Monday, 27 December 2010

A Christmas Tear

This is a guest post by the person known on Twitter as @MadMedic1, and I thank them for it.
A drizzly morning outside. Much like any other December morning of late. Inside, carols and banter filled the air in the warm mess room. Christmas greetings were being exchanged. It was, after all, Christmas Day.

Hoping for an easy start to the shift, we were treated to an hour or so on station to enjoy our little slice of Christmas before the world went mad and started to demand ambulances for the usual run of the mill calls such as abdo pains, chest pains and injuries sustained by adults testing kids toys/power tools/ drinking too much. One by one the crews left station, probably not to return till the end of shift, to go home and be with their loved ones.

Our turn was next. We were ready to face the day having had sustenance in the form of tea and shed loads of chocolate – surely the norm on Christmas Day? The phone rings, obscenely loud in the now almost empty mess room. No pleasantries exchanged from control. Never a good sign, especially given the day. Two words. “Cardiac Arrest”. Oh… Followed by another three words I certainly wasn’t expecting. “6 years old”.

My face must have said a thousand words. The colour felt like it had drained. My crew mate, now out of his seat as I repeated those words as I put the phone down and began to head for the garage doors, at a run. I almost never run. I’m built for comfort not speed, but I run. I run for jobs like this. Jobs where every second counts.

Soon we are flying or so it seems. Willing the ambulance to go faster. Thankfully, the roads are clear. Thankfully, my crew mate got new lead boots for Christmas, or so it seemed! Thoughts of this call being not as given run through my head. My crew mate for the day and I barely say two words to each other, which is unusual. Normally the mickey taking flows. Not now. We remain focused and hoping. Hoping this call is a mistake. We arrive on scene to find an FRU already stranded in the road outside the address. Abandoned quickly. Door not quite shut, left ajar in haste.

I grab my paramedic bag and run for the house. The front door is already open. I knock and go straight in. The scene of festive cheer in front of me immediately throws me. 4 children. Laughing. Playing. Shouting. Enjoying their day. Wrapping paper strewn within a 15 foot fall out zone that is the norm on Christmas day. For a split second I think the job’s not as given after all. Then a sudden realisation. Where is the FRU person? Where are the Parents? Remaining as calm as possible and with as much happiness as I can muster I ask the children where our colleague has gone and they point me upstairs without so much as looking up from their festivities.

Leaving behind the raucous laughter and happiness I make my way upstairs. Mary’s Boy Child by Boney M is playing softly alongside muffled and calm voices as I walk towards the bedroom door. Hung on the door, in anticipation of a morning of rejoice and celebration, a suit. Jacket, waistcoat and trousers. Festive red bow tie and crisp white shirt. All in miniature size. A size to fit a child. My heart lurches and I push the door open. Inside, the FRU paramedic is stooped slightly with her back to the door. In front of her is a bunk bed. Sat on the lower bed is a woman, rocking gently back and forth, quietly talking. The FRU paramedic straightens up and turns to me, drops her eyes and sadly shakes her head. As the FRU para moves out of the way I see that the woman is holding a small child in her arms. Gently kissing his head. His tiny body motionless apart from the rocking prompted by his mother. Dressed in pyjamas he looked asleep. Peaceful. Safe.

Mum looks up from her child and thanks me for coming, a wan smile on her face she also wishes me Merry Christmas. I nod, my gaze now dropped to the floor and I shift my feet from side to side, not knowing how to respond appropriately. Mum continues to talk to her child for a few moments more then becomes quiet, her eyes now shut. A single, fat tear rolls down her cheek. An awkward silence envelopes the room broken only when a man then joins us. Tall with a commanding presence he says hello and he too thanks us for coming. His gaze glassy but full of emotion. He is a larger version of the boy in Mum’s arms. This must be Dad. Numb with sadness and seeing that the FRU paramedic is now struggling with emotions I say that we’ll give them some time with their son but we’ll have to do some checks in a short while and we leave the room.

Stood on the landing we all have a moment lost in our own thoughts. Some tears shed, all silently wishing this wasn’t happening. Not today. Not at all. Not ever. Police and a duty officer are called to scene – formalities for situations like this. Still downstairs are the siblings. Blissfully unaware. Composure and strength regained we knock on the bedroom door. Certain procedures needed to be done. The parents leave us to do the formal part of our job and we continue in hushed tones and a great, overwhelming sense of sadness.

He had died some time during the night. He looked peaceful. Apparently, he always liked a lie in. Liked his sleep. But he had Cystic Fibrosis. A mild form that was being managed and wasn’t giving him much trouble of late. He had been well and very excited before going to bed last night. Ready for Father Christmas. His stocking hung on his bed ready…

We called the parents back into the room and left them once again. Paperwork to be completed. Such empty formalities but formalities just the same.

There was nothing left for us to do. The police had arrived and were downstairs talking to the children. Our time to leave had come. Unsure as to what to say we made our apologies and went to leave. Once more we were thanked. Thanked for coming. Thanked for giving them the time they needed. Thanked for doing the wonderful job we do.

As we left the house, all in quiet reflection, we were thankful that child had the most wonderful, loving family in his life. Bitter that his life was too short. That the outcome was so very wrong…


Just Me said...

This... This is unreal. @MadMedic1, your writing is superb. This left me with tears and chills. Children passing away is something I will never get used to. Maybe because I have one of my own, I don't know. I just hope that family is doing ok now. CF is something I've had to learn a bit about and it's never pleasant. Thankfully it seems that little boy had a very loving family for the short time he was with us. Small consolation. Thank you for this post.

Jenny said...

CF runs in my family, so stories like this that are about it touch my heart even more than they would normally. although makes me glad i didn't give up on my training run on sunday & reminds me of the reasons i'm raising money for CF which will hopefully help the research of @CFTrust in some way.

Anonymous said...

Tears streaming down my face. So awful anytime of year, but at Christmas doubly so. As others have said he clearly had a loving and happy life. Christmas will never be the same again for that loving family.

Fee said...

There just aren't the words ... awful beyond comprehension. For everyone. The family, the professionals, everyone.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to be posting years after the blog entry, but i only started reading the blog yesterday and got to this story today. I feel compelled to comment and express my sadness with this story, that poor wee boy passing away at Christmas has made me weep for him and his family. I too am pleased he had a very loving family with him and they will all be in my thoughts for some time. Sleep well little man, the fight is over. xxx
Celtic Echo