Ecmo saved my son too. Simon contracted Meningococcal Meningitis a few days before he was to graduate from the University of Kent at Canterbury. He at 21 was lucky to survive his illness. His survival is due in large measure to luck (he was at home when the meningitis struck) and the skills of the Doctors and Nurses in Nottingham City Hospital and Glenfield Hospital Leicester our regional Ecmo centre.
We had been told to expect the worst on three occasions whilst in Nottingham but Simon's will to live and his strength and vigour plus our prayers pulled him through each crisis. It was only when his lungs began to fail to the septicaemia and his blood oxygen levels were under threat that Ecmo was urgently required. Glenfield a new Hospital and the largest ECMO centre in the world was a revelation! I thought as I entered the ECMO complex that if Simon didn't survive here, he wouldn't survive anywhere. Our National health service had provided an excellent facility with the finest medical equipment plus family flats adjoining the ward and day rooms for relatives and visitors. Its true when you pass the long nights with a sick child (even at 21 ) you think why are we here? What's it all for? What sort of god is it that can take a young fit man of 21 two days before his graduation ceremony? If he survives how damaged will he be? I found it useful to keep a journal writing in it all the thoughts and reminisces of his life with us. The holidays we had the songs we had sung together as a family, all these thoughts joys, regrets, fears came to me and were recorded. Which ever way it went this would be a momento that we could cherish.
I also found that I could pray again. I had not prayed since I was fourteen years old when I had rebelled against religion and all that baloney. But during these long nights I prayed, holding his hand and brushing the hair from his face I whispered half remembered prayers from my childhood and willed and urged him to fight and survive whilst looking at the life support trends on the monitor willing them to improve.
On other occasions I walked in the hospital gardens on breaks form his bedside taking the night air and looked at the sky with the clouds passing across the face of the moon. One part of my brain thinking its only water vapour in suspension passing across the face of a satellite illuminated by the rays of the sun. The other half struck by its beauty and uniqueness. The pattern of clouds formed by the eddies and flows of the air forming a unique transitory pattern that will never be repeated. Like Simon my son a unique person a never to be repeated transitory individual. We are all transitory we have but a short tenure on this life of ours. We need to strive so that all can make the most of it..
Simon thrived on Ecmo and is making a good recovery. He will need to continue physiotherapy for a number of months to improve the co-ordination of his left arm and hand but the nerves damaged by the invasiveness of Ecmo will heal, and its a small price to pay for his survival. Next week I intend to take Simon back to Glenfield so that he can thank the staff personally.
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