Wednesday, 16 December 2015

The End of a Truly Hard Day

Ewan wheezes almost every time he catches a cold/ virus. It's been that way for at least 2 years, although his first salbutamol inhaler was when he was 10 months old.

I know how he gets when he really needs hospital-level care. yesterday, he progressed from mild wheeze to really-quite-bad in the slace of an afterboon. It's when he stops eating that is the biggest giveaway.

Anyway, he was admitted and given great, compassionate and friendly care as well as the right treatment and doses of inhalers for him. This was lovely to receive, seeing that his care was paramount, even to the point where I just knew that being admitted onto the childrens' ward was the only option.

The issue came when we wanted to leave, I mean, no wonder the NHS is struggling for money. Anyway, ignoring all the politics, this is actually what happened.

0915 Ewan needed his inhaler an hour earlier than the 4 hour plan. I told the nurse that it was needed, he was reviewed by a Dr and I gave him his inhaler.

1040-ish Ward round by 2 doctors (the more senior was a registrar, with another taking notes). I was told that he had to manage 4 hours and then that we would be home for tea time.

1315 ewan easily made 4 hour gap since last dose of inhaler. Pointed it out to the nurse in charge of him, and said that I wanted to go home shortly. She didn't contradict me.

1500 Ewan's obs were measured and recorded by a HCA. I asked her if she could enquire about the impending discharge. I asked her again when she returned 5 minutes later. She said she would ask for me.

1615 I decided that I had had enough of the waiting. I asked a nurse at the desk and she pointed out that ewan wasn't on the pharmacy list and shrugged me away. A few minutes later, the nurse caring for Ewan said that the doctor had written that they would review E during the teatime ward round. It was 1630 by this point. Ewan was running around like a giddy 4 year old. He was a little wheezy but not struggling. I packed our things and said that of a doctor was unable to see us within 5 minutes, that we would be leaving.

I impressed upon the nurse how confident and competent I am at managing ewan at home , and detailed why home was the best place for him to recover. I was so angry, I was probably horrible but I needed to protect my family. I sympathised with her and didn't point the finger. However, not letting well patients go home is not acceptable. It is not acceptable to plan to discharge a 4 year after tea, when you were told 'by tea'.

I was shaking with frustration. A doctor listened to his chest and said he could go. I would never put him at risk, I have all of the inhaler meds he needs and he isn't due steroids until tomorrow lunchtime. So I can collect those tomorrow, and help him recuperate in his own bed, with suitable food that is nutritious and safe for him to eat (the dairy free options for small children are woeful).

Needless to say, he is pumped up on steroids, and can't sleep but at least we are home.

Monday, 14 December 2015

What Rosey and #Pndhour have done for me

Rosey has created an online community. This is an amazingly innovative but incredibly simple feat because she used Twitter and two 'hashtags' to help to empower women (specifically mothers) to connect and seek empathy, support, praise, kindness and find like minded peers online.

Becoming a mother is possibly the most life changing part of a woman's life. If any part of the process is marred by mental illness related to pregnancy or parenthood, mothers become isolated and the illness can worsen. In January 2014 I had hit a real low, I was about to return to work after the birth of my second child and I truly felt alone and isolated. I had told a couple of family members about my post natal depression but it was still very much a secret and to all intents and purposes, I was alone in the world. In January 2014, I stumbled across #pndhour, a weekly discussion of set topics, where sufferers, professionals and survivors can join in and interact as much or as little as they feel able to. This was a fabulous discovery as Rosey had set up the chat and time, which is so very simple but incredibly effective at helping mums to network. I have found so many other mums who have had similar experiences but, most importantly for me, I chatted to women who had recovered from post natal depression. These women were an inspiration and a light at the end of the tunnel.

However, the true master-stroke in Rosey's twitter success was her creation of #PNDchat - it's a way of asking for help, for example,

'I'm not feeling great, nothing feels easy today #PNDchat'.

The true beauty of this is that it enables women to learn to ask for help, it connects mums with another person who searches the hashtag and happens-by the #PNDchat message. Having utilised this tool most weeks for the last year, I have recognised signs of my own illness and have changed who I am as a result of receiving the kindness of complete strangers.

#PNDchat is a 'place' where someone can tell you the kind words which you cannot tell yourself when you are depressed.

I have learned to relate to other women and I have become much more able to express my compassion and empathy both in written terms and in real life. This is genuinely due to #PNDchat and #PNDhour.

Rosey saw a need, in herself and in others and through pure ingenuity was able to make peer-support a reality with tangible life-improving results. This is in terms of my own mental health improving as well as me giving support back, as I have had a few mothers tell me that I have helped to save their life, and this type of feedback is seen fairly regularly within the online community.

Rosey's Internet creation has lasted for 100 weeks so far, and remains mostly on Twitter - the simplicity means that new followers can join in as soon as they want or need to and so the community continues to grow in this way. Rose continues to work tirelessly, despite being a mum of three children and despite suffering the realities of post natal depression herself. She promotes herself to Twitter celebrities, to garner 'retweets', not for fame and fortune but in order to spread the word about #PNDhour to those who need it.

I had the pleasure of meeting Rosey at the first anniversary party in January 2015: 20-30 strangers congregated in Edinburgh to celebrate the success and power of #PNDhour. She was completely unassuming and was truly humbled when she realised how much of an impact she had had on so many lives. She is an inspiration and has helped me to connect with other mums and to fight my way out of the darkness of post natal depression and to help other mums do the same.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

The problem with headlines

All too commonly, a mum in a TV show has PND and hurts her baby, a mum gives an interview to a tabloid and her words are given a 'hurting baby' title (despite that being a tiny part of the story which ended in happy recovery), or a really good paper article discussing the darker side of intrusive thoughts had a published title about 'drowning baby'.

My paraphrases are merely taken from memory from 100 weeks of being a member of the #pndhour crew. My point is this: PND does not equal not loving your baby.

I didn't know this, at 4 weeks post partum with baby #2. Nor did I know it when he was 6 months, it took the #pndchat and #pndhour heroes to teach me that it was definitely PND, and that PND doesn't always affect feelings towards your child. Whenever I say I have PND (I'm very open about it) I have to immediately follow it up with 'but I always loved my children'. Not because of my judgment of other women and their struggles, but I have to state it here that having PND made me a better mother. Although, I was awfully low, unable to move much through the constant push-pull of depression and anxiety. However, i counted calcium, I counted TV minutes, I counted fruit and veg portions, I followed the rules of parenting because all I wanted was to be the best mother, and I always came up short of my own estimates. I have 2 well attached, affectionate and good little boys. My PND didn't upset their lives and thank heavens for CBT!

People with mental health issues deserve to not be stigmatised, for accurate statistics and quantitative research to be cited, rather than using words like 'many' or 'most'.

Every mother with PND is an individual and suffers in their own, unique way because PND affects every person differently, as with any mental illness. Yes, there are trends, parallels and the amount that I say  'yes, me too!' To the #pndchat and #pndhour chatters shows that.

We aren't all TV show stereotype mums crying in the dark thinking up ways to do it. It does happen, and those intrusive thoughts must be incredibly scary, and they happen to real women and their families, either in mind or in reality. This needs talking about so that women can ask for help before they act on the thoughts. Acting upon them is not always a choice, nor is ignoring them.

Please, if you're reading this and you struggle with thoughts about harming yourself or others, please seek help from someone close or a health professional/ GP.