Forgetting my mobile made Wilf’s A&E trial even worse writes Steve Canavan

For the second week in succession, I found myself in hospital (for those who didn’t read last week’s column, it was an incredibly exciting account of a dermatologist inspecting a scabby bit of skin on my nose … don’t fret about missing it, the scene will be re-enacted in full in a forthcoming film about my life, to be directed by Spielberg, slated for an autumn 2022 release, and provisionally titled ‘The Incredibly Boring Life Of A Middle-Aged Man With Deteriorating Nose Skin’).

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 12:30 pm
Blackpool Victoria Hospital

This time it was to do with my son Wilf, who I discovered, much to my alarm, gasping and struggling for breath when I went to check on him just after midnight.

I’m not one to panic, so I grabbed him from his cot and ran to the car, while over my shoulder shouting to Mrs Canavan ‘he’s dying – I’m going to A&E’.

In my haste to leave, I forgot my phone, a huge misfortune on two counts; one, I couldn’t let Mrs Canavan know whether her son had survived the night or not and, two - and much more importantly - it meant I couldn’t keep my two-year-old entertained by playing him rubbish cartoons.

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Turning up at the nearest hospital – Blackpool Victoria, on a Monday night/Tuesday morning - I expected to find maybe three or four people there, tops. I was wrong. It was like being at Euston Station during tea-time rush-hour. There were bodies everywhere, slumped in every available space, and a general feeling of unpleasantness in the air.

Within seconds of us walking in, a woman in front of me rose from her wheelchair and screamed – at a nurse who didn’t even look remotely shocked, as if it happened all the time - something along the lines of, ‘Don’t you tell me what to do. I’ve paid my taxes and you won’t let me sit in an effing room? Who do you effing think you are?’ And so on. She seemed a lovely lady.

The right thing to do, I think, would have been to intervene and to suggest to this woman she sit down, shut up and stop abusing the very nurses who work their backsides off to keep us fit and healthy. However, due to a combination of having a sick child in my arms and – more pertinently - being a complete wimp, I made do with shaking my head and sighing loudly as I walked past, in the hope she’d hear, feel embarrassed about her behaviour and stop. She didn’t, however, and continued ranting about the system being broke. Then again, maybe I’m being unfair? Maybe her outburst was because she’d been told she had to wait to see a doctor? In which case, how dare they! Surely they must see that she, and she alone, is more important than anyone else in that entire waiting room and needs to be seen first? Honestly, I despair.

Thankfully - for me, at any rate - the waiting area for children was in a different area, an area that was a sea of tranquility compared to the stormy ocean I’d just navigated.

The staff were fantastic and efficient and lovely and quickly gave Wilf the right medicines and an inhaler.

It’s fair to say he wasn’t a fan of the inhaler. When they tried to use it on him he screamed so loudly I daresay the population of Melbourne woke with a start, saying things like, ‘gee Madge, you hear that? Is it in earthquake or something?’

It was a very long night, especially as – and I’m not sure how he did this – my son, who usually sleeps 12 hours straight from 7pm, appeared to be not only wide awake but ready to go clubbing.

He spent the hours between 2 and 5am repeatedly counting – and I’m not joking – from 1 to 10 in an increasingly loud voice and resisting any attempts I made to quieten him. I’m certain people in adjoining rooms must’ve wanted to smash him in the face, because I certainly did and I’m a blood relation.

Because I couldn’t play him some rubbish on my phone to keep him occupied - the modern way of parenting – I had to do it the old-fashioned way and spent pretty much all night playing I Spy and other such classics.

At 10.30am the next morning – with Wilf not allowed out of hospital until his breathing returned to normal - a very kindly nurse saved my sanity by rummaging through a stock cupboard and finding an old dusty DVD player and, better still, some Peppa Pig discs. It was a wonderful moment – I mean after stethoscope, medicine and doctor, there really weren’t many other I Spy options.

Around the same time, a different nurse bought me a cup of tea. It had the words ‘Magnificent Dad’ on the side. ‘We chose this specially for you,’ she said. She then asked for my phone number and I obviously gave it to her – I assume she wanted to keep tabs on Wilf’s health (the second part of that story may not quite be true).

Finally, around 14 hours after arriving - and halfway through a Peppa where Miss Rabbit is accused of online grooming against Zoe Zebra (it really is a left-field episode) - young Wilf was discharged and, after being given strict instructions about how to use the inhaler, we were able to return home.

I’m hoping the forthcoming week passes without a trip to hospital – the parking costs are crippling me.

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