The big adventure


PLAY TIME Éamon in the playroom in the MUH Pediatric Unit during his recent stay. Coincidentally, much of the funding for the playroom service was provided by Achill-based charity Gearóid’s Smile, for which Éamon and his siblings have helped fundraise in the past.

The Dad Diary
Edwin McGreal

It’s amazing just how quickly kids can get sick, but by the same token, just how quickly they can recover.
The Sunday before last, Éamon went to bed right as rain. He had a busy weekend and was ready to sleep the sleep of the contended. By lunchtime the next day he was in an ambulance on the way to Mayo University Hospital with a bad case of pneumonia. He was home that Thursday and by the Friday it was as if it never happened.
Éamon woke up Monday morning at 6am – very early by his standards – with a bad cough and couldn’t get back to sleep. About an hour later he vomited, and so we immediately thought it was a bug, and dread of the other two kids getting it started to grow.
We booked a doctor’s appointment to be on the safe side, but by midday he had fallen asleep on the couch and you could see he was struggling with his breathing.
Out we went to the doctor, who saw quickly that his oxygen levels were low. So onto oxygen he went, which stabilised things, but it was clear a trip to the hospital was on the cards.
The doctor felt an ambulance from Achill to MUH was best, so Éamon could be kept on oxygen. The poor young fella was initially terrified of going in the ambulance, but when we’d travelled as far as Mulranny, he declared: “Actually I really like the ambulance.”
The paramedics were just brilliant with him, and he got a lovely Certificate of Bravery at the end of his journey too.
The bravery was only starting. Despite all that was needed from him – from having a cannula inserted for bloods, medicine and a drip to regular examinations in the Emergency Department and in Pediatrics where he was admitted – getting into the ambulance was the only time he cried that whole day.
He was so well treated by all the staff in MUH, and he’d had such a great time going up and down stairs and in the elevator, that it became one ‘big adventure’ for Éamon.
He came off the oxygen on the Tuesday and was only loving meals being brought into him, as well as my presence beside him all the time.
Dare I say it, but he nearly had too good a time.
When he went to jump off the window sill onto a bean bag the last night, I warned him, “Éamon, be careful or you might have to go to hospital.”
He smiled at me and said, “But I like hospital.”
Oh dear!

In his fortnightly column, Edwin McGreal charts the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.