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It was 5pm on a Friday evening and I had just got home from work and the commute home from central London with Ravey in tow. I was changing his nappy and was met with a bright red poo. What the actual f*@k?

I was a little concerned but the nurse in me thought, he seems fine, I will wait and see its probably just something he ate. But then my partner and I started talking about it and doing what all new parents do… catastrophize and GOOGLE it. Word of advice, NEVER GOOGLE IT. What if it WAS an internal bleed and we ignored it? I’m a children’s nurse after all, I should know better. Rationally I knew there was absolutely nothing wrong but the niggling fear that I might downplay something that turned out to be serious was enough that at 7pm the guilt won and we headed down to our local A&E.

Paediatric accident and emergency on a Friday night is like a day out for all the family. It is absolute carnage! There was one entire family of 6 sat eating what could only be described as a banquet. They had Tupperware’s and everything. It was crazy.

We sat there feeling silly, annoyed we had come and subjected ourselves to an evening here, and potentially wasting NHS time. There would obviously be far more unwell children than ours, who was happy as Larry, albeit getting tired and bored!

We waited for ages and eventually got called in to take basic information and do a set of observations. The nurse was kind and reassuring and said that in the absence of other symptoms it was unlikely to be anything to worry about. Baby was well in himself and there had not been any further signs to suggest any bleeding or other sinister cause. She did his basic observations, including a blood pressure, which is a damn nightmare on little one as they don’t like the squeezing so cry their heads off and wave their keg around which stops the machine working. No temperature and all other observations normal and we are sent back to the waiting area until a doctor is free.

Another hour of waiting. Staring at the wall. Picking up the token leaflets in the wall about random diseases or ailments…..’How to look after your plaster cast’, ‘Glue ear’ and one about the hospital interpreter service. Absolutely no relevance but I’m bored.

There is very little to do to keep a toddler occupied. Some pencils and crayons strewn across a table with already coloured in pictures and paper already drawn on by kids who have visited during the day. A very battered and tired play kitchen with no accessories, a few books and a PlayStation console.

Its already past bedtime but Ravey isn’t sleeping as its loud and bright. Si occupies him with some books for a bit but they quickly lose their appeal. Ravey is irritable and now well past bedtime. We both know he is very quickly going to become a moody wailing mess if he doesn’t sleep soon.
I’m staring at the walls. Looking again and again at the peeling off wall stickers of jungle animals and hot air balloons. At the tattered pictures drawn from children past and the laminated notices to not plug in or use your mobile phone. Everyone is on their phone.

We finally get called in to see the doc. We can finally get the all clear and head home. The end is near. We can feel a little foolish and head home knowing all is well and literally never return to A&E again unless a limb is hanging off or something.

The doc is happy, all seems well. They decide to have a quick listen of his chest. There is a quick flash of recognition in his eye. He lingers just a little longer than necessary and places the stethoscope in another location and another. He has heard a murmur. Wants to get it checked out whilst we are there. We go to over the history. I have a murmur. The kind that’s not dangerous. Si was born with a hole in the heart that self rectified. Some family history. Because of this when I was pregnant Ravey had a prenatal echo, he had one at a month old too to check his heart was structurally sound. No abnormalities detected. But there is a murmur now. This happens sometimes the doctor says. It can develop later. Should get it checked as he has noticed it. Ravey is well, no sign of cardiac or respiratory difficulty. He feeds well and shows no signs of failure to thrive. Very unlikely to be a problem. Very likely has the same as me. BUT he needs an ECG.
Back to the waiting room.

Now we don’t know whether to be pissed we came or not?! Nobody gives a toss about the red shit but now we have a potential cardiac issue on our hands! And an ECG? You have to keep real still for that shit to work. And for a good few minutes too. I’ve spent hours trying to get them done on kids at work before. Ravey will have to be asleep. It’s now 9pm.

There is a kid about 10 years old playing the PlayStation. I’m trying to breastfeed Ravey to sleep. Every time he starts to nod off this kid shouts out some nonsense at the computer screen. The kids dad is sat the other end of the room with his eyes closed. I feel misplaced rage towards this man and his spawn. Its not their fault and I don’t know their story, but that kid is getting on my tits and keeping mine awake and the man is getting to rest!? That’s enough for me to project eye daggers at them and quietly hate them inside!

Si notices a small room by the bathroom with a breastfeeding sign on it. It has a nursing chair and changing table. I head in there leaving si outside to keep watch for the return of the doctor. After a struggle and about 10 minutes Ravey is snoozing whilst feeding. The door opens, the lights ping on bright as ever and a cleaner announces I need to vacate the room so it can be cleaned. I hold back every part of me that wants to scream at this woman and I leave the room.

A lady emerges with an ECG and she attempts to carry out an ECG on a just gone to sleep Ravey. She needs his clothes off! Of course she does I damn well knew that but its freezing and I wasn’t going to have him waiting undressed for an unknown length of time. I open the poppers of his babygrow and manage to get legs out. I open the bottom of the vest so she can place the sensor pads on his chest and as she attempts to hook up the leads he wakes and thrashes around, crying and reaching for me. He is moving too much and pulling the cables. We are sent back to the waiting room to reattempt once we have got him to sleep.

Ok now we are really pissed off and we both know it but neither of us will own it because our child could have a heart problem and we would be selfish dickheads to be annoyed at the delay and having to sit in the hospital.
We are sat not speaking, both annoyed at the whole random mess that has unfolded all because of a stupid red poo!

The quiet is interrupted by a woman who walks past with her baby. She proceeds to speak to the people at the desk then sit down. After a while she is called though for the first initial nurse check. A few minutes later a man stumbles in. He goes to the desk and is asking after his wife and baby. He explains his battery died but he knew they were heading here. The person at the desk doesn’t know so I tell him I think they are in with the nurse. The man thanks me very politely looking extremely awkward and sheepish. He looks dishevelled. He smells of beer.

We eventually get the ECG done and head home. We have to return for the echo but we aren’t worried. No evidence of any issues its likely he has the same as me.

As we walk to leave we pass the couple sat in the waiting area. You can hear their muffled voices as she explains what was wrong with the baby. That she couldn’t get hold of him. The dude is clearly wasted and trying super hard to appear totes sober. They had gone to another pub on way back. His phone had died. He didn’t realise until he turned it back on quickly to check messages and saw hers before it died again. I felt for them. If I were her I would be livid. She was being pretty tame, but also could imagine the poor dude out with mates for first time since having the baby. Having one too many and the phone dying. Oh imagine the horror of finding out your partner is taking your baby to A&E. The shame and paranoia talking to the healthcare professionals off your tits. Their A&E journey had just begun.

Its coming up to 11pm. 6 hours ago Ravey had a red poop and that was an unsolved mystery, but he had emerged with a heart murmur. Sometimes one random discovery leads to another.

Oh, and the poo? When I mentioned it to the nursery on Monday his keyworker said “oh, yes he was eating a crayon on Friday. Yes I think it was a red one actually”

So useful to be finding that out now. Thanks for letting me know.

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