Saturday, 7 July 2012

Neon : The Toe and the Hair

I know, I know, it's not the picture of a neon, but a neon lighted Tadpole's hospital bedroom when the story of The Toe and the Hair unfolded...

It started when Tadpole was just over four months. I noticed that her middle toe on the left foot was swollen and had a 'ring' around it. Now for some reason Tadpole seems to have always (at least when she was smaller) had strands of hair getting caught around some of her fingers. I generally saw and removed them , one or two times having to use tweezers, the hair being caught so tightly around her tiny fingers. So when I saw The Toe, I instantly thought that a hair had got caught around it but that I hadn't seen it. I didn't feel like removing it myself giving the swelling of The Toe...

So a call to our local surgery ensued. Fortunately they are very good at giving you an appointment really quickly when it's for a child. So off we went. The appointment was with one of my favourite GPs in the practice too. I told my story. Sterile tweezers were produced and, with the help of a nurse (I didn't manage to hold Tadpole AND hold the light) strands of hair were removed.

The GP managed to quell his excitement (he had never seen it before) and tell me that it should get better quickly.

Two days later however it was still very swollen and looking angrier than ever. So, new trip to see the toe enthusiast GP. He told me that he had talked with a friend of his, paediatric orthopedic surgeon  who knew about hair getting caught around babies toes and had said that sometimes the babies had to be referred for surgery.
Hahaha, imagine that! How lucky we had been...
Antibiotics were given. Not the kind you can slap bu the slightly lumpy solution you get from the chemist with a serynge and a prayer that baby is going to discover a passion for orange flavoured medicine. I managed somewhow to force the thing down Tadpole, the colour of The Toe veered towards something slightly more normal (it tended to be either red or purple...) and waited for the perfectly healed toe to show itself. I waited, and waited, and waited, until quite suddenly the end of The Toe got even more swollen and red.

Back to the GP we went. His advice was that there might still be some hair around The Toe or that it was the scarring that was now constricting The Toe. A little cut perpendicular to the scar might resolve things but they couldn't do it in the surgery as Tadpole would need a local anesthetic. So we were referred to our local hospital's paediatric day assessment unit

We know that place quite well by now, what with GirlyFroggy and her accidental overdose (subject for another story one day), CarsFanFrog and his asthma, etc.
Off we went then. The head paediatrician wanted to put Tadpole under antibiotics by drip for 24 hours. A canula was inserted in her arm... Do you want yo stay with her? was I asked. Yes. She was very brave. She then fed and went to sleep.

Later The Big Guy, consultant orthopedist or something, went to see The Toe. Looks like a congenital muscle constriction, said he. She was born with it (right... and I didn't see it because?). Normally there is nothing to do (so we leave her like that ?!). We can't do anything here, we'll have to refer her to Southampton (okayyy...). And then he added, with extreme condescendence and a slight smile, Nothing can get round a toe like that.
Of course ! Stupid me, her mother, poor ignoramus stay at home mum. And the GP, poor ignoramus village doctor. And the consultant paediatrician, poor ignoramus kids' doctor.


So, around 6.00 pm I packed my baby in the car, set my GPS to Southampton hospital and off we went. Time to stop at home to say goodnight to two fairly calm children and a third one in tears (GirlyFroggy) and we arrived to a heartwarming welcome. The nurses in the ward loved Tadpole and were really nice. There was just one stupid question from the young female doctor who assessed her : could her siblings have played at doing this? (what do you think they are? Mad, torture lover freaks?) and Tadpole was booked for theatre the next morning. Yes, theatre, general anesthetic and everything...

I had for instructions to stop feeding her from 4.00 am so I set the alarm on my phone for 3.30 am. In fact she woke up at 3.15 and I fed her until 3.55. She fell back asleep in my arms and I kept her there. I think she woke up again around 6.00 am. That was when started the hard work to refuse her the breast. She cried a bit but let herself be distracted, cuddled but not fed. At some point she was lying in her hospital cot, sucking her fingers. She would look at me and turn her head the other way... Resigned and sad. At least that's how I interpreted it.

Finally came the time to go to whatever they call the room where you go to just before being taken into theatre. The anesthetist had told me she'd take Tadpole in theatre on her own, needing to be fully focused to do her job. So I waved off my baby, in the arms of a nurse (there had been a bit of a fight about who would get to carry her). I went back to the ward where they would be able to reach me when she woke up. 

I sent a text to DH to say Tadpole was in theatre, which made me feel a bit wobbly. Everything had happened so quickly since the day before... I would have been a wreck from anxiety if I had been in DH's shoes, but he held the fort valiantly and didn't let anything show that could have worried the other little frogs.

About twenty minutes later I was called in recovery room. Tadpole was having a cuddle with a nurse, to whom it took some time to hand my baby over... (yes, I know she is lovely, Nurse, but give her back now!). The journey back to our bedroom, me on a gurney with Tadpole in my arms, was a bit embarrasing but at least I was with my baby, bandaged up left for her Toe and right for the canula.

The bandage on The Toe stayed for two weeks. It turns out that the hair had cut the flesh right to the bone and a strand had indeed remained in after the visit to the GP. When the bandage was removed all of Tadpole's toes looked a bit oxygen starved and The Toe stayed purple for a while (I made Tadpole were several socks on that feet to try and make the blood flow) but now you can only see the faintest line.

That was the true story of The Toe.

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