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  • Sarah Menzies

Just another Process

The day Lauren went onto ECMO is abit of a blur. I know I messaged the Husband to tell him she had got worse in the night. Phone calls weren't allowed on the ward, so much of our contact through those days was via text.

i wanted him to arrange for the kids to go home so Lauren could have our undivided attention. They didn't want to go home and the Husband, rightly it turned out, agreed with them.

The kids stayed ensconced in Mac house while we met with consultants regarding the procedure. We had to sign authorisation for the ECMO to go ahead. This was the first time we'd had to sign anything, it made it feel more real somehow. They went through all the very serious risks of the procedure, but explained that there was no other option. It is a procedure that is done almost daily at Alderhey. We tried to stay positive, just another process we repeated like a mantra, but internally we were both in blind panic.

They did the procedure in her room, like I said before, Alderhey Intensive Care wards are not like a standard hospital room. Obviously we couldn't be there, in fact the whole unit is shut when procedures take place, so we spent the time with our youngest two. I have video of them both messing about on the toddler bikes outside Mac house, charging down slopes on them. Usually I'd tell them not to mess about on toys too young for them, worried they'd break them, but today it didn't seem important.

They must have told us how long the procedure would take, but I can't remember, just the waiting, which when I look back feels like a few minutes, but I'm sure it can't have done at the time.

We got the telephone call to meet the consultants back in the side room. There had been complications with the ECMO. They had been unable to get the flow required when using cannulae in her leg, so it had been necessary to crack her chest to allow the blood flow directly into the heart.

Just another process.

The Husband was worried about scars, I told him they were character building. I was concerned about her dance show, it was in 2 months, would she have time to recover?

I think I spent along time sitting by her bed. I felt like I'd hardly seen her that day. It seemed to take a while before she was stable, lots of the machines were beeping away, but eventually the consultants seemed happy with her. I asked them if her lungs would be able to recover, they were 99% certain they would.

The day had all been too much for my son. Seeing his big sister on, what was basically a heart & lung bypass machine, had been difficult. He wanted to go back home with my Husband. Initially I wanted my youngest daughter to go back with them too, that way I could stay with Lauren all night. She didn't want to. And when I thought about it I realised the only thing helping me keep it together was being strong for the kids. If i stopped seeing this as just another process, and considered, even if just for a moment, that it might mean something else, then I was going to fall apart.

So my youngest daughter stayed with me while the boys went home. We sat with Lauren for a while then, happy that she was stable & comfortable, we went back to Mac House to go to bed, hopeful that tomorrow would bring a better day and that she would begin the process of getting better.

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