Monday, 24 October 2011

End of life

Right now, the worst things happening around me involve children. I cope and get on with it, but I am much more sensitive than ever before. I guess that will eventually settle down.

So, calls involving pregnant women whose waters have gone, and they are only 20 weeks or so into term, make me very sad indeed. I know the woman has probably just lost her baby and I know exactly what she and her other half are about to go through.

But these calls pale into insignificance when I listen to the last moments of a child who is in Palliative Care; a child who has stopped breathing and whose nurse is carrying out CPR in a vane attempt (and contrary to the meaning of 'end of life care') to revive him.

I listened in as the call-taker processed the resuscitating nurse through the procedure, against all odds. I could hear mum in the background sobbing. "Please my darling, come on my little angel", she says. She repeats this over and over again as her child undergoes the physical punishment required to force life back into the lifeless.

I had to put my head into my hands. I was thinking I might be losing it. Or maybe I've gone soft. Or maybe the fact that children live for such a short time, just to die in medically predictable circumstances, is finally getting through to me and I'm feeling the pain of parents who are going through a hell of a lot more than I did.

If there are parents like that reading this, I want to say I can't believe you have the strength; I honestly salute your souls for loving so deeply for such short years, just to say goodbye without ever having watched your child grow old enough to earn death.

It breaks me against religion and it denies me the power to support weak and institutionalised people who think their lot is so bad that they need ambulances for every little problem they have - their drink problem, their drug problem. I wish we could drag them to see these kids. Take them all up to Great Ormond Street Hospital, or any children's hospital, so they can see what suffering with dignity looks like.

If you have the time and a little money left, give something to any Children's Hospital you know. They really need it. If I ever get Mr Tonsilpus back I will start another campaign so he can raise money for Children's Hospitals.

Be safe.


Caroline84 said...


I was one of those calls 8 years ago. I went into labour at 22 weeks, but I didn't lose my baby. In fact, I now have a healthy, happy 8 year old boy. If it helps, next time you have a call like that imagine me cheering my beautiful boy on the sidelines while he scores a goal, and remember that those calls don't all have negative outcomes.

The part about children's palliative care strick a chord with me also. A little boy from my sons' school tragically passed away this year after a long brave battle with Neuroblastoma. Myself and some other mums walked 11 miles to try and give something back to the charity which had supported the boy and his family throughout his illness and beyond. St Mary's Hospital in Manchester looked after him in his last few days, just as they do for so many other terminally ill children. Maybe you could arrange for Tonsilpus to visit the brilliant staff and brave children and families there? You are not going soft either - being affected by sick children just shows that your job may have taken away your ability to eat,sleep and socialise at normal times of the day, but it hasn't taken away your ability to be a human being.

Don't underestimate the pain you and your wife are experiencing - losing a child at any stage of their lives is horrific.

Take Care.

Fiz said...

That made me sob, Stuart. Having had children,it has permanently sensitised me to what children and parents suffer. I can't believe someone has stolen Mr Tonsilpus, what a low-down thing to do!

JR said...


I would disagree that you are going soft. Your job involves being professionally caring while dealing with the absolute worst humanity and fate can throw at you be it bad things happening to good people or bad people abusing those trying to help them.

The fact you still feel the way you do says, to me, that despite this you have kept your humanity and allowed it to flourish rather than becoming bitter, jaded and cynical as many do.

I think this is an achievement to be proud of.


Hannah said...

This is very sad.

Time for Mr Tonsilpus the second I think! He can help raise money for these childrens charities in the run up to Xmas.

Harry Hill is good at making woolen creatures famous..get him featured on there! Everyone will want him then!

H x

Xf said...


I'd thought of sending another Mr T out but there are a couple of problems. First of all, he was made by Lottie Lindsay and I doubt she'll make another for me. Secondly, his passport, which was signed by all his hosts, is with him and that can never be replaced.

We tried to publicise him but very few took the bait - however, our news agency is probably going to run a kidnapping story!

Hannah said...

A kidnapping story! FAB!
Hopefully the person who's got him will return him safely :) Do you know roughly where he is?

It's a shame not many wanted to help publicise for such a good cause. If theres anything I can do to help let me know! Be glad to.

H x

Anonymous said...

My son died aged 10 months, you never get over the death of a child no matter what age they are, the pain doesn't lessen you just get used to living with it.But you do see life in a different light and realise what things are important and what things are so insignificant.It doesn't mean you are "losing it" or "going soft". You do an excellent job and, I pray that I will never need to make that call again but if I do, I hope you, or someone like you, who cares is the person who responds.The day you stop feeling and caring is the day you stop doing a good job. Take care.

Sewmouse said...

I'm so sad to hear the little fuzzball is still missing. I had such a good time hosting him.

I do so hope he gets found.