Sunday, 11 January 2015

Dr Who In All's Well That Ends Well

It is day three of the new year and I am clinging to an Austrian mountainside, screaming into icy winds as a helicopter lands to airlift my daughter to hospital.

It was the final day of our holiday. We had been visiting friends in Austria and had decided to do a last ski-run together as a family (while Eddie waited at the bottom with his grandfather). We picked the easiest run on the mountain.  Taking the chairlift was an adventure for Gilby and he did bring it to a standstill trying to get on, but it was a glorious morning.

Gilby was slow, doing lots of snow-ploughing and crashing into his mother; and Gertie, scornful and seven-years' confident, went on ahead with her uncle.

A few minutes later we came across a crumpled heap on the mountain side. I thought she was winded until it transpired that she couldn't lift her head or straighten her back and complained that her feet were numb.  It was a fairly innocuous fall by all accounts but it looked as though it might have tragic consequences. The piste ambulance arrived, took one look, and refused to move her, radioing immediately for a helicopter.

They sedated her on the mountain. The last thing she said was 'Mummy, please don't let them take me to hospital'.

I have no doubt that the the view across the mountains by helicopter was dramatic and beautiful but I really didn't see any of it as I was so focused on Gertie who was unconscious.  There are no pictures because for once in my life I didn't think to take any. There were horrible scenes in the emergency room as she began to come to.  She kept asking if it was all 'real', and the memory loss meant that I had to explain over and over again what had happened to her.  She screamed each time she realised anew that she was in hospital.

The wonderful Dr Florian was patient and kind and had excellent English.  Gertie could never remember his name all the time we were there.  But his superb language skills lacked a tiny little something in bedside manner.

He would wave a giant needle around and say things like 'Vill you please tell your daughter that I must just now stab her qvickly for the bloods?' or flex his fingers before announcing, 'She vill feel extreme pain just now as I tvist her bone...'

I watched her for ten hours in intensive care before we knew that everything was really going to be ok. The point at which she leapt from the wheelchair and did a little jig was a bit of a giveaway, as was asking whether she was allowed to wear eye-shadow.

We were delayed leaving Austria by about 30 hours in the end and I had to miss a day of school. It's an extreme way to get additional time off work (as indeed my headteacher pointed out.)

I try not to court drama. I am thankful that my life generally goes along on an even keel. There are highs and lows and 2014 was a good year: healthy, happy children and a warm hearth.  There were some biggies, like my graduation ceremony - ten years in the making - no small cause for celebration;

Gertie's Irish Dancing Championship, a life-changing trip to teach in Uganda;

 my fulfilling of a twenty-year ambition to go to the Hay Festival, as well as finally getting Hearth-Father to the Isle of Wight Festival in June; and, of course, Arsenal won the FA Cup.

These highs were clouded by the sad and sudden loss of 'Pomp' in October.

But 2015 has begun with a bang. Gertie is absolutely fine, and will be back dancing in a couple of weeks' time. My mental scars will take a little longer to heal! Here's to a less dramatic start to the rest of the year.

Currently reading: Talking It Over by Julian Barnes

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