Time flies at the Happy House and as social worker, Billy, says it is like beehive of activity.
It's has all the highs and lows of family life, multiplied by 56!
Yesterday, baby Brian was taken ill. He was very feverish and his breathing shallow. Just after nine Sue asked me if I would go with Billy to Malindi to take him to see the paediatrician who just happened to be doing her rounds at Malindi Hospital. On the journey there Brian's temperature was going up and up, I was trying to keep him cool but it's an impossible task in this heat.
His temperature was soaring by this time and his breathing worsened, he was limp and listless and Billy and I were both getting very worried indeed. He was first checked at the children's outpatients clinic, given paracetamol, and we were then directed to the children's ward where there were dozens of parents and children queuing inside and out. Whole families appeared to be keeping vigil around the small patients in some of the beds.
It took a while but on Billy's insistence the paediatrician left her ward round to look at him and confirmed that he was very, very sick with pneumonia. She said that 99% of cases she was seeing were children with breathing difficulties brought on by the intense heat and dust. Brian, she said, had to be admitted as he needed both intravenous antibiotics and oxygen.
Again we waited, getting increasingly anxious, but the hospital is so under staffed and under resourced. Again on Billy's insistence, Brian jumped the queue. A doctor tried in vain to find a vein in which to insert a cannula, Brian screaming with every attempt. It was a dreadful, but there was no alternative. He sent Billy out with a prescription to buy Ventolin for nebulizer, while I stayed with Brian. Our doctor called a senior doctor for assistance, he brought with him two young student doctors from Germany. They all did their best to keep Brian cheerful but, ill though he was, he put up a very good fight.
Eventually the cannula was in place, and Billy arrived back, several chemists later, with the Ventolin. By early afternoon,another wait alongside other parents with sick kids, there was a free bed and we were given sheets to put on it. Billy opened one, badly stained, and decided immediately that he should be transferred to the nearby private hospital. Having seen several cats wander through the ward and doctors all sharing one stethescope, I must say I was relieved.
By this time Brian had been on the nebulizer and his temperature had subsided so were we confident that we could move him without putting him in danger.
Before we could go to the private hospital we had to call in at the private clinic of the paediatrician we had seen earlier so she could refer him. Again Billy got us to the front of the queue, she referred him and in no time we were at the second hospital. It was late afternoon by now, and while Brian had had plenty to drink, we had only had a small bottle of water each. Not knowing we would be so long I hadn't taken anything with me, no phone or money. Billy's phone battery was on the point of giving out. We were shown to a four bed ward where he was given a bed. A nurse soon got a drip sorted and ,while Billy went out to wait for the Happy House mum coming to take over from us, I stayed with Brian. For a time I got him smiling and laughing, but he screamed and struggled when nurses put him on oxygen.
Billy arrived back with Sue and Dave who had brought the mum in to take over. How pleased little Brian was to see Mama Sue and Papa Dave.
It was well after 6.30pm by now and I while I had been so pleased to be able to help
our Happy House hero, I was ready to hand over to someone else.
This morning by the time Sue came downstairs she had called for a progress report and,thank God,he is getting better. Another mum has gone to take over and will stay with him overnight and, hopefully, he will be coming back home tomorrow - to the delight of his Happy House brothers and sisters.