When she was just three days old, we found out our little girl, Phoebe, had a hole in her heart. It was a hole the size of a grape, in a heart just the size of a plum. Needless to say, we were shocked.
We were eager to get Phoebe’s treatment underway, but over the next few weeks she had lots of complications and was in and out of hospital constantly. The hospital decided it was too much of a risk to her tiny heart, when she was so poorly, to carry out the treatment.
But as the weeks progressed, Dr Wiley at our local hospital, James Cook, said she wanted to transfer Phoebe to Freeman Hospital for specialist surgery as soon as possible. We just had to wait for a bed. Phoebe had to remain at James Cook until one became available – luckily this didn’t have too much impact on our family life as my partner Caroline could go between Phoebe and our three boys, and I could work. We knew things would become a lot more strained when we travelled to Freeman Hospital. How would we be there for Phoebe? How would we afford to travel back and forth every day? What if I needed to come home and Caroline needed to stay with Phoebe? So much was going through our minds, it was an added stress that we didn’t need.
We were told there would be accommodation at Freeman Hospital, but we had no idea what it would be like. Knowing this did help relieve some of the stress, and shortly after we were given the news that Phoebe would be operated on almost immediately, which helped even more.
On the day Phoebe was transferred, we were introduced to The Sick Children’s Trust’s Scott House. What a fantastic place! Phoebe was in theatre for seven hours and during this time we became familiar with our new ‘Home from Home’. We were so relieved; having a private place to go and relax somewhat made things that little bit better.
After her operation, Phoebe spent a week recovering and to be honest, we were over at her bedside as much as possible. But without Scott House, we wouldn’t have been able to do this. We live in Middlesbrough, and at the time I didn’t drive so having to get the train or the bus would have been so time-consuming. I would have spent such little time with Phoebe – not to mention that the expense would have been astronomical.
Scott House is a brilliant facility, giving parents the opportunity to be there with their sick child at any time, through the ups and the downs. Being able to go back, cook a meal and sit together – having a conversation outside the clinical environment of the hospital was really beneficial to our emotional wellbeing. For me, one thing I’d not appreciated so much before was a hot shower. The fact you were able to have a shower was amazing, and Scott House’s showers are brilliant!
It took Phoebe just a week to recover – one week! She’s a little fighter, and proved it during that time. Since she’s been back home, she’s been doing really well.
Now that things have started to even out, we’re holding a huge family fun day for The Sick Children’s Trust and CHUF (the Children’s Heart Unit Fund) to say thank you for all they did for us. We will hopefully raise enough funds to help more families who may have a similar experience to us because without Scott House, it wouldn’t have been possible for us to be there by Phoebe’s bedside.
Lee Morris, Phoebe’s Dad
*Lee and Caroline are joining The Sick Children’s Trust’s Big Chocolate Tea fundraising event from 22 April – 2 May and are calling for their local community to get involved too. Big Chocolate Tea is aims to raise thousands of pounds to help support more families across the UK with ‘Home from Home’ accommodation when their child is sick in hospital.