Category Archives: outreach teacher

Happy Mothers Day, Happy Birthday and WOW WOW, unbelieveable!

T+128

I have so much to write about that I’m not sure where to begin? So in the wise words of the King in Alice in Wonderland I’ll ” begin at the beginning and go on until I come to the end.”

Last Sunday Dan left for Wembley accompanied by my sister Charlie, my brother in law Joffy, Dan’s sister Lucy and our sister in law Wend and their solitary cheerleader , my brother in law, Mat. They were heading to the Sure Run to the Beat 2014 where they completed a 10k run. They managed to raise over £6,000 in sponsorship for Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity which was amazing.

Herbie's Dream Team
Herbie’s Dream Team

With that success in the bag the week continued in a positive mode. Monday was Herbie’s IVIG infusion day which meant an 8.30am appointment at the JR in Daycare. The traffic was bad and we arrived almost 25 minutes late but the nurses reassured us that it wasn’t a problem. Herbie also needed bloods taken for his weekly blood levels, ciclosporin levels, amikacin levels and, this week only, he needed the first of his line cultures to check for a line infection.
Although we had arrived at 9am by 10am nothing had happened. As 11am approached a student nurse popped in to do a set of obs. I pointed out that we had another appointment with community nurses at home at 2.30pm (IVIG takes about 3 hours to infuse). Although the nurses smiled sweetly nothing seemed to happen! Herbie was beginning to get rather fed up and so was I , finally at 12.50pm the bloods were taken! Nearly 4 hours after we arrived! The Gammaplex went up. It has to be given over 3 hours with the rate increasing over time if tolerated. Herbie sometimes gets back pain and despite Piriton he got it this time.the gammaplex kept getting air in the line as it was so frothy and so the alarms kept going off and it took ages!
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We finally left the JR at 4.45pm and were home for 5.30pm , after battling Oxford’s rush hour, and greeted by the community nurse Sarah who was setting up his iv’s!
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Herbie has remained fever free since my last entry and this means that we are now 18 days at home. Doesn’t sound much but the amazing fact is that that is the longest time spent at home since transplant!

Back in January of this year Herbie turned 5. He was in the JR and had a blood transfusion on that day. He had wanted a new green maxi micro scooter but we didn’t get one for his birthday as he was so unwell. Finally, at the grand old age of 5 years and 8 months Herbie was able to finally take ownership of a brand new, green, scooter! Happy belated birthday to my gorgeous boy. He loved scooting around the village on it!

Happy birthday (+8 months!) Herbalicious
Happy birthday (+8 months!) Herbalicious

First scoot on the new wheels
First scoot on the new wheels

However, as always he overdid it and got ‘tummy ache’ resulting in an hour of lethargy.
When Victoria, his outreach teacher, arrived he was not very responsive which was sad.
Herbie wasn’t the only one to have a late celebration. I finally got to use my Mother’s Day 2013 (no that isn’t a typo) voucher on Thursday and had a wonderful hour of pampering at The Junction in Witney. Happy Mother’s Day 2013 to me! I really needed that hour, it was a great recharge for my running on empty batteries!

As I type I can confirm that so far the line cultures are still negative for infection. Based on the fact that fevers have stopped that is hardly a surprise. The GVHD has resolved leaving his skin a tad blotchy (nothing new there!) and a little dry but nothing extra moisturising won’t cure. He is meeting fluid targets and thankfully hasn’t had an over night water bolus for weeks and no over night feed since his time in GOS. His meds remain unchanged but his bloods are looking much better again which we hope means that we are no longer derailed and are back on schedule.

HB 12.2
WCC 5.93
Neutrophils 5.16
Lymphocytes 0.30
Platelets 220

His HB and Platelets are fab, no transfusions for months, neutrophils & WCC back in normal range and lymphocytes coming back up nicely. Fingers crossed these improvements continue. Next bloods are Monday.

Herbie is enjoying the return of his outreach teaching. One hour a day again but this term he’s got a job share which is nice for him. New faces are always welcomed when you are home most of the time with restricted visitors. This week ,in keeping with his school theme, we made some soup. It was yummy!
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Dan and I are tentatively thinking ahead. It’s still very early days to make plans but we have so many lovely treats awaiting us courtesy of lovely friends and family that we finally feel we could think about using. Tea and cake at Huffkins, meals at The Fishes, The Chequers Smokehouse (a recent addition from my lovely work colleagues), afternoon tea at The Randolph and a meal at Cafe Rouge. Hopefully fun times ahead at last!

Friday was the eagerly anticipated Kate Bush gig. As previously blogged a wonderfully generous member of my family had offered us tickets way back in the year and it’s been pulling me through transplant ever since. Last week it transpired that only one of us would be able to make it after all as Sam’s name was printed on the tickets and photo id was required. Obviously we were disappointed but Dan, knowing that I have been a fan since she appeared in the seventies said I needed to go. Sam had done all he could via phone calls etc to try to get around the restrictions but had hit a brick wall.
Dan decided to come with me but go to the cinema whilst I went with Sam to see Kate! Traffic was awful and we arrived late to meet Sam who had been waiting outside the venue for at least 45 minutes! He asked us to try to get in together although signs everywhere screamed at us to get the photo Id ready. As expected the guy on the door said no entry without ID and we explained that we were with the ticket owner. Sam showed his ID and we were in! Sam didn’t get to see her in the end and I was totally overwhelmed by his generosity and thoughtfulness xxx We had an amazing night, The nineth wave was amazing and we were treated to a night that overloaded our senses, made me laugh and (for the first time ever) made me cry ( Running up that hill just transports me back to transplant now). All I can say is WOW WOW WOW WOW…UNBELIEVEABLE!

So I end this blog entry , 128 days post transplant, in a very positive place and feeling like I am on the edge of the diving board, about to plunge into the next pool. Hopefully this one is full of warm, crystal blue water and we can wallow there for a while.

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He’s a champ!

T+75

My mobile let out the train whistle sound at 7.13am this morning and woke me with a start. For a split second my heart was in my mouth. The train whistle ring tone is reserved only for Dan. Herbie chose it when I got my first iPhone when he was just getting into trains. What was Dan’s message going to say?

It could be good news, no fevers, coming home etc but then again it was early, maybe Dan needed to offload a bad night?  I can’t explain how it feels to be so torn about where to be when one of your children is in hospital. Despite always wanting to be with Herbie 24 hours a day throughout his hospital experiences I need to go home for two main reasons.

1) we have three other young children at home who need me

2) you sometimes need to recharge the batteries to have strength and courage for the next steps

However leaving causing more stress at times, I’m not great at not knowing exactly what is going on and Dan often, and he’d be the first to admit this, doesn’t always take in what the doctors say.

So…when I heard the ringtone telling me a message was there from Dan I hesitated , just momentarily, wondering what news was winging it’s way to me. It was this…

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I was so relieved! I counted the hours, just shy of twelve since the last spike. If you have followed my blog throughout transplant you will know that this means nothing for the Herbster, back in GOSH just when we thought the spikes were over they returned. However I remained optimistic and was able to start the day with a bigger smile than the day before!
Further texts confirmed he was up, dressed and watching the LEGO movie, for the umpteenth time!

I know that we were incredibly fortunate to have a sibling donor in Rufus but once again let me stress just how much lives can be changed by having a bone marrow match. Not just the recipient but those around them that love them. Anthony Nolan were highlighting this again today on their Facebook page. I was pleased to see that the boy highlighted not only made a full recovery from transplant in GOSH three years ago but was a PID patient. He had Chronic Granulomatous Disorder, like Herb & Lily’s NEMO it is extremely rare. We met a family during our time in GOSH whose son was also suffering from this, thankfully he was also found a donor through Anthony Nolan. Many people who hear the words Bone marrow transplant automatically assume cancer and leukaemia are the reasons for needing one. They often are, but more and more Primary Immune Deficiency patients are also being treated like Herbie and lots of the children we met on Fox and Robin Wards at GOSH. If you think you could be a donor please investigate further and to my friends and followers who are from the ethnic minority communities your help is even more precious as the are less registered donors but still the need. Like our other GOSH friend Milan.
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As well as being a bone marrow donor I have also often blogged about the need for blood donors and platelet donors. Herbie required more platelets again today, the fevers and cystitis had given his a bit of a hammering again, second transfusion in less than a week.
It’s a big thing to the recipients. Go register!

So after some quality time with the three of the Fab Four and a little retail therapy I headed back down the A40 to the JR with a happier outlook.
Dan had let me know that Herbie was still afebrile and he was drinking again and eating a little. All positive signs!

When I arrived my small Rice Krispie sat on the bed frowning and said “about time too”, the cheek was back. He looked so much better than yesterday and he was definitely brighter and was back singing and playing games. I heard about a visit from Victoria his outreach teacher and the lovely Bellhouse Drayson Ward Play Specialists with team Herb badges which Herbie was extremely proud of! They are so awesome! He also had a crown too! So pleased that Lily and Kitty did so well with the fundraising for Bellhouse Drayson (with thanks to Auntie Cathy too!) The girls have lots of fab toys for them.
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Lily is already planning the next fundraising activity for the JR!

Apparently, according to Herbie, the badges were much sort after…Dr Liam, who had visited and Teresa ,his nurse ,both wanted one he said. “Put them in your bag and take them home” he whispered “because I need to give them to my best friends Sam and Lily, Libby and James.” So it appeared even his own family were not allowed them! “I need my friends on my team too” he explained.

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Another thing to celebrate is his hair growth! Very exciting! My long haired boy will be back before I know it! My little Rice Krispie really is becoming Baby Pineapple (Lily’s nickname for him) with his spiky top!
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This weekend sees a friend’s daughter shave her head for charity. It’s her 12th birthday and she is giving her hair as a gift to a wig making charity? Such a courageous thing to do. Drop by at the a Turner Hall in North Leigh this Saturday to be part of her big fundraising day. Shannon is pictured below with her lovely mum Sarah and our dear friend Leigh whose son and our ‘adoptive nephew’ Hugo also lost his hair during his battle with ALL (Leukaemia ). Thankfully he is now recovered and sporting a rather amazing head of curls!
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So I left Herbie with a dairylea dunker and no temperature, 100% SATS and the knowledge that he seemed to have turned a corner today, even the cystitis is greatly improved with just a trace of blood measuring in his wee now (and not an oestrogen patch to be seen yet!)
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It feels like we are winning. As nothing has grown yet he needs to complete the antibiotic course, this may make going home tricky but we will see.
The pump has arrived for the water at home, we just need our Small back!
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HO HO HO …it’s drawing nearer

T+54

I want to start the blog by talking about community tonight.
This whole transplant journey to date has shown me that community spirit is still very much alive out there. So many things over the last few months that I have written about here in the blog that have really amazed me. North Leigh School super hero day…what a thoughtful gesture to celebrate my brave boys whilst the children have fun and learn and raise money for GOSH. The school really have supported our family so well prior to and during BMT. They have looked after Lily, Kitty & Rufus, valuing them and supporting them and ensured Herbie has always felt part of the school despite not properly attending since November 2013! The Skype sessions with his class, the post and books sent, gifts from teachers and teaching assistants. The community spirit extends beyond the school, fellow Nor Lye residents donating money to the Dream Team from prize money for winning races to best scarecrow. The net goes wider… To my school community. Witney Community Primary staff have supported me through this, making it easier for me to dedicate my time to my family but giving me the space to return, the parents have sent messages of support and gifts to Great Ormond Street, one even plans a Super hero day at her nursery to raise money for GOSH. BUT the net goes wider still…
This morning I receive a text from Herbie’s wonderful outreach teacher telling me that she was at Blake School in Witney watching the Y6 class do their end of year play. They chose 3 charities , one being GOSH , to raise money for and named Herbie as their reason for the choice! Then I receive a message from a friend and fellow FS teacher at the same school saying they also want to do a superhero day next week too , all proceeds to GOSH! I’m overwhelmed by everyone’s thoughtfulness and support.

I headed back to London this morning, arriving in time to go through the discharge talk with Rehka and Dan. Quite a lot to take on board there! Then there was the meds to prepare and administer.
Herbie was thrilled to see Rehka.

Rehka and Herbie
Rehka and Herbie

They had a real giggle today.
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Dan left to go home briefly and watch the girls play leaving Herbie to enjoy his post!

Thanks Lily & Sam for the brill books and room decoration
Thanks Lily & Sam for the brill books and room decoration
Thank you Harry!
Thank you Harry!
Thanks Donna and Richard.
Thanks Donna and Richard.
Thanks Rachel, Ade, Sid and Archie.
Thanks Rachel, Ade, Sid and Archie.

He doesn’t have one, he loves the Mixel and it’s all brill (including Dan and I’s treat.)

Thanks Jo, Richard, Elsie, Meg and Seren!
Thanks Jo, Richard, Elsie, Meg and Seren!
News from Floss!
News from Floss!

Jess was his teacher again but Helen popped by with his learning record of her time as his teacher.image

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Herbie was quite sad about the possibility of not seeing Helen again and promised to look for her when he comes back for clinic.

The bloods were in
HB 103
WCC 12.12
Neutrophils 9.85
Lymphocytes 1.45
Platelets 160

Kidney and Liver functions improving daily.

There was the obligatory walk to the vending machine to purchase steroid hunger foods.
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There was also some superhero action.
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Sarah , one of the HCAs , looked after him tonight. She also looked after Lily this time last year!
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After our late night Skatoony episodes Herbie escaped onto the ward! He was hilarious and loud!
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But ended up with tummy ache again from running about!

A full tummy and over 2000mls of fluid drunk meant he felt asleep immediately.
I did his 11pm meds and now I must sleep! One of the nurses, Emma, went on holiday today, she left him this note!
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Tomorrow is another day closer …
HO! HO! HO!
I just can’t say it! Fingers crossed xxxx

“He’s not missing much…he’s only in Foundation”

Some things make me so angry that I really feel my head may explode. I think one of the most annoying comments during this recent bout of illness for Herbie is the one regarding his education. In September 2013 Herbie started Primary School. He was so excited, his new class opened a whole world of opportunity. He asked daily when he would get his first reading book, told me in detail each lesson in maths, phonics and made us proud with his eagerness to learn. He had seen his big sisters and brother attend this school, he knew the drill, he wanted in! His puffed out chest and smiling face as he first put on his uniform is forever imprinted on my memory. He is a social butterfly, when I ask every day at 3pm “who did you play with today?” He replies “everyone, I like everyone, they are all my friends”. He tells me about the Christmas play, his dream to be a sheep in it (?) and sings the songs he’s started learning. He brings amazing junk models home and pretty much hogs the Monsters Inc Sully costume on a daily basis.
By his first parent’s evening in November he is off school ill, he has had a temperature for 2 days. “He’s made a great start” his teacher tells me “he’s such a comedian too”. He is, Herbie loves nothing more than ‘having a giggle and making people laugh’. We often discuss his perfect comic timing! I tell her, he’ll be back soon. Couple of days off at the most.

Herbie hasn’t been back to school since November 15th 2013.

Apparently many people believe this isn’t an issue…it is. Maybe they forget that I myself am a Foundation Stage teacher. I know exactly what he is missing and I know he wants to be back at school. During his hospital visits he attends hospital school when he can. He cooks, makes an amazing lantern, practises his phonics, his numbers and plays drums and other instruments. It’s a wonderful resource, he loves Juliet his teacher. During two weeks in lock down in a room in Bellhouse Drayson Ward in the Oxford Children’s hospital, Juliet brings school to him. We both look forward to this hour of respite , for me I can leave the room and drink tea! For him he can capture a moment or two of normality. One morning when the doctors come round they comment on how down he seems, he won’t speak or get up off of the bed. Finally he whispers to me why he is so down. His answer is not what I expect. He doesn’t ask to go home, to leave the confines of the room or even to have a break from the endless oral and iv medication. He simply says “why didn’t the teacher come, I wanted her to”

Juliet is brilliant, she tells me that he is entitled to outreach teaching and offers to liaise with everyone and sort it out. Today, March 3rd, Herbie had his first session with his outreach teacher, Victoria. He greets her dressed as a fox. He runs eagerly to see what she has in store and for just over an hour, as I potter around the house , they laugh, giggle and learn together. My heart sings! “When will she come again?” he asks just ten minutes after she has gone. “I want her to come every day.”

School

So the answer is “yes he is missing vital things when he can’t go to school” , he’s missed his first Christmas production, his first Christmas Fayre, First world book day and most of all he is missing out on learning and the social world of school that he loves so much. If they had witnessed his tears last Friday after he was reunited with his buddies in the playground when he asked me “can I go back to school now?” And I said “not yet” ,perhaps they would not say “it’s ok, he’s not missing much” …

Fox