Dexter has always been susceptible to chest infections and had previously been admitted to hospital. So when he developed a cough I took him to our GP who checked Dexter over and gave him antibiotics. During the afternoon he started to get worse so I decided it was best to get him seen at the hospital.

Dexter Goodhew in PICU

My husband Mark was working in America so I went to the local A&E. Dexter was seen quickly and after a chest X-ray a doctor told me it was a chest infection. As a precaution they would keep him on the ward for some antibiotics and oxygen. I felt worried but as this had happened before I assumed it would be the same as last time and after one night of oxygen we would be sent home but as we got onto the ward things dramatically changed.

Dexter became more distressed and began grunting, it was clear he was really struggling to breathe.

Before I knew it the room was full of doctors and nurses. I was scared and really didn’t know what was going on. They tried to bring Dexter’s oxygen sats up by using several different machines, but it was getting lower and lower. A doctor explained to me that they wanted to move him and that they would be putting Dexter to sleep and on a machine to take over his breathing. I spoke to Mark on the phone and through tears tried to explain what was going on. It was all so hard to understand, an hour ago I was telling him not to worry and now I was telling him Dexter needed a machine to breathe and was being moved to an intensive care unit.

The next few hours were a blur. I was shown two X-rays, the first one taken when we first got to the hospital and the second one had just been taken. Dexter’s lungs had almost completely become full with the infection. The doctor explained the transfer to PICU. I knew nothing about St Marys PICU but they advised me it was an amazing unit.

The CATS team arrived and allowed me to watch and ask questions while they worked quickly but calmly. I felt so helpless looking at my baby on a ventilator with tubes everywhere. They were outstanding in the way they patiently prepared Dexter for his journey to intensive care.

We finally arrived at St Marys PICU at 5am in the morning. As they settled Dexter onto the ward I was taken to the Parents Room where a nurse sat with me as I asked question after question, I immediately felt secure. I was then taken to Dexter while I sat by him for what seemed like hours. It was going to be a long process to get his lungs clear and find out why this had happened.

Mark finally got to the hospital at 11am straight from the airport. We were able to speak to a doctor to find out the plan for Dexter. As we sat by his bed worrying about what was going to happen and trying not think the worst we were constantly being reassured by Dexter’s one to one nurse, who never left his room. We were reminded that we needed to eat with lunch being provided on the ward and that afternoon they sorted a hotel nearby for us to get some rest, as at this point we had both been up over 24 hours. I have never left Dexter’s side in a hospital before but with his wonderful nurse providing one to one care and the promise of being contacted if anything at all changed we felt he was in the best possible hands.

Dexter stayed in St Marys PICU for 5 days. During this time he saw two amazing doctors daily and was cared for by over 10 different but equally amazing nurses and physios. Each and every member of the PICU unit was approachable and caring, nothing was ever too much.

Dexter was diagnosed with a severe chest infection and is under our local hospital and GOSH for immunology issues. He is a normal, happy and extremely cheeky 2 year old that loves life!

This is the most difficult time that we have ever been through and we are so grateful for all the care that we all received at St Marys – we have COSMIC to thank for that!

You never really know how important these services are until you need them and without these services this could be a very different story.