We were lead into an isolation room and there he lay, our tiny baby with leads and tubes running to a wall of machines mounted behind him. Machines were monitoring all his vital organs. Machines were administering medications and machines were breathing for him. He looked asleep but it was not a natural sleep.
Machines and procedures were explained to us but we didn't understand. A nurse stood at the end of the bed and didn't leave the room. ICU is 24 hour monitoring and if the nurse needs to leave the room to run a test, find equipment or medication or take a personal break another nurse must be at the bedside before they leave. We had grave looking doctors asking questions, writing notes and having conversations. Everyone was introduced to us but it was all too much to take in. We were at saturation point and in utter shock.
A nurse asked if we had eaten and we realized that we had not eaten anything for 30 hours. They keep a supply of frozen meals for just these situations and quickly two meals were chosen and heated up for us. We moved into a side room to eat and exhaustion started to creep over me. I'd been awake for almost two days.
We returned to Cameron and sat next to him. Every time a machine beeped or beeeeeeeped we jumped. Everything was so scarey. Could we touch him, could we kiss him, could he hear us, was he with us? We decided that we would not leave Cameron alone, one of us would be with him at all times.
Finally Michael convinced me that I needed to sleep and he would take the first shift, I didn't want to leave Cameron or Michael. Finally I dragged myself away and was fighting back the tears as I walked down the passage to our room.
I didn't really sleep, I tossed and turned and started to have the recurring thought which didn't leave me for several years - This is all a dream, I am going to wake up in my bed.
As soon as light started to peep through the curtains I got up and had a shower. I was desperate to wash my hair and had no idea there were rules about bringing electrical equpment into the hospital so I was rather stunned when a nurse suddenly appeared when I started using my hair dryer. I learnt quickly that all electrical appliances must be checked by the hospital electrician and don't make loud noises when the patients are sleeping.
I went back to Cameron's room to find everything as I had left it. Michael was sitting there beside him and Cameron's machines were still monitoring him and keeping him alive. However things had developed while I was gone. Cameron's test results had returned and Michael had medical books which the staff had given him to try and explain why our son was so sick.