I’ve spent a few New Year’s Eves in A&E; as a patient, as a wife, and as a police officer. So I shouldn’t have been surprised to find myself there on the last day of 2012.
I was making jewellery with the children (I am now the proud owner of a pair of mis-matched plastic earrings) when Georgie appeared in the kitchen after half an hour of suspicious silence elsewhere in the house. When Georgie is nervous about something she loses the power of speech, preferring to conduct communications through the medium of mime. This can be a little frustrating for everyone.
She pointed to her nose, with her eyes widened just enough to indicate that something was going badly wrong.
‘Do you need to blow your nose, Georgie?’
She shook her head, pointed to her nose again, then at the pile of beads.
‘Georgie, you’re nearly five. Please tell me you didn’t put a bead up your nose?’
She started to cry.
By a process of elimination (One like this? How about this one?) we established what sort of bead it was. I don’t know why this was important, but it gave me some thinking time. Unfortunately it also provoked an argument with the other children (but I NEEDED that one!) By this point Georgie had recovered her ability to talk, and was hysterical, sobbing something about the bead getting into her brain. Given that she was daft enough to put a bloody bead in her nose in the first place, I was fairly certain its arrival in her brain wouldn’t impact too much on her IQ, but decided not to share my views on the subject.
It appeared that Georgie had spent a good twenty minutes trying to get the bead out herself, before coming downstairs. Any chance of me recovering it myself had been ruined by the work of a four-year-old with a pencil, and the bead was now lodged too far up her nose even to see, let alone remove. Blowing her nose resulted in screams of pain. There was no choice but to get the professionals in. I was cheered by a comment on Facebook (there is always time to share health emergencies on social media platforms, isn’t there?) from a doctor friend of mine, proclaiming that foreign object removals are among the more satisfying jobs for a doctor, so at least we would be ending someone else’s year on a high.
The half-hour drive to A&E was punctuated by helpful suggestions from Georgie’s siblings (just sniff it up, Georgie), followed by my own calm responses (don’t you DARE, Georgie!), and a growing wave of hunger pangs from all three children. Already an hour past lunchtime, and faced with the prospect of a long wait in A&E I decided it would be judicial to take a slight detour and pick up some sandwiches. (You’re thinking you’d have raced straight to hospital, aren’t you? Honestly, a bead wasn’t going to kill her, but two hungry siblings might have done.)
I had of course forgotten about the hordes of people who decide that New Year’s Eve isn’t complete without a couple of hours in Sainsbury’s, loading a trolley with food they don’t need. Had I been dashing in for Calpol I’d have pulled the emergency card and jumped the queue, but I wasn’t sure three tuna sandwiches would have the same impact. Deciding it would be dangerous to leave Georgie in the car with her brother and sister, who had been thinking up ever-more inventive methods of bead-extraction, I had brought her with me, and she wailed at full-pitch as we queued for the till.
‘It’s in my braaaaaaiiin!’
‘No it isn’t.’
‘It’s nnnn-ever ggggg-oing to ccccc-ome out!’
‘Yes it will.’
‘I’ve gone bliiiiiiind.’
This last one was true. The bead was near the bridge of her nose, with a visible bump where her glasses should sit. Wearing them was agony, so we had left them at home. Stress had made her squint worse than ever and she looked like a poster-child for an eye-sight charity. Every five minutes I made her blow her nose in an attempt to dislodge the bead, provoking lots of tears but no bead. I think everyone was relieved when we got to the till.
Eventually we got back into the car and drove to A&E, facing the usual car park carnage. I squeezed into a space and took a deep breath, preparing myself for the New Year’s Eve assortment of casualty inmates.
And then Georgie sneezed. A purple bead flew out and hit the windscreen. The children cheered, and I turned the car round and drove home again.
Happy New Year.