….and Breathe

My dears, it’s been an age. Hope you’ve been well and aren’t too downcast by this strange Brexiteering world we’ve been plunged into. I’m sorry I haven’t been here in your hour of need, but I was on important business, having the holiday of a lifetime. I’m not allowed to say any more about that for a while, so instead I’ll rewind back to my departure from the UK, with Child One – especially as today is the NHS’s 68th birthday and this is all about the total wondrousness of our NHS.

Now, I know that my blog is read by relatives and concerned friends, so I’ll say at the outset that Everything Is Fine and No One Was Hurt. But it was probably one of the nearest near-death experiences I’ve had with Child One.

Mind you, she’s got form. When we took her to Mexico when she was only six months old, she managed to get one of those containers of UHT milk stuck in her mouth, when her father and I took our eyes off her for a second. Her mouth was a perfect round O, filled entirely by the plastic pot. We prised it out, she was fine. Then, years later, on the day before she left to start uni, she nearly choked to death on a fishbone. I applied the Heimlich manoeuvre and, guess what, it works. In fact, I was tickled the other day to see that Dr Heimlich himself had to perform his own manoeuvre, for the very first time, on a fellow inmate of his retirement home. My own expertise was entirely due, not to years of medical training and clever invention, but to watching Mrs Doubtfire umpteen times with my girls when they were little. They particularly loved the bit where Piers Brosnan nearly chokes to death on a well-chili-peppered prawn – thank goodness.

This time, it was asthma. The tickly cough which she has had, intermittently, since starting uni had just been diagnosed, to my astonishment, as asthma. The GP gave her a blue inhaler (the reliever) and said he’d prescribe the brown one (the preventer) if it got worse. This seemed a little silly to me, even at the time. Why not give her the full set? But he didn’t.


Anyway, get worse it did – at Heathrow Airport at Terminal 5. It was the crack of dawn, and as chilly as only a British summer can be, but her coughing was not the normal reaction of a 20-year-old forced from her bed at 3am. It was severe asthma, and I was getting alarmed. The blue inhaler didn’t seem to help at all. At Boots, the very sensible pharmacist suggested we ring NHS 111, and try and get a doctor to prescribe the brown inhaler and fax the prescription to the airport, where it would be rushed from the ‘land’ side to the ‘air’ side, through airport security.

It seemed a very tall order, to get all this done in the 1.5 hours that was all the time left before our flight took off. But, long story short – and missing out the not-very-helpful nurse – we finally got through to a lovely GP and she sorted out the prescription. Wonderful Boots did the rest, literally running through security for us. We boarded the plane with Child One taking reassuring puffs on the brown inhaler – and that was the end of her asthma throughout the whole holiday.

Phew. Time to take a deep breath.


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