When my ten-month-old son’s wobbly legs let him down for the umpteenth time yesterday, I didn’t think anything of it.
He crumpled to the ground, bumping his head on the way down and landed in a heap of surprised rage. I held him tightly while his chubby limbs pumped angrily and his face reddened with frustration.
It was only when he calmed down that I noticed a trickle of blood escaping from his nostril.
Panic. The mist of parent anxiety descended and I turned to Google. Whilst browsing horror stories I came across a link for NHS Direct and dialed anxiously.
Listening to the calm patient voice of the call handler asking me whether he had lost consciousness or had a seizure, I could feel myself relaxing as she took charge and reassured me. She gave me a list of things to watch out for and I thanked her before turning to find a small boy rampaging around the lounge, scattering toys in his wake.
However, later that afternoon I found him lying stock still staring at the ceiling. It was five minutes before I decided that enough was enough, bundled him into the car and we headed for A&E.
We were seen quickly by a friendly, confident doctor, and I started to feel foolish again as the little patient crawled around playing boisterously.
“Have you read much about head injuries?,” the Doctor asked, and I wrestled with the decision of whether to admit to being a medic myself. The confession seemed only fair, and in the following chat about work, he revealed he was a GPST1 too.
As he showed us out, it struck me that I was going to be back there in a few weeks – but in a very different role.
I have learned a lot on maternity leave that will inform my consultations with children and their parents during my training. So I felt a flicker of excitement at the prospect of being the calm and reassuring one again, putting my professional hat back on and rediscovering my ‘doctor’ self.
Steering the pushchair back out into the evening air, I felt the weight of parental responsibility fall back onto my shoulders, and vowed never to get exasperated with an anxious mum or dad again.
Laura O’Loghlen is a GPST1 who lives in Devon and trains in Gloucestershire.