READER REPORT:

Xmas Day in emergency room

LOUISE PARENAGA
Last updated 12:17 27/12/2012
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Hope Parenaga having an ECG at Waikato Hospital.

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Christmas Day excitement turned to terror for Louise Parenga when her two-year-old daughter collapsed and stopped breathing.

Like many parents on Christmas morning, I was woken by excited children eager to see what Santa had brought them.

The exception is our two-year-old daughter, Hope. Her father hands her to me and says she had a temperature. I sit on the couch with her trying to get her enthusiastic about opening her presents - she had been so excited in the days leading up to Christmas that I was keen to see her face light up this year.

She promptly throws up the contents of her bottle over me and shows no interest in her new toys.

Later, the older kids get out the new waterslide and get in to the fun of it. Hope eventually joins them and I think this will help get her temperature down, as pamol hasn't seemed to reduce it much.

After lunch she sits on me and dozes off. While she sleeps I watch her thinking, 'is she twitching or are my eyes playing up'?

She wakes up and goes back out to where her siblings continue to race down the water slide. The next sound I hear is the screams of Hope's 12-year-old brother.

She has collapsed and is fitting on the lawn.

We race out and pick her up. She is not breathing. She is hot.

I manage to reestablish her breathing and we both hop in the shower to cool her down while our 16-year-old daughter rings 111.

Emergency staff arrive and find her temperature isn't dangerously high, but her heart rate is: 179 beats per minute.

Kawhia ambulance was met by a Hamilton ambulance on the Kawhia road and they rushed her through to Waikato Hospital. When I arrive by car I see a member of St John and ask if he brought a girl from Kawhia and he let me straight in to see her. My older sister, who is also a St John officer, met my husband there so he wasn't alone until I arrived.

We get up to Waikato's children's emergency ward about 4.15pm.

Hope has her vitals taken. Her temperature is 37.8 but her heart is still racing. Blood tests are done and the early signs of an infection are present but not enough to cause her heart to beat so fast. They put her on the ECG machine to try and figure out what is going on. They discover a heart murmur but that is not the cause. She has chest x-rays but they are clear.

While we sit there scared and confused an orderly arrives and gives Hope a darling teddy bear called Edward - E.D.ward. She loves it. I look out and notice that every single child that is seen in the emergency ward on Christmas Day is given a present. The only name I can make out on the sticker is Miriam. This lady has kindly donated these gifts and we would like to thank her. This small gesture kept our girl occupied and distracted while going through tests.

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We were relieved when at 1am Hope's temperature and heart rate had settled enough for us to go and stay with family in Hamilton.

The hospital staff were so fantastic and we, as a family who ended up spending a big part of Christmas Day in the emergency department, would like to say thank you to all who were there with us on the day, missing out on family time to care for our family. The nurse we had for our last few hours there, Bing, was outstanding. She never minded if we kept asking for this or that, anything to keep Hope happy and relaxed. The receptionist, sorry I forgot your name, was so caring and made us feel relaxed in a tense time.

The doctors were, as usual, rushed off their feet but still took as much time as we required to discuss concerns and issues we had.

The St John and fire emergency staff from Kawhia were outstanding, ensuring not only that our sick child was taken care of, but calming her upset siblings and parents. They are unsung heroes of our community - leaving their families to help us on Christmas Day.

Hope will have more tests taken in the New Year to find out the cause of her illness.


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