Facing Scoliosis surgery was terrifying, but The Sick Children’s Trust kept mum close to me

Our Eckersley House 'Home from Home' proved vital for teenager Sophie Wade, allowing mum Lesley to remain as close as possible throughout her time in hospital.

17 year old Sophie Wade was naturally anxious about the thought of her spinal fusion surgery at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI), worsened by the fact that her mother was unable to stay with her in the hospital following the operation. Thankfully, our Eckersley House ‘Home from Home’ ensured that mum Lesley could stay close throughout her daughter’s stay. Lesley and Sophie tell us their story.

Lesley: We knew for many years that Sophie was going to need major surgery on her spine. Her scoliosis, a sideways curve of the spine was identified when she was ten years old. We had hoped it would stabilise, but it had been getting progressively worse so the prospect of surgery was hanging over us.

Mum Lesley Wade with daughter Sophie.

She was initially supposed to have spinal fusion surgery just before COVID hit, but circumstances at the time forced us to cancel. When it came around again, Sophie was turning 17. In many respects she was now classed as an adult, meaning that she might have to stay on an adult ward. Sophie was very worried about this, especially as it meant I could not stay with her. We didn’t know how much pain she would be on, or how mobile she would be. Naturally she wanted her family close, I felt helpless.

Sophie: I was really scared at the thought of being on an adult ward. I’d never been in hospital before, and my first time was going to be for a major operation that could last five or six hours. The thought of being there on my own was worrying. I really wanted mum with me.

Lesley: I just assumed I’d be able to be with her the whole time, but when I realised I couldn’t, it was a problem. The hospital’s covid rules restricted my options – we couldn’t stay in a hotel or use public transport, it was too big a risk. Besides, a hotel would have cost hundreds, which would hit us hard. My husband lost his job and had a heart attack prior to that. It was a traumatic time for all.

The hospital staff suggested The Sick Children’s Trust and their Eckersley House ‘Home from Home’. I had never heard of it. They put in a request for a room, but because of reduced capacity due to the pandemic we wouldn’t find out if we had one until the morning of the operation.

We were told that Sophie’s surgery would happen in the afternoon, but this changed and, suddenly, they were ready for her. It was a big shock, a moment we were not mentally prepared for, and we started to panic.  Thankfully, I received the call from Eckersley House. I had a room! Sophie went into surgery knowing that I could be with her for the duration of her stay. It was such a relief.

I don’t know what we would have done without Eckersley House. It was only 27 paces from the hospital door. It was comforting for Sophie to know I was there. It was very comforting for me too, being able to see her every day, knowing that she was ok and getting better.

The room was lovely, perfect for me to get the rest I needed. It was so much more than just a room, though. The kitchens, laundry room and all other facilities are a massive help to families that stay there, and the staff are wonderful. Jane, the manager of Eckersley House, was so welcoming, making me feel completely at home.

Sophie: I was so grateful that mum could be there. It was such a relief knowing that mum was nearby. It made me feel a lot safer. It felt like she was in the next room or across the hall. Thanks to Eckersley House, she kind of was.

Lesley: After a night on the High Dependency Unit, Sophie was moved to an adult ward, where she spent her second night.  Being surrounded by much older patients, some audibly in pain, some suffering confusion, was unnerving. Knowing I was literally yards away was reassuring.

Sophie Wade recovering after surgery at Leeds General Infirmary.

Sophie: It was a stressful time for me, and the whole family. I’m so pleased I don’t have it hanging over me any longer. I’m so happy that it’s over, I feel so much better. I had to have a big chunk of time away from college and phase back in gradually. Looking to the future, I am hoping to study medicine. I’ve been very lucky to have been able to do some work experience alongside the brilliant surgeon who operated on me, Mr Abhay Rao, which was just amazing.  Quite surreal!  He also introduced me to other amazing surgeons, doctors, nurses and I worked alongside them too. I’m not exactly sure what I want to do at this stage, but I do know that I want to work in a hospital, that’s for sure. I want to help people.

Lesley: Due to Sophie’s amazing recovery, which I’m convinced was aided by the fact she didn’t feel so alone, my stay at Eckersley lasted just four days. The support we received was invaluable, and it naturally left us wanting to give something back. I applied to a Community Fund scheme organised by my employer Lloyds Bank. The scheme helps local charities every year. Eckersley was top of my list, and I was thrilled to find out that we’ve been successful! Lloyds Bank will be giving £5,000 to support a long-awaited redecoration project at Eckersley House. It’s brilliant that The Sick Children’s Trust will benefit from this funding, and for us to give something back to the charity after it gave us so much.

Sophie Wade.

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