When our daughter Caroline had just left nursery school, aged four, she had a skin complaint which the GP diagnosed and treated her for Impetigo.
We live in Bolton and came to holiday in Northumberland shortly after this diagnosis. Whilst in Northumberland, unfortunately Caroline’s condition worsened and we had to take her to see the local GP. He saw Caroline and told us it was ‘out of his league’ and called for an ambulance to take us straight to the Ward 5 in Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle.
I travelled with Caroline in the ambulance whilst Paul, my husband, and our seven year old daughter, Laura, stayed at the caravan park where we had been holidaying.
Caroline was admitted to Ward 5 on 29 August 1996. Caroline’s skin was in a very bad state and looked like burns and was shedding and her clothes had to be surgically cut away from her. She was very frightened, as was I. Fortunately she had a team of excellent doctors and nurses helping her.
Again fortunately, one of the nurses was talking to me about where we were from and I said Bolton but that we were holidaying in the area and she mentioned that there was a new place, Crawford House, part of The Sick Children’s Trust, that we could use during the time Caroline was in hospital.
She contacted the House Manager on our behalf and I went to see it to find out more. What a brilliant place. There was a room available to accommodate the three of us whilst Caroline was being treated in hospital. It was invaluable. Beautiful accommodation, very clean, very friendly and welcoming staff and very safe at a time when we needed to feel secure. It was also very convenient for the frequent number of times we had to keep dashing back to the various wards that Caroline was moved to.
Caroline was moved to Ward 6 then had to go into theatre a couple of times whilst the specialists did numerous tests and skin biopsies to diagnose her skin condition which turned out to be SSSS – Staphylococcal Scalded Skin Syndrome. SSSS develops because of a toxin produced by a staphylococca infection and the toxin spreads to the skin through the blood stream and binds in the outer skin layer producing total reddening of the skin and blistering, resembling scalding of the skin.
Caroline was then moved into Intensive Care, Ward 3 and finally into Ward 2. Finally to our great relief she was discharged on 9 September 1996.
It was an extremely frightening and worrying time for all of us. Luckily we were in the right place at the right time with the fantastic team of dedicated and specialist staff we encountered in Royal Victoria Infirmary who went ‘the extra mile’ for Caroline.
We consider ourselves to be very lucky that Crawford House was available to us. We could not have coped without our home from home.
We will always be eternally grateful.
Chris and Paul Hayes, Caroline and Laura’s parents