Tag Archives: Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital

How Peter Andre opened a door to happiness for sick Daisy

14 Dec

Daisy in hospital recently

Daisy in hospital recently

THE last four months have been a living hell for my granddaughter Daisy.

She’s spent roughly half that time in hospital, has lost two stone in weight and her once-rosy cheeks have been replaced by a ghostly white complexion.

She is currently on a medical regime which involves taking 32 pills a day…plus a fortnightly injection she describes as ‘’like a really bad wasp sting’’.

Even when Daisy is not in hospital, she’s bent double in agony much of the time and cannot go to school. Such is life for a 12 year-old with a particularly aggressive type of Crohn’s Disease.
At what should be the most exciting time of her life, she’ll become a teenager next month not knowing what the future holds. If she is lucky, the ulceration of her bowel will respond to treatment and the digestive spasms that crease her up will ease – just as they did for her older sister Rosie, 21. She has the same incurable illness as Daisy, but has been in remission for four years.

If she’s unlucky, Daisy will require major surgery. It all seems so unfair for a youngster whose dad suffered a massive brain haemorrhage when she was three years old and has been in hospital, paralysed and blind, ever since.

Last Friday Daisy was discharged from her latest hospital stay, even though she was far from well. The lives of her medical team would have been at risk had they refused to let her go. Her mother Hayley  had booked tickets to see Peter Andre ‘Up Close and Personal’  at Manchester’s Apollo Theatre and this was one event she was NOT going to miss.

Two years ago, Daisy was photographed with singing heartthrob Andre at a CD signing at a local ASDA store in Manchester – and prayed for the day she could see her idol in concert. Now it was actually going to happen…with family friend Louisa, a qualified nurse, joining Hayley’s entourage at the Apollo in case Daisy’s pains became intolerable during the evening.

We’d been racking our brains for a way to contact Peter Andre in the hope he might just find time to say hello to her. We knew it was a forlorn hope…and with 3,500 fans yelling for his attention at the Apollo, that forlorn hope quickly deteriorated to ‘no chance’. Their seats were four rows from the back…just about as far from the stage as it was possible to get.

Frail Daisy was dwarfed by adults vying for the best viewing points and as everyone leapt to their feet to welcome their hero, she was left staring at people’s backs. In desperation, she stood on her seat to get a better view and was immediately ordered down by the fans behind her.

In tears, she resigned herself to the worst. At least she could hear her idol, she reasoned. That was better than nothing.

Then fate took a hand in the most dramatic way. Someone pointed out a free seat in the very back row; here was a chair Daisy could stand on without fear of being ordered to sit down and where she could get an uninterrupted, if distant, view of her beloved Peter.
The six-stone waif was about to enter dreamland.
In the distance, Andre left the stage as his dancing entourage began a routine to the tune of John Lennon’s Imagine.

Then the hand of fate took over. ‘Suddenly Peter emerged from a door just to Daisy’s right, singing – and started walking along the aisle behind us,’’ says Hayley.

“Daisy turned round and he saw her straight away. She was crying hysterically and Peter came straight over to her and started singing to her. He touched her face and she grabbed his arm…and then he moved away.

“Daisy somehow found the energy to jump over the seat and run after him but was held back by one of his minders.

daisy with peter andre

HAPPY DAY: Peter signs a CD for Daisy in 2010

“But it was an amazing experience for her and a fantastic pick-me-up that none of us could have dreamed of.’’

Daisy is still overcome by the experience: ‘’I can’t believe what happened. I and lots of my friends had been tweeting him for two weeks hoping he might just agree to say hi to me but it was more in hope than expectation. Then it just happened all by chance. I actually felt the muscles in his arm and I can tell you he smelt wonderful!’’

A great perfumance, you might say – and one that brought a rare smile from a child whose happy personality has been knocked sideways by her health problems.

We all know that pain and happiness just don’t mix. But for those few wonderful seconds at the back of the Apollo, agony turned to ecstasy for a sick child…and the hand of fate showed its gentle side.

Thanks, Peter.

Published in The Courier (www.thecourier.es) December 7, 2012

Pay as your loved ones suffer: Hospital car parks a sick joke

14 Jan

Last summer I spent four days in Elche Hospital as a guest of the Spanish health service – and my only complaint was that the food was inedible. I bet you’d also cringe at the thought of a salad or bowl of clear soup devoid of a single grain of salt.

I’ve sucked tastier water from a dishcloth than the ultra-bland consommé the nurse plonked in front of me as an aperitif to my menial first meal as a patient.

There was method in that Friday afternoon madness, of course. Because I was in a coronary ward and I do have angina. But even my acutely health-conscious daughter has been unable to convince me that I’m shortening my life by going condimental before I tuck in. I do make one concession to the medical experts, mind you – I NEVER put salt on my dessert.

In the event, I was discharged from hospital the following Monday three kilos lighter after passing my medical tests with flying blood pressure (another abysmal Donna attempt at humour – my BP was actually normal, thanks to the medication I’ve been taking for the past five years). I couldn’t wait for my first taste of f

reedom and dreamt of ending my enforced diet with a portion of salt- and-pepper ribs and a salt-beef sandwich. Maybe with a packet of liquorice ‘all-salts’ for afters.

But I digress. This article is not meant to be a complaint about Spanish hospitals – or the heartless way they feed their cardiac patients. There was certainly precious little else I could moan about as a patient at Elche. A cosy two-bed ward, caring nurses, highly efficient doctors, caring nurses and four days of intensive Spanish lessons for free.

Hospital stays: My granddaughter Daisy

Last but not least, my friends were not charged a single centimo to come and visit me. And from what I can gather from friends on expatforum.com the same free-parking policy operates at Spanish hospitals  from Malaga to Lorca and from Denia to Villajoyosa.

How different to the money-grabbing English system of fleecing  motorists at every opportunity. Airports are even worse than hospitals as car-park rip-off merchants but that’s another story.

My 11-year-old granddaughter Daisy suffers from Crohn’s Disease and has spent quite a bit of time at Manchester’s ultra-modern Royal Children’s Hospital this past couple of years. The kindly local NHS Trust have a voucher system that allows close relatives to visit sick children to use the vast multi-storey car park at a special daily rate of £5.

That’s £35 a week to spend time with your own kids when they need you most. How generous!

And don’t tell me the money all goes to improve the NHS. In a country where every working person pays an ever-increasing National Insurance contribution, surely NO-ONE should have to pay to visit a suffering relative.

Scotland and Wales abolished hospital parking charges a couple of years ago – so what’s so different about England? The authorities are just greedier to make bigger profits, that’s all.

As my daughter Hayley Beckman (Daisy’s mother) says: ‘‘The new hospital is very modern but it’s difficult to get to compared to the two children’s hospitals it replaced, and much more expensive to park.

‘‘It’s absolutely disgraceful that parents have to pay to spend time with their sick children in hospital.’’

It’s not as if Manchester Children’s University Hospital NHS Trust is in dire financial straits. Indeed, a Daily Mirror investigation established that in 2007, the Trust made a profit of £1,338,694. And 218 hospitals around the country made a staggering £24,993,855 the same year – just by charging their own staff to park their cars.

At the time, Juliet Dunmur, chair of the British Medical Association Patient Liaison Group, said: ‘‘The car-parking fees charged by some NHS trusts are unacceptable. It amounts to a tax on vulnerable patients and on NHS staff.’’

And hospital visiting is an increasingly-expensive experience. Recent research by the Action for Sick Children charity revealed that parking for families of children now costs £1.75 an hour on average.

It’s bad enough in Manchester, but at two London hospitals the parking tariff works out at an unbelievable £386.40 a week because there are no discounts for long-term stays.

At many hospitals, it’s not just visitors who get stung. Nurses working at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital must pay £20 for a weekly car-park pass – or leave their cars a mile or more away.

Still, there is a consolation. With all that enforced walking, they can afford to pour oodles of salt on their food and never worry about getting a dicky heart.