Sinéad Switzer from Dun Laoghaire recalls the panic she felt when her son was born needing urgent medical treatment in CHI (Children’s Health Ireland) at Crumlin.
“When my little boy was born, I knew something was wrong,” Sinéad said. “Matthew was born without a back passage and he was transferred to Crumlin the next day. When he was just three days old, he was operated on to give him a colostomy bag. I was so overwhelmed and afraid but all the staff on the Nazareth ward were incredible. They taught me so much about motherhood in those first few scary days. The nurses were so caring and kind. I gave Matthew his first bath in the sink in our room. The nurses moved furniture around so I could hold my baby easier with all his wires. The stoma nurses came and patiently taught me how to change his colostomy bag.”
When Sinéad got to take Matthew home for the first time she was reassured that she could ring the ward or the stoma team and get advice when his colostomy bag came off or his stoma bled.
The kindness of the entire Crumlin community kept Sinéad and her family going – “When Matthew was seven months old, we returned to hospital for his big surgery to make his bottom. Professor Alan Mortell and his team were amazing and reassured us so much. I remember when I brought Matthew to theatre, the nurses played Peppa Pig for him. They comforted me when I cried as he was put under anesthetic. I remember small things like the nurses putting their arms around my shoulders and telling me he was going to be OK.”
Matthew was slow to recover from the anesthetic so he was brought to intensive care. While it was Sinéad’s worst nightmare to see her little boy seriously ill, Matthew recovered and went on to have his colostomy reversal at 13 months old.
At 19 months old Matthew became very unwell as his bowel had become blocked. The staff in Crumlin explained the situation to Sinéad and took time to talk her through their plan to make Matthew well again.
Last summer Matthew had trouble with his bowel resulting in him being in nappies again, Sinéad explained – “I rang Stephanie, the stoma nurse, in tears and she was amazing. She told me not to worry as we could do bowel washouts. Two weeks later we were taught by her lovely colleague, Mary, how to clear Matthew’s bowel at home. Thanks to them, he has started school without a nappy and for the first time in years he doesn’t go to the toilet every hour. I cannot express how grateful I am. He has appointments in Crumlin every six months. Thanks to everyone at the hospital I have a healthy, energetic five-year-old. He does ballet once a week and is such a happy little boy. He has a great life and certainly lives it to the full!