Dr John Hawkins
Welcome to my bit of the Maison de Stuff,
home to a huge load of pictures,
and my daily blog.
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- Recent Entries:
Friday in Hospital
Thursday in Hospital
Wednesday in Hospital
New Flat Again
Saturday with Robin and Robert
Out with Erika
Choosing my new Local
- [Saturday 13th December 2014]
Went to the new flat to do some measuring, and bought our first piece of furniture - an old school bench.
- [Friday 12th December 2014]
Negroni and tortilla chips.
- [Thursday 11th December 2014]
Carols out in the gardens.
- Bar Termini
- [Wednesday 10th December 2014]
Went out in the evening and tried a new bar in Soho.
- [Tuesday 9th December 2014]
Odd assortment of early evening pictures from Tuesday.
- [Monday 8th December 2014]
Nabe for dinner, with edamame to start.
- [Sunday 7th December 2014]
Took Erika to the playground in the afternoon, then a Sunday roast in the evening.
- [Saturday 6th December 2014]
I actually managed to sleep a bit last night (although the little girl in the next bed, poor thing, was having a bit of a rough time of it and did keep us awake for a while at various points during the evening). More importantly, Erika had slept really well too. In the middle of the night at one point when she'd been woken up by the girl in the next bed, she looked at me and smiled, then went back to sleep. It was as though she knew she was better too, and that we'd be going home. It was really lovely.
It did of course take quite a while to actually get out of the place - first we had a long wait for the doctors to do their rounds, then there was a brief hiccup in that Erika had quite a high pulse when they did the final observations, and then there was the usual long wait for her prescription to arrive... but eventually we made it out by about 2pm, by which time Mum had also come and met us at the hospital. So the four of us got in a taxi and headed back to Pimlico together.
When Mum had originally planned this trip to London we'd assumed we'd be taking her to see the new flat, but given the events of this week we instead just had a quiet afternoon in with her in Pimlico, with tea and macarons to begin with, then a glass of Champagne a bit later on. Mum then gave us a hand giving Erika her bath, before heading off at 5:15 to go and catch her train.
Having dined almost solely on takeaways this week I was actually quite looking forward to cooking, although it proved to be a bit of a challenge as Chie fell asleep, and Erika did her useful trick of demanding to be cuddled the whole time while I was trying to cook. Thus it ended up being a rather basic meal - just some pasta with broccoli in a cheese sauce - but it was nice to have some home cooking nonetheless.
- Friday in Hospital
- [Friday 5th December 2014]
I got a taxi back to the hospital first thing in the hope I'd be met with news that Erika had had a great night's sleep and would be getting discharged tonight. Alas that was not to be, and her oxygen saturation had once again been dropping below where they wanted it to be in her sleep. When we saw a doctor today she did seem to be close to letting us go home, and I was doing my best to persuade her, but Chie was not exactly on message and ultimately she decided we'd have to remain incarcerated for another night.
Chie went home to sleep towards the end of the morning and I spent a lot of time with Erika in the playroom, she seemed to be particularly into painting today. We'd gained some neighbours the previous evening - a little Swedish girl who was the same age as Erika and had a similar condition - so they spent a bit of time getting to know each other today, which was nice.
For dinner both Chie and I had decided we fancied curry, and I was surprised to discover that actually there wasn't an Indian restaurant anywhere to be seen on the stretch of Fulham Road round the hospital. Apparently people in Chelsea don't really go in for that sort of thing. So I walked North a bit to what I suppose would be the borders of Kensington, and got some take away from Noor Jahan there, I think part of the same chain as the one Gav likes in Bayswater.
It occurred to me on the way back to the hospital that being an patient here actually meant we'd effectively become Chelsea residents for the week. For free.
Chie seemed quite tired and not in the best of moods in the evening, so I volunteered to resume my role of staying in hospital overnight again tonight, so Chie could go home and get a decent night's sleep.
I think I'd started to become a bit philosophical about the whole thing by this stage, and was just prepared to accept that if the sodding oximeter was going to spend the night beeping, and we'd have to stay yet another night, then so be it.
As it happens though, this was not the case. Erika had obviously turned a corner today - I guess the antibiotics she'd started on Wednesday had really started to kick in properly - and her oxygen saturation level remained at 94 or 95 throughout the night. That infernal machine didn't beep once.
- Thursday in Hospital
- [Thursday 4th December 2014]
Again Chie arrived at the hospital first thing to relieve me from the night shift. This time I already knew we wouldn't be going home today, even before we'd seen the doctor. Again I headed home for a bit in the morning, had a shower, and a sleep (this time for a whole two hours I think) before heading back to the hospital again.
The rest of the daytime passed in a bit of a blur, and by this point it was getting difficult distinguishing one day from the next. The one slight deviation from the normal routine was that we gave Erika a bath - she hadn't had one since Sunday night so it was a bit overdue. She seemed to quite enjoy this surprisingly.
I went and got pizza for dinner from Rossopomodoro this evening - a chainI 'm quite fond of which I was pleased to see has a branch across the road rom the hospital.
After Erika went to sleep, on the assumption that I'd be staying overnight again, Chie gave me a bit of time off to go out and have a drink. I had a pint at a pub called the Hollywood Arms, which I think had featured on Made in Chelsea, followed by a Negroni at a bar called Bacchus Lounge, which appeared to be attempting to bring the recent Italian "aperitivo" concept to London, although despite some talk of it the accompanying nibbles for my drink never actually arrived. I didn't particularly mind since I'd already had dinner.
Somehow despite that we ended up deciding that Chie would actually stay overnight tonight instead, so I went home for a much appreciated proper night's sleep.
- Wednesday in Hospital
- [Wednesday 3rd December 2014]
As I said yesterday, time in hospital seems to be a bit of a blur in hindsight - partly because the concept of time seems to go out the window - we really had no idea how long we were going to have to stay for. Add to that all the time spent waiting around for a doctor or a nurse to come and see us, plus the loss of sleep, and the fact we couldn't see the outside world from our room (the window looked inwards to the hospital's atrium).
Chie came back first thing to relieve me of my post, and I headed home for a shower and then an hour's sleep. Whilst I was at home the doctor came to visit and told Chie Erika would need to stay at least another night - the key issue was her oxygen saturation level which dropped too low overnight - beneath the magic figure of 92%, thus requiring them to administer some oxygen. Until her breathing had improved such that that was no longer necessary, they weren't going to discharge her. So began a very frustrating pattern of constantly thinking and hoping we'd be able to go home tomorrow, only to be disappointed overnight / the next morning.
I got back to the hospital for lunchtime, having gone to Sainsbury's to buy a big bag full of Erika's favourite snacks in case she got hungry. This turned out to be quite a good idea as the tuna pasta served for lunch was by all accounts quite horrible (the rest of the meals she had after that weren't actually that bad albeit consistently lacking in the presentation department, and to be honest I'm not sure were all that nutritionally balanced - I didn't see a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables or anything green for that matter).
While Erika was having her afternoon nap I popped to my office for a bit, as I hadn't really had a chance to let anyone know we'd had to go to hospital yesterday, and I think it had looked a bit like I'd just vanished. So I sent a couple of emails and set up my out of office auto reply. I was just starting to relax, and despite the fact I'd only had an hour or two's sleep, was actually contemplating trying to get a little bit of work done, when the phone rang and all I could hear at the other end were loud cries from Erika, who had apparently just woken up and was very upset that I wasn't around. So I literally dropped what I was doing and got a taxi straight back to the hospital.
As a result of that episode, we decided Chie should go out and get dinner this evening, so went to Feng Sushi which was also conveniently across the road from the hospital. Erika's hospital dinner had been served at something like 5:30, which is a bit too early for her, and she didn't really have much of it. So it was good that she had a second chance to eat with us later on.
We asked Erika several times during the day who she'd like to stay with her overnight tonight, and she very consistently said me. As much as I craved a proper night's sleep at home I of course went along with this, as it was important we did everything we possibly could to try her feel as comfortable as possible.
I of course hoped, completely naively as it turned out, that she'd have made a marked improvement already and her oxygen saturation level would be magically back to normal overnight, but of course that was not to be. So instead it was something of a repeat performance of the previous night - being kept awake pretty much constantly by the alarm from oximeter, and soul crushingly having to concede defeat and get the nurse to come and turn the oxygen supply on.
- [Tuesday 2nd December 2014]
We took Erika to the walk-in clinic at the doctor this morning. I think we'd expected we'd just be there 5 minutes, they'd either say it was a chest infection and prescribe yet another course of antibiotics, or tell us it was just some bug or other and would clear up by itself.
So we were both a bit surprised when, after listening to her chest, the doctor said we should probably take her to A&E for a chest X-ray. Again, I think we then just thought we'd probably be sitting around an hour or two, and would then be sent home, so we just got in a taxi to the Chelsea and Westminster and didn't even go back to the flat first to pick up nappies or anything like that.
I think we were probably in A&E for about four hours in the end whilst we saw various people and waited for assorted tests to be done. After seeing a couple of nurses and a student doctor, we eventually saw the characterful "Dr Ed" who listened to Erika's chest and diagnosed it as a case of "viral wheeze", which apparently was very prevalent at the moment. He proposed she try an inhaler and then wait around a while to see how she responded. On his second examination he decided we should be admitted to one of the wards at the hospital and stay overnight.
It's a little bit of a blur from then on. We went up to the ward and Erika was given a bed in a room with just two beds in, which at least for tonight we had to ourselves. They attached a probe to monitor Erika's pulse and blood oxygen levels, and that infernal little machine with its seemingly endless alarms was something I quickly grew to loathe.
For some reason Erika had become particularly clingy to me today - she's normally much more of a "Mamako" (as they say in Japan - I suppose we'd say "Mummy's girl" in English). I think it might have just been down to the fact that I happened to have carried her in, and I think as it was all quite alien and disorienting, and quite possibly a bit scary for her, plus of course she was feeling pretty rotten, so she really didn't want to be let go of even for a minute.
At some point I think Chie must have popped back home to pick up nappies, clothes etc - as noted earlier we'd just left the flat to go to the doctor this morning, expecting to just be there for 10 minutes and come back again.
Some time after Chie got back I went out to get some dinner for us, from Carluccio's across the road - reminiscent of when Erika was born. I think Erika might have been asleep when I left - I forget now - but apparently became quite distraught at my absence while I was away so I rushed back as quickly as I could.
Later on in the evening, at what felt like the middle of the night, another doctor came to examine Erika and decided she should after all go for that X-ray which the GP had originally suggested, but had somehow been forgotten about, or just deemed unnecessary when we were in A&E. So we had a trek down to a mostly deserted radiology department to go and get an X-ray. Erika really didn't like this bit at all, having decided by this time she wanted me to hold onto her non-stop. So I put on one of those protective aprons and stayed with her for he X-ray whilst everyone else went behind the big screen. She still wasn't very happy, it was all a bit weird and scary for her and it's not easy to explain what an X-ray is to a distressed 2 year old.
The pediatric ward has a rule that only one parent can stay overnight, and it had become clear that was going to be me, so eventually, I think just before midnight in the end, Chie went home. Erika was sleeping on and off by this stage, but was constantly waking up, and seemed quite distressed every time she did. Plus they'd given her an oxygen supply, the mask wasn't fixed on (it seemed fairly clear she wouldn't accept that) so instead we'd just laid it near her head while she slept - but that meant every time she moved, her oxygen saturation level would drop, the alarm would go off, and I'd need to move the mask. So for a while I was just sat leant over the side of her bed, until the nurse persuaded me to actually set up the camp bed for me. I tried lying down in that, but barely managed more than a few minutes before either Erika would wake up and need some reassurance, or the bloody alarm would go off. Then once Erika saw I had a bed too she wanted to sleep next to me in that. I suppose that made life slightly easier for me as it least I could be lying down while I was doing "ton ton" (patting her back reassuringly) or moving the oxygen mask about. I really don't think I could have slept more than about an hour throughout the night, and particularly having come at the end of an already quite stressful day made it overall really pretty grueling.
- Erika Ill
- [Monday 1st December 2014]
Erika had a bad night the night before, with a fever which hadn't really improved siginficantly despite the usual application of Calpol and Nurofen, and clearly wasn't well enough to go t nursery. I was conducting an interview in the morning, and Chie had a seminar to go to in the afternoon, so we decided to each stay at home for half a day accordingly to fit around those constraints.
We didn't really give it that much thought at the time to be honest - Erika having colds and fevers and being off nursery was a fairly routine occurrence, and other than the fact her fever hadn't come down significantly with medicine, it wasn't really that much different to normal. Although she did seem quite clingy and didn't really want to play or do anything, which was a bit worrying. That coupled with the fact she was quite bad overnight tonight as well made us decide we should take her to see the doctor first thing the next day.
- New Flat Again
- [Sunday 30th November 2014]
After breakfast, Robin and Robert came to pick us up, and we once more drove across London to the new flat to have another look, this time to get Robert's opinions on the place.
Whilst Robin does have a major scheme for a re-design of the layout which would turn it into a "proper" 2 bed flat (at the moment one of the bedrooms and the bathroom is accessed via the other bedroom), which we discussed at length we also determined it would be a lot of work, and would be very unlikely to be finished before our lease on the current place ends in February, which is the current latest date by which we'd want to be moved in.
So instead I think we're settling on a more modest plan of works which should be achievable by then. Chie's suggestion is that we actually make the tiny back bedroom ours, and give Erika the larger bedroom, which she could also then have most of her toys in - so that way if we did ever have overnight guests staying in the lounge, they could get to the bathroom without having to walk through our bedroom, which would obviously have been a bit odd (assuming Erika doesn't object to people tiptoeing through her bedroom while she's asleep). So then the only work we'd probably have done is to partially fill in the patio door in the small bedroom to make it a bit warmer (does a flat the size of ours really need three sets of patio doors?), remove a partition wall between the hallway and the lounge to make a bit more space, replace or at least seriously fix the other two sets of patio doors which are a pain to open and close, and also at Robert's suggestion get a completely new bathroom.
I felt pleased that we finally had settled on a plan of action of sorts.
Robin and Robert didn't stick around for lunch, having had a big breakfast at the Goring, and being keen to make an early start on their return journey to South Wales. So we waved them off after our planning meeting at the flat, and Chie, Erika and I went for a quick and embarrassingly cheap late lunch at a little Italian place near Tufnell Park, before getting the tube back to Pimlico.
Erika and Chie then went swimming for some of the remainder of the afternoon, which in hindsight may not have been a great idea given what was about to befall us, but at the time she had seemed absolutely fine.
In the evening Erika did start to seem a little under the weather, and overnight developed quite a high fever, which turned out to be a portent of a rather dramatic week to come.
- Saturday with Robin and Robert
- [Saturday 29th November 2014]
Robert had an exacting shopping schedule for the daytime today, and Chie had decided to tag along with him for a few hours at the start. Meanwhile Robin and I, with Erika in tow, planned to go to see the new flat, by way of Peter Jones so we could buy a new microwave, and take advantage of Robin having his car with him to transport it there.
Getting across London from Sloane Square to Kentish Town took ages - over an hour in the end. Although on the plus side we did have a nice "scenic" run through many of the posher parts of London, and Erika quite happily had a nap in her car seat in the back. Unfortunately this meant Erika was then awake when we got to the new flat so it was a bit of a challenge to have a chat with Robin about his suggestions for the place whilst Erika, bless her, was busily competing for our attention.
After that we went for a late-ish lunch at a cafe, where Chie joined us (it had taken her considerably less time to get across London by tube), and we then went back to the flat for a further inspection.
Robin had bought us some mugs in Peter Jones, and also donated a spare kettle he'd had at home, so we rather satisfyingly walked around with a mug of tea in hand.
Just after 4 we decided we should probably head back, mindful it would probably take a fair while to get across London again, so Robin could check into their hotel for this evening and have a chance to relax for a bit there before dinner. To ensure their trip to London was a bit of a treat I'd arranged for them to stay at the Goring, particularly as they'd largely come at my request, having felt in dire need of help for figuring out what to do with our new flat.
The five of us had dinner together at Noura, conveniently just round the corner from the Goring, where we did our best to try and make sure Erika was well behaved, but ultimately she didn't want to stay sitting at the table and instead preferred to wander round outside.
It initially went home with the girls after dinner, but then headed back again to the Goring after that for a drink with Robin and Robert in the bar there which made for a very pleasant finish to the day.
- White Truffle
- [Friday 28th November 2014]
Bought a white truffle in the daytime for tonight's dinner with Robin and Robert who were coming to visit for the weekend, which also then necessitated a longer than hoped for traipse around the streets of Belgravia trying to find a truffle shaver - if you can't expect to find one here, then where can you?
Robin and Robert eventually arrived around 8pm and we then proceeded to have a 5 course Italian gourmet feast, starting with mozzarella and tomato salad, then ribollita, porcini risotto, taglioni with the shaved white truffle, and then a chocolate tart for dessert. I think it all came out rather well.
- Out with Erika
- [Thursday 27th November 2014]
Chie was out with friends in the evening, so I picked Erika up from nursery after work. I didn't really feel like going home and cooking, so instead we got in a taxi (Erika always seems to enjoy this) and went to Tibits. It wasn't hugely successful, I didn't manage to get Erika to eat a huge amount despite picking lots of things from the buffet I thought she'd like. Oh well.
Afterwards I took her to try and find some ice cream somewhere. Unfortunately our usual place when in the centre (Gelupo) was closed due to "a hygiene emergency" so we had to search for a replacement - instead we went to "Snog", the frozen yoghurt place on Brewer Street, where the wonderfully camp staff were very sweet to her. Headed home after that.
- Hair Cut
- [Wednesday 26th November 2014]
I went and got my hair cut in the daytime today, I thought I'd try a new place called Ruffians - as much as I enjoy going to my regular barber (Philip at Briggs) there's never an opportunity to discuss doing anything different with my hair, he just gets on and cuts it. So I thought as a one off going to somewhere a bit more modern and stylisty to set it on the right track might be a good idea.
Other than that not much to report.
- Choosing my new Local
- [Tuesday 25th November 2014]
I'd booked a night off from parenting duties this evening, originally thinking I might go to Marlow, as Andy had given me a key to give to one of his friends there when I was in Japan. As it turned out though the weather looked pretty awful, which would take away any potential fun of a brief evening jaunt out into the country.
So instead I decided to pop to the new flat to try and read the electricity and gas meters again, as last time I'd tried this Erika was there, and became a bit upset about me going down into the cellar. I also thought on a bit of a whim I'd get some takeaway and eat it in the flat - technically my first meal there. Friends at work had talked about how great it feels to use the toilet for the first time in a property you own - to be honest that hadn't really struck much of a chord with me though.
Since I was in this neck of the woods, I thought I'd re-familiarise myself with the local pubs. I'd been to the Kentish Town area a few times before on pub crawls - which first set the seed in my mind that there were a few really nice residential streets and it might not actually be a bad place to live. I started with the Pineapple, which I think seemed like the strongest candidate for being my new local, and was the place I'd been to the most times in this part of town. It was interesting to go in there in the evening - it's on a very quiet residential street, and being a Tuesday evening on entering I expected it to be mostly empty, but it was actually fairly full and bustling.
From there I ventured on to the Southampton Arms, which surprisingly I hadn't been to before, considering what a great pub it is - a proper old fashioned pub, which just happens to also have a really large selection of real ales (and probably a few "craft beers", which I chose to ignore) and also ciders - I counted somewhere in the region of 6 ciders on tap, which is pretty impressive. The competition for the title of my official local is going to be tough.
Finally I rounded off with the Assembly House, which I'd always found to be quite pleasant when we'd been there on pub crawls, in the day time - it has quite a nice interior and was always fairly quiet. It seems to be quite a different pub in the evening though, apparently a favourite of the local student population, and as a result I can't imagine I'll end up going here that often.
- [Monday 24th November 2014]
Made tapas for dinner - had bought a Spanish omelette in Waitrose at the weekend (I hate to admit it but this one is better than the one I make myself) which we had with padron peppers, garbanzos con espinacas (chickpeas with spinach) and a sort of vague interpretation of patatas bravas - fried potatoes with some mayo flavoured with smoked paprika to dip in.