When Jodie Swarbrick’s daughter was severely ill in hospital, she daren’t leave her side.
She didn’t have time to pack any essential items like toiletries and snacks, as she dedicated her time to two-year-old Freya.
Now a year on from Freya’s dramatic illness, Jodie shares her experiences as she fund-raises for bags filled with useful items for families during a hospital stay.
The 24-year-old from Savick says: “This time last year Freya was really poorly with a high temperature and swollen tummy.
“I took her to Royal Preston Hospital (RPH) and doctors said she had a vital infection and to ‘let her fight it off herself.’ Thinking doctors knew best I took her home and did as they said.
“I then had to take her back a few days later as she had deteriorated and x-rays revealed her lungs were infected. Doctors said they needed to put her to sleep to put in a chest drain and that she needed to go to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital (RMCH).
“Watching her get put to sleep was heartbreaking.
“She was filled with lots of wires and oxygen mask. She looked so tiny and to be told I wouldn’t see her awake for days literally broke my heart into a million pieces.
“An ambulance took her to Manchester, where she was taken straight to intensive care. She was put on breathing support and had her first chest drain fitted. An hour later I was finally allowed in. I never left her side and was awake next to her bed holding her hand and begging her to not leave me.
“So many tests were done on her and each night i would sit by her bed reading her stories.
“The next day, doctors told me Freya had pneumonia and sepsis - both extremely dangerous and life threatening. Her lungs were badly filled with infection which had then spread throughout her tiny body and caused her to contract sepsis.
“I asked what would have happened if I had left her to ‘fight it herself’ as advised and the respiratory consultant told me she wouldn’t be here now.
“A day later I would have lost my daughter because she would have suffocated in her sleep.
“If she had been left any later, she would have died within 24 hours. Doctors got to her in time.
“She stayed in a coma for three to four days and then was sent to intensive care for a blood transfusion and more chest drains.
“Whilst the majority of the fluid had been drained, there was a pocket of air in the lining where the fluid had been which caused her lung to collapse and make it harder to breathe. CT scans and x-rays then showed that the infection had caused her lung to have a hole in. The scan also showed she had a blood clot in an artery in her chest where central line and the battle to get the right strength of medication began.
“She also developed herpes in her mouth and lost weight as she was unable to eat. She had to learn how to walk again as she had lost all her strength.
“How much does one little girl need to go through?
“She had been in hospital for about four weeks and after her second chest drain, each day she got stronger, so we returned home. But a week later she had to go back to RPH.
“As she was not getting rid of the infection, we had to go back to RMCH to get stronger antibiotics. A year later Freya, who is now three, is still on antibiotics. She is still under the care of Manchester Children’s Hospital, which has a great specialist care team.
“Nothing in the world can prepare you for the day your child becomes critically ill. It was very hard as I had to be away from my younger daughter Ebony, now two.
“My daughter was 24 hours away from dying - Ebony nearly lost her older sister and best friend. I stood by my daughter’s bedside whilst she was hooked up to machines and medication, with tubes coming out at her from all angles.
“I kept people updated on Facebook as I didn’t want to keep ringing people. I stayed by her side for the initial days when she was in a coma. I shut off from everybody. I learnt how to turn my feelings off and allow myself to keep going.”
Jodie, who is studying children, young people and their services at Preston’s College, says she felt isolated whilst in hospital but aims to provide comfort to others by giving Love Freya x bags of useful items and a support booklet.
She adds: “For the first couple of days I didn’t want to leave Freya. So I want to help ease the pressure for families. The bags, worth around £15, will contain basic things like cuppa soups, snacks, water, toiletries and a note pad to write down what the doctor says. I have also compiled a support booklet with details of Freya’s story and also some other friends who have had similar experiences so they don’t feel they are on their own.
“I felt nobody understood as nobody loved my daughter as much as I did. I had a friend whose son has heart problems so I knew she understood, but not everyone has someone like that. I want to reassure people.”
To raise money for the bags, Jodie, supported by local community radio station 103.2FM City Beat, is organising a fashion show at Wilbraham Club, in Geoffrey Street, Preston, on Saturday June 24, from 1pm until 4pm.
There will also be raffles, a pamper station, cake stalls, entertainment and a visit from Humphrey Bear.
Tickets are £3 for adults, £1.50 for children under 16s and a family ticket is £6. Pay on the door or get tickets by contact Jodie on Facebook - Love Freya x.
Josie adds: “I have had a lot of support from people. If they can help other families then that is all I can wish for. So far I have enough goods for 40 bags but I am hoping to raise as much money as I can. The care bags will go to families at RMCH as they saved Freya’s life. The nurses and staff there were amazing.
“As I get more funds, I aim to distribute them further to Royal Preston Hospital.”
To support Jodie and Freyda visit http://www.gofundme.com/freyaswarbrick