On Saturday 18th May ’13 Leah was admitted to the Sperrin Haematology/Oncology Adult Ward of our local hospital. She had Febrile Neutropenia and was immediately started on intravenous antibiotics – this condition can be fatal if not treated quickly.
By Sunday morning Leah was feeling much better and was sure that she would be able to sit her two GCSE modules the following day Monday 20th May. However when the consultant came round he said that she would not be allowed out of the hospital to sit her exams. When I queried him on this he replied “Mrs Whyte, this is a life threatening situation, have you not googled it?” I didn’t answer him – I didn’t need google to tell me that my child’s life was in danger. He spoke to the nurse and she reappeared a little while later with a computer printout regarding “febrile neutropenia” – otherwise known as “neutropenic sepsis” and how it could very quickly become fatal it not correctly handled.
I asked Leah what she wanted to do about her exams and she said that she wanted to sit them, so I said “that’s fine, it’s going to happen“. Inwardly I prayed for strength and wisdom. It was a Sunday morning and I didn’t have contact details for any of the staff in Limavady High School. I was also confined to the hospital with Leah as she didn’t like being left on her own and I didn’t like leaving her.
It’s a long story and various good people helped along the way, but eventually around 6pm Sunday evening I got speaking to Mr M, Leah’s Head of Year, a man who was a tower of strength and compassion throughout Leah’s illness journey. He promised to ring the exam board first thing Monday morning. I then informed the ward staff what we were hoping to arrange.
Monday morning the wonderful Mr M phoned to say that he had authorisation from the exam board for Leah to sit her two exams in the hospital that day. An invigilator was on his way from Limavady High School to the hospital in Derry/Londonderry with the exam papers – English Literature and Chemistry. I went to the nurses station to update them. They informed me that Leah wouldn’t be allowed to sit these exams without authorisation from her consultant and he was busy in clinic. There was considerable stress until the consultant could be contacted and brought to the ward to give his permission. Thankfully everything got sorted out.
Leah sat her exams in the ward sister’s office. It was the first time that a patient had ever sat GCSE modules on this ward. In August ’13 when Leah was in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit in Bristol, Mr M phoned us to say that Leah had got an ‘A’ in both of these exams. I immediately phoned the Sperrin Ward to let them know and to thank them for all of their help – Leah was always very well cared for on this ward.
This photo was taken in hospital at 9.30am on Monday 20th May 2013 while Leah was doing some last minute revision for her exams.