Mo - Wednesday
From his earliest memory, he had always felt the need to fix things. Before the complex world of empathy had entered his young life, he had been happy fixing tangible items, but as time and maturity ticked along, he came to fixing people and situations. He could clearly remember gathering his sister off the concrete playground and dabbing at her knees until a teacher could take over, him never leaving her or returning to the game he’d previously been playing while her face had any sign of dampness or her lips were anything but smiling. His mother used to say he was a child born with a purpose, as it happened Mo agreed and that purpose was nursing. Each shift as he got on the tube and headed off to Holborn and the world famous Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, his heart warmed with pride. He was pretty sure his father, rest in peace, would have preferred him to be a doctor, but Mo knew he wasn’t clever enough to be a world famous physician, instead setting his sights on nursing and the complex speciality of paediatrics. His mother cried fat tears of joy when he finally qualified.
“A doctor to save babies, my son.”
“I’m not a doctor Mum, I’m a nurse.”
“Do you not save babies my son?”
“Not on my own.”
“Yes, but you save babies?”
“I guess, as part of a team.”
She clapped her hands together, “we shall have a big party to celebrate that my son is a doctor that saves babies.”
There was no telling her, even to this day, some nine years later, she still insisted that her son, the doctor, could save babies.
The ward always smelled of hot oats, porridgy, and he had no idea why. He loves the smell of Woodland Ward, perhaps it was the abundance of love oozing from parents and visitors over the brave and often triumphant children that created the unique aroma, he liked to think it was the smell of unconditional love.
“Good morning,” Mo said over and over on his way along the corridor, passing the high dependency beds first, on to the smaller bays containing four children and today, four mothers. At the very end of the corridor was the parent’s area with a small kitchen and a fridge containing labelled food. Strictly speaking sorting out the fridge was not part of Mo’s job, but every morning he had a quick look, throwing out old food or opened items left by parents lucky enough to have gone home. He usually bought a four pint bottle of milk from the foyer shop to leave out for people to use. He knows from experience that a lack of milk can frequently lead to a breakdown, whether it be someone else had used milk that wasn’t theirs, or if theirs had gone off, or they’d just arrived, a nice cuppa often times saved the day for a parent under extreme duress.
Fridge duty completed, Mo ducked his head in on the TV room, Lorraine Kelly smiled at him from the bracketed telly on the wall.
“Good morning Lorraine,” said Mo.
“Morning,” came a small shaky voice from the far corner.
Mo hadn’t noticed her sitting in perfect stillness. He recognised her as the mother of a small girl who had palette surgery the day before. He approached her, “may I?” he said looking at the space next to her on the beige PVC couch. She shrugged. “Have you slept?” she shook her head.
“Shall I make us a nice cup of tea? I’ll even crack into my secret stash of biccies. I bet you haven’t eaten a thing have you? You do realise that when she’s feeling better, in a day or two, you will have made yourself ill and will only be any good to dry up on.”
“I could afford to lose a pound or two,” replied the mother.
“Nonsense, let me get those biccies, they’re chocolate you know,” he winked at her as he left to go to the nurses station to retrieve them.
“She looks like she’s been hit with a baseball bat,” sobbed the mother.
“I never thought she’d look so bad, it never occurred to me that her whole face would get bruised and swollen. I never realised,” she broke down fully. “Sorry Mo,” she finally managed, “I know there are plenty of people worse off than us, but I can’t help it. She was sick in the night so many times, it hurt her I could tell.”
“If you know she’s in pain let me know and I’ll get the docs to write up for more meds.”
She wept more, “if I could swap with her I would.”
“In a heartbeat,” said Mo, “I know you would. Now then, drink that tea and see if you can manage another Hobnob before she wakes up.”
Mo’s pager beeped on his belt and he silenced it, “go if you’re needed Mo, I’ll be alright now, just needed a good cry.”
“And there’s nothing wrong with that. Trust me, she’ll be as good as new in no time. Children are incredible, they go down fast, but they bounce back faster.”
She managed a small smile.
The destination the pager summoned him to was the nurses’ room behind the main desk. Inside he was greeted by two Staff Nurses who were looking to him to take the lead.
“We’ve got a new arrival coming up from theatre in about two hours. Bay four is ready to go home, so if you can chase the docs to come and sign him off we can send them home, clean up and prep for our new one. Do we know what we are getting? asked Mo.
“It’s one of Mr Richards, so I guess it’s going to be a tummy. No details yet,” replied the young South African nurse called Liz.
“Fine and would you mind updating the whiteboard and putting a call in to the cleaning team?” he asked the other nurse.
“All sorted then,” smiled Mo as he headed off to Bay four to update the current residents of their homeward bound status being definite.
Nearing Bay four, Mo heard a small child crying behind the blue paper curtain that guards each bed’s privacy.
“Knock, knock” he called popping his head through the gap after a second or two. “Oh what’s wrong my man?”
Mo didn’t need to check his chart as the doctors did, Mo knew he was looking at Callum and that Callum was four.
“Is it sore?” asked Mo pointing to the new appendix scar on Callum’s white tummy. Callum nodded.
“Mummy in the shower?”
Callum shook his head.
“Getting a brew?”
Again, Callum shook his head.
“In the café?”
“I know. Has Mummy dressed up as a doctor and is making her rounds?”
Callum smiled but shook his head again.
“Has Mummy run out of the hospital and got in a black taxi to go and have breakfast with Her Majesty the Queen.”
Callum laughed and nodded.
“Right that’s it, I’m calling the palace to see where my invite is. The last time I was with the Queen she said I could come round whenever I like, and I like now.”
Callum was wide eyed.
“She said that I could walk the Corgis and bounce on all the royal beds, five hundred of them in total. She said that once I had finished with the bouncing I could slide down the banisters and that it would take half a day as it’s so long.
Callum laughed, “can I come with you?”
“Of course you can Callum, I told you, you are my main man,” Mo cupped his mouth and whispered, “but, the Queen said you had to get better first and that crying would make her too sad.”
“I won’t cry anymore,” whispered Callum.
“Oh hi Mo,” said Callum’s mum brightly, “you’re awake my darling,” she leant over Callum and gently kissed his forehead several times in a rapid fire of love. “Was he ok while I was away?” she held up some crayons and paper, “I went to the play room.”
Callum beamed at his mum and Mo backed out of the cubicle, giving Callum a wink on his way out.
“Great news folks, my best patient of the day is allowed home for definite.”
“That’s me,” lisped a boy without any front teeth.
“Indeed it is you, my esteemed colleague. It’s time for you to head home back to, erm, where was it, Kathmandu, no no it wasn’t there, erm Madagascar, no no, it was Reykjavik, no I’ve got it, this time I know I have it..”
The boy was smiling, both his parents were smiling as they watched their boy flush with wellness.
“You are going back to Somerset.”
The child clapped his painfully slim arms.
“Now, you leave the big smoke behind you and don’t you be coming back, and if you really must ride a scooter at the speed of light what are you going to do?”
“Wear a helmet.”
“Give this child a gold star someone,” Mo ferreted in the pocket of his navy tunic “and that someone is me,” he produced a gold star sticker and stuck it to the child’s pyjama top.
“Thank you so very much,” said the mother.
The father took Mo’s hand in both of his and shook it with tears in his eyes, “thanks for everything Mo. It’s been the worst few weeks of our lives and we would have gone mad without you. You really have saved more than just our son.”
Mo beamed his crooked teeth, and knew deep within that the purpose he had as child was being fulfilled.
In the locker room Mo got changed into his jeans and carefully folded his tunic into his backpack. He placed his white croc sandals into the locker, glanced at the picture of Mohammad (may peace be upon him) that was in a gold frame attached to the inside of the door, before closing it and heading out into the chilly London air to catch the tube back home to his mother’s house in Stratford. His mother had made no secret that it was high time he chose himself a bride, especially as he was now the saviour of London’s babies.