“Nan, what’s your internet password”?

We were into Day 3 of home schooling yesterday, and were patting ourselves on the back as our Y7 student showed great promise in being able to structure her new daily routine around classes, online tutorials and solitary study. It all came to a crashing halt just after breakfast and a nasty accident heralded a day of drama, anxiety and many miles travelled.

Both my daughter and I were so proud of how Bella embraced her new schooling regime. She has shown to be an enthusiastic novice at this whole High School thing, and has blossomed since leaving primary school behind. That young silly, unsure girl from only 6 months ago, has changed before our eyes and we have welcomed a confident, focussed young woman enjoying the exciting new world of secondary education, at a leading Canberra College.

Enter the Corona Virus and the gradual changes to permissible activities, eventually leading to the school closing and students having to embark on unprecedented home schooling regimes. So no School band, no sleepover with Aunty Sarah each week, no sport, no weekly music lessons, no dance and sadly no more pony club rallies or competitions. How lucky we were that we made it to Sydney for the final performance of “Bennelong” by the Bangarra Dance Company…a memory that we will have to tap into in coming months.

As my daughter has to keep working – yes agriculture has taken on a new importance in the whole scheme of things – I put my hand up to help with home schooling Bella and will extend this to include Molly, when her little primary school closes. Living on the farm together, we have a “tag team” strategy working well and with expected online issues putting pressure on Kathleen being able to work from home, we set up a classroom at her home and another in my Cottage. A timetable was drawn up, lunches and snacks organised and even “uniforms” laid out each night with a few giggles and some zany interpretation of what actually constituted an acceptable uniform! No pyjamas in Nan’s classroom!

With living and working from home in the country, there are chores and management
responsibilities that need to be addressed on a daily basis. Early morning before the first conference call hits cyberspace, is often the best time to check things and do what needs to be done. Bella has loved joining in with her mother and being a great help…said it is better than getting hauled out of bed before 6 to drive 25kms to town to catch a bus, to go all the way to Canberra.

Ambulance RideYesterday, Molly went off to the school bus about 7.30 and Bella and her mother set off up to the Hill Paddock to shift a mob of sheep. All systems go, be at Nan’s easily by 9am.
Bella’s pony stumbled and fell on the steep hillside, and unbeknown to her mother, who was further ahead on the quad bike, she was quite badly injured and may even have lost consciousness when she hit the ground. Her helmet saved her from more serious damage but her face, neck and shoulder took most of the force of the impact. Her mother found her when the pony cantered past, sans bridle, sans rider, but only a few moments after the fall had actually happened.

Bella was transported home on the bike and I received the frantic call for help, just as I was about to sit down to breakfast. What ensued was a day of worry and fear, but also a day where we learnt so much about what happens under the new Covid protocols, while experiencing some of the most diligent, professional and caring responses, from all who came to our assistance.

Bella could hardly see, she was rambling, she couldn’t remember things, she went into shock, she complained of pain and she couldn’t fully open her mouth. There was a lot of blood. Ringing the hospital in advance and carefully placing her in the car, saved a valuable 30 minutes, but we were not prepared for the reception when we got into town. My daughter ran into the ED, who knew she was coming, but they wouldn’t come outside where the car was parked at the front door, with me holding a 12 year old, who just wanted to go to sleep and who was quite incoherent by this stage.

They sent my daughter back out with a wheelchair to collect a possible spinal trauma case, saying the rules precluded them from assessing patients outside the hospital and that we should have called an ambulance. My daughter was very distressed, and worried beyond all measure about moving Bella. There was an ambulance in the driveway, and the driver was finishing a long night shift and signing off, but he reacted immediately when a frantic mother, asked him for help.

Both paramedics came over and took control professionally and urgently. They checked Bella’s vitals, and of course, went into the hospital and came out with a Doctor and three nurses!! As quickly and as carefully as they could, Bella was transferred to the “off duty” ambulance, and started her journey to Canberra, with lights and the occasional siren…..

How do you thank someone for believing you, how do you acknowledge that times are difficult, but not every person going to ED is there for a non-urgent reason, how do you maintain a confident position with a child hanging onto reality by a fragile grasp, how do you tap into those long-shelved reserves of past motherhood to support another mother struggling with the fear and anxious love for her daughter, how do you as a grandmother fill two completely different roles when your own heart is pounding as you recognisethe seriousness of what was happening? How do you push away those poisonous memories of another life farewelled at the same place many years before?

Bella was put under the care of a fantastic trauma team in Canberra, tests and scans and x-rays throughout the day, gradually cleared most urgent concerns. But lying there in a neck brace for more than 24 hours, sees her very teary this morning as she waits for another MRI. As there is no paediatric neurologist in Canberra, all tests are being reviewed by a team in Sydney, but doctors and staff are hopeful that no serious damage has been done and her stay in hospital will not be a lengthy process.

We saw firsthand, from the inside, how frontline health workers are preparing for further Covid impacts on how our hospitals are going to cope, and it was very impressive. A respiratory case came in while we were there and the management and procedures surrounding the admission were seamless and efficient. Corridors cleared, special doors locked and astronaut-like figures ushered the patient through to an isolation area. PA announcements kept all staff aware and in position. The “astronaut” was escorted to a special area off-ward, once the patient was in the care of doctors and

Art for BellaI think we learnt a valuable lesson and it was very reassuring.

So this morning, Molly has sent drawings and best wishes to her sister, I have photographed her pony eating his hay and sent that through, I have taken my time over breakfast, and am about to have a second cup of tea as the day unfolds. I will wait for news, and I will say those “thank you” prayers, not forgetting the three wonderful friends who were my “virtual” support yesterday, at the end of some desperate text messages.

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