‘How Treetop House helped me keep my sanity’

Zoe Gill with son Thomas
Zoe Gill with son Thomas
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AT the age of seven months, Thomas Gill has spent more than a third of his young life at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

Mum Zoe and dad Philip, who live in Rotherham, took Thomas to the hospital in January. He had not been feeding well, had lost weight and had an arching back from crying in pain all the time.

Zoe said: “Thomas was diagnosed as having spasms and severe reflux disease which is when acid comes back up because his oesophagus wasn’t working properly, giving him severe pain. I needed to stay with my baby whilst doctors and consultants were carrying out various tests and scans to find the cause of his spasms.

“The nurses on the ward told us about the Treetop House family accommodation and put our name on the waiting list. We ended up staying in the house for six weeks at first and then a further few weeks in March when he had his operation.

“Reflux is quite common in babies, but Thomas is quite extreme because he has not responded well to the various medicines for reflux. The doctors did tests and tried various methods of feeding Thomas but his symptoms were like a rollercoaster, up and down.

“He began to worsen over time so we made the difficult decision for him to have an operation at seven months old that would stop his reflux, called a fendophilation, so again we managed to get a room in Treetop. The operation was successful and he is recovering slowly.

“Staying in the home made such a difference. It meant that I was close to Thomas at night and I was only a few minutes away from my son if the nurses needed me.

“It was such a relief to come back to a private room at night and get a good night sleep away from the noise of the ward.

“It was also extremely important that I would spend some quality time with my husband and three-year-old son James, who came to stay at the weekends.

“It definitely benefited James enabling him to spend more time with me in homely surroundings and not just at the ward visiting his baby brother. It was also nice that we were able to bring Thomas into Treetop House a few times and be together as a family for an hour or so.

“It has helped keep my sanity because it’s hard being on the ward all day, every day, week after week looking after a poorly baby. It all provides a bit of normality, breathing space and privacy away from the ward.

“I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge ‘thank you’ to all the nurses, doctors, consultants and surgeons who have looked after and treated Thomas so well, to the staff at Treetop House who have been really supportive and especially my husband and both parents who have helped look after James for three months.Our family has been incredibly supportive and I couldn’t have managed without them.”