Why I’m raising money for Nottingham Children’s Hospital

Young Jack sits in a eroded rock area

Posted on: 04 Jul 2022

Ruth Rowsell is raising money for Nottingham Hospitals Charity after her son, Jack, was treated at Nottingham Children’s Hospital for a serious infection.

In June 2022, Ruth took part in the Cotswolds Ultra 100k challenge, in aid of the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit where Jack was treated. In her blog, Ruth shares her story of…

In January 2020 our very healthy and bouncy 5 year old came home from school with a bit of a temperature. It seemed over the next day, nothing too much to worry about. That changed 48 hours later when Jack became very poorly, he was unable to move his head and was drooling, it was getting increasingly difficult to keep him awake but he was sobbing in pain.

We arrived at A and E and Jack was quickly seen by the ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) department, a scan revealed a large infection in his neck. Everything seemed to happen very quickly and soon an anaesthetist came to see us to tell us that Jack was going for an operation and then he would be going to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit. I was certain he was wrong, it was only a few hours since Jack was eating sausage and mash for tea.

Jack was taken to theatre and we were shown around the PICU (Paediatric Intensive Care Unit), we were given keys to a room where we could both stay so that we would never need to be far from Jack. When Jack came out of the operating theatre they had not been able to relieve the pressure in his neck and Jack had been put on a ventilator to help him breathe whilst his body fought off the infection.

Jack lies in the PICU. He is connected to a ventilator and has a blanket wrapped over him

Jack in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit

For 48 hours a machine took every breath for Jack and during that time two fantastic nurses cared for Jack’s every need. He now had so many tubes and there was a lot to understand but they kept everything simple for us to understand.

One thing I will always remember is that they took time to understand what he was usually like, his love of trains and the Lion King, how fast he could ride his bike. One afternoon I went to get a drink and came back to find him listening to the Lion King album! The doctors were always close by and checked on Jack all the time, they listened to our worries and I just always felt that they were one step ahead of Jack’s needs.

Jack fought back against the infection and came home to us, he is now a very healthy 7 year old, and he still rides his bike really fast!

Ruth Rowsell stands in front of the finisher banner at the Cotswold Way Challenge. She is wearing a medal

Ruth at the end of her fundraising challenge

About the fundraising challenge

I’m not a good runner but I do like to keep fit. I wanted to do a really big challenge to raise money for the PICU, the week Jack was ill was the hardest week of our lives, how hard could 100km be? I was so nervous in the week before the challenge I could hardly eat. I broke my ankle in 2020 and it was pinned back together at QMC, I’ve worked hard to get fit enough and strong for the challenge but I was genuinely worried about my ankle.

It turns out the Cotswolds is hilly, in the first 50km there was 2250m of climbing. Going up was ok but coming down was hard on the knees and very technical. I was so grateful to climb into my tent on Saturday night. However, wrapped up in my sleeping bag I really thought I couldn’t do it all again the next day, this was when I checked my JustGiving page and saw the donations that had come in whilst I was running. It gave me an enormous boost, as did a lovely video from Jack.

We set off just after 6 o’clock on Sunday morning for the last 47km, it was a beautiful morning and I was really upbeat about making it, until 85km when my knees started screaming and each kilometre seemed to get longer.

The last 4km are a blur, I could barely bend my knees, but the elation of seeing the finish line somehow helped me do a sprint finish. Nineteen hours of running and walking all the way to 100km, I’m so proud to have made it through and to do it for such an amazing place. I’m incredibly thankful to everyone who sponsored me and sent messages of support throughout the training and over the weekend.

To sponsor Ruth for her Cotswolds Ultra 100k challenge, please visit her JustGiving page here.

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