Mary Star is an ordinary mother who is convinced her son is not well but doesn’t understand what’s wrong with him and the doctors won’t listen to her. Will she do enough to save him?
“Mum?” Jack said, “Mum, come here mum.” Jack was in the kitchen looking at a dead mouse near the back door. After laying the mouse trap last night with his mum, the first thing he set out to do upon waking up was to come straight into the kitchen and check
“Hello Jack honey, is everyth… Oh”. Mary Star saw the dead mouse as she came into the kitchen to find her son. “Don’t touch it!” She told him.
“It’s tiny, isn’t it”, said Jack. This was the first time he’d ever seen a mouse and he was fascinated. He wanted to stroke it to see if it was still alive.
He wasn’t the only one either for if Jack had crouched down a little bit more and looked under the cupboard, he would have seen a much larger mouse, looking on intently at the scene, unable to do anything but stare and grieve.
“Can we bury him mum?” Jack asked. “Can we? Please?”
“No, I don’t want him attracting other vermin into the garden. I think its best I put him in a bag and straight into the bin.” She opened the cupboard door next to her under the sink and pulled out a plastic bag. “Step back Jack.” He did so but was still in the way. “Can you stand over there please?” Mary said pointing to the doorway.
Jack moved around his mum and towards the door. “Thank you honey.” Mary said, then, using an old tea towel, she bent down, picked up the mouse and put it into the bag. Sealing the bag quickly, she opened the back door and stepped outside. “Stay there Jack.” She said as she walked out to the bins and dropped the bag in.
On her return, Jack had left the room. She could hear the television so assumed he was ok watching children’s programs. She pulled the box of rat poison down from above the wall cupboard. The mouse under the cupboard watched intently as Mary carefully reset the mouse trap and put a couple of the pellets into it.
The next morning, Jack had a headache. Mary was always a bit anxious when her son was ill so she phoned the doctor’s. They told her not to worry and to give him some paracetamol.
He still had the headache the next day, but now had a cough and runny nose so she kept him home from school, calling the doctor’s again. This time they said it’s probably just a cold. If he rests up for a few days, he’ll be fine.
There was no change on the third day but, on the fourth he was sick. Straight away she called the doctors in a panic and this time, they made her an appointment. They prescribed antibiotics and she started to administer them straight away.
On day 5 she noticed some new bruising. Jack doesn’t bruise easily so this was odd to her. Checking the antibiotics’ possible side effects, there was no mention of bruising. She decided to check with the doctors again just to be sure. They called her back and said he had probably knocked himself and not to worry. She wasn’t happy with this, explaining that he had been in bed all week and how could he knock himself. They suggested maybe getting from the bed to the bathroom. Mary couldn’t be sure so accepted what they said.
On day six, Mary had had enough. This was no simple cold or flu. It must be something far worse and the Doctor’s just aren’t interested. She came to this conclusion after Jack had Diarrhoea with a red tinge to his excrement. Mary was getting very concerned and decided to give the doctors one last chance. She called them up and forced her way into an early appointment. Sitting in the surgery, Jack felt sick again. The third time today. This too had a red tinge. Something was definitely not right. She was about to take him to the toilet and her name was called. Worried she’d lose her place, she picked jack up and carried him to the Doctor’s room. She knocked on the door. “Come” was all she heard from the other side. She carefully opened the door so as to not lose her grip on Jack, who had since swallowed the sick back down. She wasn’t impressed with him but was grateful he’d held back knowing the problem it would’ve caused.
“Hello Mrs Star, if you could, please place Jack on the bed and sit down here.” Mary did as she was told. It was a relief as it felt like Jack weighed a ton. Especially when added to the weight of her coat and bags as well. “Now Mrs Star, what seems to be the trouble with Jack?”
“Oh, Doctor Albright” Mary began taking a deep breath, “It all started with a headache six days ago. Then a cough and runny nose, then he was sick, and then diarrhoea. I brought him to the doctors two days ago and was given antibiotics.”
“Ok Mrs Star, thank you for telling me. Do you mind if I take a look for myself.”
“Of course doctor.” Mary replied. “Jack honey, please lay still and the doctor will be able to find out what’s wrong with you.”
Doctor Albright felt Jack’s stomach and chest and listened for his heartbeat. He took his blood pressure and noticed a little bruising around his ribs. “Mrs Star. I just have a couple of questions. Have you seen these bruises before?”
Getting up and looking, Mary said “Yes. He started to bruise yesterday.”
“Ok, has he been doing any sports at school that may have caused the bruising?”
“None that I know of. He swims in the school team and does cross country running. He can’t have hurt himself at either or the teachers would have informed me.”
“Ok, thank you Mrs Star. Just one last question. Do you have mice in your house?”
“Well, err we think so. We killed a baby one 2 days ago using rat poison in a mouse trap. Nothing since though.”
“And do you check the traps every day?”
“Yes. I check them every morning. The trap hasn’t been touched since and the pellets are still inside.”
“Ok, well, I don’t want to alarm you Mrs Star.” ‘That sentence alone rings alarm bells!’ She thought, “But I’m going to refer you to the local hospital for some tests. It may be possible that your son has come into contact with the rat poison. I need it confirmed though before we can treat.”
“What does it mean for Jack if it is?”
“Well, it means he may have to stay in hospital to be monitored for a few days. It may be a mild dose so, if it is, he should recover quickly.”
“And if it’s not”
“We’ll know for sure once the tests are complete.” And with that the Doctor called the hospital to let them know Jack was on his way. Mary Star left very quickly.
Listening intently to the conversation, the mouse hidden by Jack in his trouser pocket almost seemed to smile.
Mary raced to the hospital as quickly as her tiny car would let her. On arrival, she sped into the car park, parked in the first space she could find and jumped out. She ran around the car to her son in the passenger seat, picked him up and ran for the entrance, forgetting to lock the car.
As soon as she entered Accident and Emergency, she barged her way past the queue of people ignoring the cries of everyone waiting and straight to the counter.
“Excuse me ma’am but you’ll have to wait your turn like everyone else.”
“I’m sorry but this is an emergency” Mary started
“So is everyone else’s but I still have to log everyone in. Get to the back please”
“Listen, my son has suspected rat poisoning. My doctor called through in advance so you can take him in immediately. This is life and death.”
The receptionist was about to tell her angrily to get to the back of the queue when a nurse behind her said “Yes, you must be Mrs Star. Please, come with me, Doctor Cairns is expecting you. I’ll buzz you through the door.”
“Thank you very much nurse. You are most kind.” Mary shot the receptionist an evil stare at the same time the receptionist clearly showed she was not happy with the nurse at all.
Following the nurse through the hospital, she was getting extremely worried for her son. She got completely disoriented by the route as she went round corners, up flights of stairs, along yet more corridors and down in lifts before finally reaching the doctors room. “Please put your son on the bed and wait here while I go get the doctor.
Jack was asleep. She was so very scared right now. What would she do if he died? He was her world and she didn’t remember the time before him. ‘Mary, pull yourself together’ she thought. ‘He won’t die because you won’t let him.’ Just then Jack came around. “Muumm…” he said.
“I’m right here honey. How are you feeling?” She asked but he didn’t answer. He just went back to sleep.
After a couple of minutes more the nurse was back with another nurse and the doctor. Before they could be introduced, Mary said “What’s going to happen Doctor? What tests are you going to do? Is he going to be alright?”
The new nurse asked Mary to sit down and offered her a cup of tea. Mary was grateful and accepted so the nurse left the room. The first nurse was now checking Jack’s blood pressure and hooked him up to a machine to measure his vital statistics.
The doctor spoke to Mary, “Mrs Star” he began, “We’re just checking his vitals first and looking him over. We’ll let you know what’s happening every step of the way. We just need to ask you to be calm and be there for your son. Right now, the nurse is taking samples so we can understand why your son is ill. Once we know for sure, we will assess his condition and decide which ward to place him on.”
“Thank you doctor, I’ve been trying to tell the surgery all week something is wrong but they wouldn’t listen to me. At least Doctor Albright saw the truth in me.”
“Mrs Star, sometimes a mother’s instinct is the strongest bond and we as doctors should listen. I hope you understand we are doing that now and we want to do all we can for him in his hour of need,”
“Here you are Mrs Star.” The second nurse was back. “A lovely cup of tea for you. I forgot to ask if you wanted milk and sugar so I’ve brought some back with me for you.”
Mary took a sip but it was too hot. She figured she probably wouldn’t like it but she felt calmer now as everybody was rallying around her for a change. Usually, she was always the one rallying without any thought of a thank you from those she helped. ‘Manners are easy to say but swiftly ignored. That’s what her mother used to say. True in her day and true in mine.’ She thought.
“Ok Mrs Star, we’ve done all we can for now. He’s being monitored so if there’s any change in his condition, the nurse here will notify me immediately.” And with that, Doctor Cairns and the first nurse left.”
“Are you comfortable Mrs Star? Can I get you anything?” The nurse still in the room said.
“No thank you.” Mary said, “I just want my happy, joyful son back. Oh, and please, call me Mary. Mrs Star is a little too formal and I’m not a big fan of the name anyway after the divorce.”
“Oh, ok Mary. Thank you” the nurse continued, “You know you can change your name back”
“Yes, I have looked into it but my maiden name was Twatt. I was quite pleased to lose it before and, since the divorce, I’ve been debating with myself whether to return to it.”
“Oh yes, I can see the dilemma.” The nurse continued “I’m not sure what I would do myself.” She smiled at Mary one of those false smiles that people do when they’re trying to be sympathetic. Mary focused back on her son.
The mouse in Jack’s pocket had used a moment when no-one was looking to move itself and two little blue pellets from its hiding place to underneath Jack’s pillow. Just in time as the nurse was removing Jack’s clothes as he slept.
If you saw this mouse, you might think it was after revenge. As a mother, she had watched as these people had killed and taken away her only son. Using a hole she’d created through the wood partition wall right where the rat poison was, the mouse was taking 2 pellets at a time, carrying them up to Jack’s bedroom through another hole under his bed. She was then climbing up to his bed and dropping them into his open mouth as he slept.
During the day, the mouse had made friends with Jack (Who would never tell his mum about it) so she went wherever he did, storing pellets in the pocket he put her in.
Now, timing was critical. From her vantage point the mouse could see the nurse had briefly left the room. She couldn’t see mother but decided to go anyway and deliver the final dose.
Mary was sat watching her son in the bed. She didn’t know much about health but could see all his vital signs were very low. She knew this wasn’t a good sign. He was sleeping soundly on his side and looked very peaceful.
Just at that moment, she spotted movement around the back of his head. She stood up to get a better look and saw a mouse. The mouse was crawling over Jack’s head pushing two blue pellets. She knew recognised them immediately and, in that moment knew what had been happening to her son.
Mary picked up her handbag and ran over to her son’s bed screaming “Get away from my son dammit!” She swung her handbag at the mouse and missed, hitting her son in the head.
Jack woke up screaming, the mouse fell to the floor and scurried under a table. Mary, in shock, held Jack softly saying “I’m so sorry honey. I was trying to hit the mouse.”
Hearing the commotion, the nurse came back and asked Mary to step away from Jack. As she did, the nurse noticed the two pellets on Jack’s bed. Knowing what they were, she immediately hit the alarm. Two security officers appeared. The nurse told them what had happened from her perspective and they took Mary away.