Our soon to be 3-year-old daughter was diagnosed with severe hip dysplasia at 4 months old. She was placed in a brace & since then, we have attended regular appointments at Crumlin Children’s Hospital in Dublin. If you haven’t read her story, you can read it here – My Baby’s Hip Dysplasia. We have attended the hip dysplasia clinic so many times, that I thought I’d share a little about our days at Crumlin Children’s Hospital. I hope this can help those who are heading over for the first time.
We live in the west of Ireland so attending a clinic in Dublin means a very long day of traveling & waiting around the hospital. Our day starts very early when we leave for Dublin. Sometimes we drive & other times we take the train. Either way, the journey is over 3 hours long, each way. So many families are experiencing the same long trip to the hospital. Here are our experiences & what we have learned.
Visiting Crumlin Children’s Hospital by Car
If you are driving, beware that the car park is tiny! There is often a queue of cars waiting to get in. My husband drops us off & wait to park the car. If you don’t have a second adult, then be sure to leave plenty of time to look for parking. You can sometimes luck out & get parking on the street. It will cost a minimum of 3.20euros to park in the car park.
The journey across the country via car is long & frustrating for little ones. Leave enough time to stop at least twice for the toilet & eating. I pack a big bag of toys & snacks for the car. Even with that, our daughter gets so fed up of being tied into her seat. There is only so much you can do, except pray they will take a nap! I leave the toy bag in the car & have a few small separate toys to bring into the hospital (preferably ones she hasn’t seen yet that day).
Visiting Crumlin Children’s Hospital by Train
I prefer going by train because our daughter can move around. There are seats with tables so she can colour & play with her toys. Also, there is a toilet & canteen right there without having to stop travelling. The downside to the train is that I don’t like bringing a big bag of toys because I have to carry whatever I bring around Dublin. So, I bring our daughter’s handbag which contains lots of small toys. And, I bring the leap pad for backup. Plus, snacks – of course!
The train arrives in Dublin at Heuston Station. Unfortunately, that’s not near the children’s hospital. One time we took the Luas then a bus to get there. It was a total disaster. It was pouring rain – the type of rain that comes in horizontally. I was using the umbrella as a shield at the bus stop. For the ride home, we took a taxi. It cost 10euro to go from Crumlin Children’s Hospital to Heuston Station. It’s much less aggravating so I’ve taken taxis ever since.
Hospital Bag Essentials
When you travel over 3 hours before getting to the hospital, unfortunately, the baby is already fed up. It makes the day much more challenging & little things become critical to avoid a total meltdown. Toys are no good at this stage. I still bring a few small thing with me but they are usually thrown on the floor. Here’s what we bring to the clinic:
Snacks – I can’t emphasize the importance of snacks. They are critical at this time. Choose things your child likes to eat & have a few treats as back up.
Drinks – Bring their cup with water or juice & if they are taking a bottle pack that as well. The hospital cafe sells milk & has a microwave to warm bottles or dinners. I always buy the milk there as it would be gone off by the time it was needed after the day of traveling. The are also nice snacks, lunch & dinner foods available at the hospital.
The Favorite Toy – It’s doggy bringing the favorite toy along so keep it safe. It can be upsetting at the hospital & the favorite toy or pacifier / soother will probably be needed at some stage.
Small Toys – Like I said they will probably be thrown on the floor but choose some that your child hasn’t seen in awhile if possible. I put some small toys aside a few weeks in advance so they are like new for the appointment. There are no toys in the clinic we attended. The x-ray department has a table with those beads that you can push along the tracks. That’s the only toys I’ve seen in the hospital. So, it’s definitely important to bring some of your own.
Electronics – If you travel all day like we do, try to have some backup electronics like a tablet or portable DVD player. If you can get to the hospital without using it, that’s all the better!
Hand Sanitizer – Yes they have some around the hospital but if you want to give a quick snack, it’s handy to have your own mini hand sanitizer with you for speed.
Lots of Nappies & Supplies – Be prepared to wait a really long time so pack plenty of nappies, wipes, bags, etc.
Something New – We let our daughter buy something for the train / car ride home like a small toy or a magazine. There’s a small gift shop in the hospital & there is an Easons in Heuston Station. It’s good for a half hour of happiness & it’s a highlight for her visiting the hospital.
Paper Work – Bring your appointment letter & any paperwork you have. I have a notebook where I write the date of each appointment, what was done & what was said each time. I can’t tell you how many times I was asked when her last x-ray was done or what date we were here or there – the notebook has been a life saver.
Our little shopper selected a sticker book for the train ride home.
What Happens At the Hospital
For the hip clinic, we first go to outpatients & take a number. When the number is called we go up to the desk & confirm our address, phone number etc. Then we are given a new number & we go to a room & wait there. A nurse calls each number & tells you whether to go to the clinic or for an x-ray. We nearly always go for an x-ray. Head up to the x-ray department, check in & wait to be called. After the x-ray it’s down to the clinic to wait. As you can see, there is a LOT of waiting around!
A lot of clinics have you wait in the hallway. There are chairs along one side of the hall. There is nowhere to relax & play. The hospital is so old & hasn’t been updated. I find it so depressing every time we go there as the paint is peeling off the walls, children are crying in the hallways & there are no toys. There are lovely paintings along the walls for the children to look at but besides that, the place is terribly run down.
Be Prepared to Wait
You will be there for hours & there is nothing you can do to change that. You will have to go from one waiting room to another to another to another & possibly another after that. It’s frustrating, worrying & extremely hard work on the parents who are trying to keep their child calm & happy through the process. It’s even more upsetting for the child who just wants to go & play. They are fed up of waiting, sitting still & then being expected to lay on a scary table for an x-ray. The state of the hospital makes it all more dismal.
On the bright side, the staff are all excellent. They are kind, caring & supportive. The x-ray technicians all did a wonderful job with our daughter. They explained what they were doing & gave her stickers after taking the x-ray. Our consultant, Dr. Kelly has always been amazing. She always takes the time to explain what was happening to us in words we would understand. She is always optimistic & kind.
So while it’s unfun to wait around, it’s what has to be done. All I can say is to try & make the best of it. There’s no point getting upset with the staff, they are dealing with the same conditions & doing the best they can.
The Trip Home
If we travel by train, we head back to Heuston Station & visit the Easons store. There is some food available in the station. For a quieter place to have a bite to eat & wait for the train, the Ashling Hotel is right across the road. If we travel by car we head straight out of there & hope our daughter falls asleep on the journey. It’s a long day for everyone.
Round trip to Crumlin Children’s hospital from the West of Ireland is a very long & tiring day. What’s most important is that the care we receive there has been excellent. So we approach the day with a positive mindset, ready to wait & have our bag of essentials packed.
Best of luck to you if you are attending the Crumlin or any children’s hospital. x