Pilaf and…Just A ‘Little Niggle’

From the age of four Archie had episodes where he complained of ‘a sore tummy’.  I took him to various doctors and asked if it could be his appendix but they all said he was too young and it was probably just ‘a niggly appendix’.

The ‘niggles’ came and went but one Monday morning when he was seven he said he didn’t want to go to school.  He said the niggles were back and that they were quite bad.  I took him to a GP who is also a naturopath and she told me to take him home, cook up some organic brown rice, discard the rice and give him the water to drink and make him drink lots of it.  Righto!  So Archie was lying in bed not looking too good, and I gave him the rice water which he drank until he vomited.  I put him in the shower that was over the bath and after scrapping the vomit up out of the carpet I went back to the bathroom and found him sound asleep (as in almost in a coma), in the bath with the water running.  Not good!  So back to the doctor we went.

Brown Rice Pilaf with Chicken and Chick Peas

During the car ride he complained of sharp niggles every time I went over a bump.  He hobbled into the doctor’s surgery all hunched over and hugging his stomach and the rice water doctor wasn’t there but another chap saw us and he sensibly said, ‘Archie, see if you can hop on one leg’.  And Archie couldn’t do it so he said, ‘It’s his appendix.  He’ll need it cut out.  Take him straight to hospital’.

I drove him to hospital and as we were walking up to the counter at Accident and Emergency Archie was walking very slowly and another set of parents charged in front of us with their daughter who had her arm all wrapped up in tea towels.  We were taken straight through and Archie was diagnosed with acute appendicitis and we were told that Archie was next on the list for surgery after the girl with the arm in tea towels.  As she had arrived ‘first’ she would be operated on first and have a closed reduction for her broken arm that would take ‘five minutes’ then it would be Archie’s turn.

Two and a half hours later that’ five minute’ surgery was still going as the break in the arm turned out to be a lot worse than first thought and her arm was now being nailed back together with pins and plates.  The doctor came in and said, ‘Unfortunately we now have to do two emergency caesarians and they’ll have to come first I’m afraid but we’ll be calling down for Archie as soon as we’ve finished with the caesars’.

So we kept waiting like we had been for the past five hours and it was now about 10pm.  The doctor came back down and said there’d been further delays so Archie wouldn’t be able to have his surgery until about 1.30am which is a bit late for surgery so it would be best for Archie to go to the ward for the night and be operated on first thing in the morning.  I asked, ‘You don’t think it could burst do you?’  And he brushed off the comment like there was no state of emergency and Archie was just fine.

Just before midnight we arrived on the ward.  Archie was to be given some pain relief and I told Archie I would wait with him while he had the medication via an IV, watch him get settled, then I’d leave and be back first thing in the morning.  The one and only nurse on duty that night came over and told me I had nothing to worry about, ‘You just go home and get some rest because you need to be back here first thing in the morning’.

I said, ‘Yes, thank you, but I’ll just wait until he has the morphine and then I’ll go.’

‘I won’t be able to give him the morphine for about five minutes so you go and get some sleep.  He’ll be fine.’

‘It’s okay.  I’d like to stay thanks.  I told him I’d stay with him until he had his pain relief.’

‘There’s no need for you to do that, he’ll be fine, you just make sure you leave now so you can get plenty of rest.  Tomorrow will be a big day for you too you know’, she said as she beamed at me.

‘I know but I’d just like to see him have his pain medication, he’s already been waiting a long time for it, and I told him I would stay with him.’

‘Don’t worry about that, I’m going to give it to him as soon as you leave and I’ll be watching him so you just go.  He’ll be very well looked after.’

So I reluctantly said goodbye to Archie but I had a sinking feeling and hardly slept a wink all night.  I was back at the hospital at 6.30am.  I nearly collapsed when I saw Archie.  He was the colour grey with his knees drawn up to his chest and breathing only shallowly.  The nurse walked into the four-bed ward and I looked her in the eye and immediately she looked alarmed.

I asked, ‘What time did you give him the morphine?’

And she started heading out the door.

I yelled after her, ‘I want to see his chart.  What time did he get his morphine?’

And she didn’t reply, she disappeared into another room.  Then the anaethetist walked in and said he was ready to take Archie to theatre.  I was standing there absolutely livid.  The anaethetist took one look at Archie and immediately yelled for the nurse to come back into the room.  He asked her when Archie last had some pain relief.  She said she hadn’t given him any because he hadn’t called out for any.  He said, ‘You get this boy some pain relief right now.’  She said, ‘He’s been called down to theatre so there isn’t time.’  He pointed to Archie and said, ‘This boy will not make it to threatre without pain relief.  He won’t survive the journey.  You can ring theatres and tell them there’s a delay because you didn’t give a boy with appendicitis any pain relief’.

Season with freshly ground pepper

The anaethetist apologised profusely to me on behalf of the hospital and said ‘this sort of thing should never happen’.  The nurse gave him the morphine and 15 minutes later Archie was taken down to theatre.

The appendix had an abscess on it that had burst and was leaking pus into his peritonium.  We spent a few extra days in hospital because of all the extra doses of antibiotics and added pain management he required.

And he made a full recovery!

Archie hasn’t been able to eat brown rice ever since but every now and then, when we know he’s out for the night, I make a dish with brown rice.

Brown Rice Pilaf with Chicken and Chick Peas

Serves:  4

Degree of Difficulty:  3/5

Cost:  This is quite an affordable family meal you can make for less than $20.00.

  • 1.3 ltrs chicken stock
  • 500gms brown rice
  • 2 tbspns extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 brown onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tspns gnd coriander
  • 2 tspns gnd cumin
  • 400g can chick peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 BBQ chicken, flesh put aside and the rest fed to the dogs
  • 150gms baby English spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cup currants
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

In a medium sized saucepan bring chicken stock to the boil.  Add rice and cover saucepan with a tight fitting lid and allow to simmer until stock has been absorbed (about 40 mins).

In a large saucepan over medium heat add onion and cook for a few minutes without browning.  Add garlic and spices and cook for about 10 mins or until onion is transparent.

When rice is cooked add to onion mixture and stir well to combine.  Add chick peas and shredded chicken and heat gently.  Add spinach, currants and pine nuts.  Stir gently until spinach is just wilted.

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  1. Sorry Charlie, I’m too angry to leave a civil comment. How DARE she do that to a seven year old?

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I know, but can you imagine how bad I felt! I should never have left my post! xx

      • Don’t feel guilty about leaving him. In spite of your repeated attempts to stay and watch until he got his meds, you listened to a medical ‘professional’ who we’ve been trained to believe know what they’re doing and have our health and safety as their first concern. Obviously common sense or even simple compassion are NOT part of the training that they get in nursing school.

        And, in spite of that fact that both my brother and SIL trained as nurses, I don’t judge the rest of the nursing profession by their standards and continue being an advocate for my own medical treatment and that of my family when I interact with any medical professionals.

      • Yes, I can imagine how bad you felt, and that makes me even angrier. They made you leave your child, promising to take care of him, and then didn’t. How dare they?

  2. Wow, I’m not sure if I’m more surprised at how badly Archie was treated, or how angry your story made me. That nurse should have been sacked. And I hope you found a new GP.

    Love the pilaf though!

  3. Poor Archie! It scares me to think this kind of thing can happen and does! You must have been beside yourself and rightly so.

    Pilaf looks marvellous….a lovely dinner.

  4. That sounds absolutely ridiculous! Appendicitis surgeries should DEFINITELY come before broken arms, seeing as how if they burst it is FATAL. Maybe it’s the American in me, but I would have sued if I were you. For sure. Insane.

  5. I have always been afraid of hospitals (or rather I don’t trust I am taken care of in a proper way) but now I’m really scared to death!
    The brown rice dish looks so good, I think I will start cooking more with brown rice.

  6. Well, I can certainly understand why Archie would never want to eat brown rice. I’m just glad he’s OK after that horrible lack of medical care. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

    When I was growing up, my younger brother had a similar appendicitis attack and had his appendix removed. I can’t recall whether it had burst, but I think it had. He was treated very well at a rural Minnesota hospital.

  7. Reading the ordeal Archie endured, as a mother I am livid. I am so glad he is OK.
    Your rice dish sounds yummy.

  8. Hi Charlie .. I don’t believe what I read .. and if I’d been the parents of the girl I’d have let Archie go first .. ok then they didn’t know the break was bad … I really don’t think I want brown rice thank you … I am so pleased he’s fine now …. Crumbs what a to do – poor little chap .. let alone parents!! Cheers Hilary

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks Hilary, I’m still trying to work out why I can’t comment on your posts. I have my web person looking in to it – so frustrating! xx

  9. Love how your recipes are always accompanied by an interesting story about your life. I love recipes like these where even though there’s lots of ingredients, but all I need to do is just chuck em together till they’re done lol. And it helps that most of these can be found in the pantry already, except the BBQ chicken of course haha. Yum!

  10. So terrible. I hate leaving people in hospital. Last time we did it — just had to have some rest — the person was much worse the next morning. I don’t know why we can’t trust the “professionals” better.

  11. OMG, Charlie, the incompetence is quite astounding. Does one sue a hospital as they do in the US? It’s very uncommon in Canada but it has been done before. I can see why poor old Archie won’t eat brown rice, that pain must have been incredible.

  12. Yikes! Scary story. Hospitals are scary places everywhere, I suppose.

    Sorry Archie won’t eat brown rice, but I could gobble up a bowl of yours right now!

  13. OMG Charlie, seriously I feel like going right now and asking that nurse who on the earth gave her permit to work…. God I can only imagine how much pain poor child had to bear because of that Nurse…
    I am too angry right now after reading this and can imagine what you must have gone through….

  14. WT* I don’t really want to swear…but geez you should have sued that hospital and that nurse should have been punished! that is just SO wrong! how could she do that to you! Not give Archie any pain relief and didn’t even apologise!!! OMG!!!!
    If i was around I would give that nurse a piece of my mind!!!!!

    THANK GOSH Archie made a full recovery but that’s still not the point!!!!

  15. It stands to reason that, being human, hospital staff may make mistakes like any of us can and will. This, however, is something totally different and borders on gross negligence. A child is admitted with acute appendicitis and no one checks on him all night? I am so glad — and relieved – to know that the little gray-coloured boy recovered and grew up to lose his clothes on Prom Night.

  16. I hope you filed a formal complaint against that nurse. That never should’ve happened. Great dish, though!

  17. Wow.. I know I have bad reactions to peaches and it wasn’t pretty. I am happy the hospital apologized to you. But if I may say, this brown rice pilaf really looks delicious

  18. Gosh… sometimes doctors just don’t take things seriously…

  19. You were right for being livid … and as for the nurse, I won’t say what should have happened. But the niggles? i had to Google it … and whoa … did i learn a lot!

  20. Wow how horrible. Poor Archie! What an an ordeal for you and your family. The dish looks lovely though!

  21. Poor Archie!

    Brown Rice Pilaf with Chicken and Chick Peas looks great! I like how you added spinach to it, always great to include a green vegetable.

  22. Poor Archie. What sort of a nurse gives her word to a mother and then leaves her little boy in pain? Not only does she have no professional skills but not heart. You poor thing! I can’t imagine how you must have felt but really you should be able to trust that leaving your child in hospital he would be looked after.

    A few years ago I was sent to hospital in agony with a cyst on my kidney. When we got there, there was a problem with my health insurance company and the hospital couldn’t get on to them so they just left me there in agony waiting. Lucky for me there was a nice nurse there and took one look at me and fought til I was in a bed with morphine.

  23. Shame on that nurse for so boldly lying and leaving a child to suffer. She must not have been a mom. Nurses are wonderful people and I have relied on many a good one, however I too had one when a child who “did me wrong” so to say. My mother and the Doctor lit into her so bad and she was banned from my room for the entire hospital stay. My mother was upset for weeks about leaving me alone, but even the Doctors told her – you are supposed to rely on the professionals, you cannot be with your child every second. I cannot stand the taste of brown rice, but it has nothing to do with nurses:) I might try your dish with white rice instead.

  24. My god what an ordeal. Glad all was well eventually.

  25. Oh my goodness, what a horrible, horrible story (except for the full recovery at the end, that was obviously good!). I spent a couple of days in hospital with someone with appendicitis last year, who ended up being in the small minority who had it reduce and not need the surgery that had been booked. I think they now go in the ‘niggly’ category, but it got a bit more than ‘niggly’ before it settled down again! However, I can certainly say that pain relief is needed so I do feel for Archie. Hopefully he can now enjoy this rice with no bad memories of the water!

  26. Poor Archie! Unfortunately these things happen. I ended up going a bit nuts when I had a long stint in hospital as a teenager… A couple of stuff-ups by nurses or other staff and I started questioning my care and double-checking absolutely everything. Even the most professional person (and I’m not including Archie’s nurse in that!) can have a bad day, or be called away for an emergency and forget – and unfortunately it’s a high stakes situation if they do.

  27. Having spent a lot of time in hospital with my son, this story just makes me sigh… poor Archie and poor you… That is just awful!

  28. Dear Charlie Louie,

    Looks like things have still not changed with our hospital system. Glad he made a full recovery. Your brown rice recipe looks delicious!

  29. Oh dear, poor Archie! That is terrible that he had to endure all of that time without pain relief of some sort. Lucky that you arrived just in time 🙂

  30. Reannon Hope says:

    Charlie I am in tears for you & your boy. Nothing is as bad as knowing your child was in pain & you were not there to make it right & that the person in charge of them done nothing either. I would have slapped the nurse, I wouldn’t have been able to stop myself! I am so glad that your boy is Ok & I hop[e neither of you have to go through pain like that again.

    Over the years I have come to realise that the staff who work in hospiatls have lost their people skills & most of their compassion. Last November I had a miscarriage ( the 2nd one of the year & the 3rd in total). The nurse was out & out rude telling me that it was really no big deal as I was only just past 5 weeks so really shouldn’t have even known I was pregnant- can you believe it!!!
    I just think that when you get to that point where you see a patient as a number & just because they are not “crying out” or because you see peple like them every day so you have lost the ability to care, its time to change professions.

  31. That’s astonishing – truly, I would have been screaming if that was my kid. Poor thing! But it most definitely wasn’t your fault, after all, the general public trusts doctors and nurses because we’re not the experts here. I can understand why he’s traumatised by brown rice now!

  32. After reading stories like this, you can sort of understand why people get physical with other people! WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT STUPID NURSE THINKING!!! Right, now that I have that out of my system, have a super day.
    🙂 Mandy

  33. What a terrible story, and how right your mother’s instincts were to want to stay. I feel quite put off brown rice now.

  34. Glad everything worked out well eventually – I hope that idiot nurse learned a few lessons since that night :s

  35. Oh my gosh, I have goosebumps all over from that story. I don’t think I will be able to eat brown rice again without thinking of poor Archie!

  36. Oh my word, just reading that infuriated me!!! That nurse should have been fired. I learned when I was 17 and my mother was in the hospital with 12 brain aneurysms that you cannot trust those nurses. They kept trying to give her medication she was allergic to!

    Now when someone we love is in the hospital, we take shifts. Only the women of course, because men don’t seem to be as cautious as we are.

    Thank God Archie came out of that OK!

  37. I’m in serious shock. How could this kind of thing happened and pretend as if nothing happened…and we trust doctors and nurses? After becoming a mom, this kind of thing really scares me. Things happen when least expected, right? I’m just happy that Archie recovered fully. But that shouldn’t be the end… the hospital should have been required to re-think about this situation!!!

  38. You have amazing stories. So horrible! Poor Archie. There are times I think that doctors ought to be exposed to the same torture their patients go though…then possibly they’ll realize a few things. So glad that Archie came through it ok. I don’t blame him at all on not wanting to eat brown rice again!!!

  39. Argh!! Such incompetence in medical fields is getting out of hands these days. Shameful. I thought it’s their responsibility to take good care of patients. It’s never the same again.

    Glad Archie is fine.

  40. Oh, my goodness.. I would have a hard time looking at brown rice too if I had been in his shoes.. your poor Archie.. I just knew that nurse was going to screw up because a mother’s intuition is never wrong! I just want to slap her or something.. phew.. got a little worked up over that one!!

  41. Oh My God I am livid and I know it happened a long time ago but man I would love to slap that nurse. poor Archie. just goes to show a Mothers Instinct is always right. So glad he made a full recovery hun, but I am still mad! Xx

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