Real Life

REAL LIFE: My eight year old saved my life

Marcus went for a nap while feeling ill and woke up three days later, he would have died if it wasn't for his son Phoenix, eight, who called 000 in the nick of time.
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Marcus Pool, 35, Macleod, Vic shares the story of how his son saved his life:

Lazing on the couch with my kids, Phoenix, eight, and Winter, four, I tried to concentrate on the telly.

“What’s wrong?” Phoenix asked, realising I wasn’t my usual self.

“Daddy’s got a headache,” I told him.

I’d been blowing my nose a lot and taking deep breaths, so I wondered if I was coming down with something.

But I was separated from the kids’ mum, Amalie, and it was my weekend with them.

I didn’t want to spend this precious time in bed feeling sorry for myself.

Realising something was up, Phoenix helped me put Winter to sleep, reading her favourite Dr Seuss books until she dozed off to sleep.

The next morning, I woke up dripping with sweat.

Odd as it sounds, I was freezing and shivering.

When Phoenix rushed in, he took one look and ordered me to stay in bed.

“You should rest,” he instructed.

I was too weak to object.

A wave of dizziness rushed over me when I tried to get up to use the bathroom.

Phoenix even had to hold my hand and guide me.

I ordered some food for him and Winter, then went back to bed where I dozed in and out of sleep.

Whenever I opened my eyes, Phoenix was taking care of his little sister.

But the next time I woke, he was standing beside me.

“Unlock your phone,” he urged, clutching my mobile.

I keyed in the passcode and closed my eyes heavily.

Next thing I knew, paramedics were standing by my bed.

Me, before my illness

“He’s allergic to a few medicines,” Phoenix told them.

I felt too heavy and languid to move or even open my eyes more than a crack before falling back into a deep sleep.

When I came to, I looked around and saw the white walls of a hospital.

A doctor loomed over me.

“Happy Father’s Day,” he said. “You’re one hell of a lucky dad.”

What was the doc talking about?

And why was I connected to so many tubes and machines?

Amalie and the kids were there, and Phoenix handed me a Father’s Day card.

“You were very, very sick, Marc,” Amalie began, explaining that a week earlier, when I’d had the kids, I’d nearly died of meningococcal septicaemia – a type of blood poisoning.

“Today is Father’s Day,” she continued, “and if the kids hadn’t been with you, you definitely wouldn’t be here.”

It turned out that when I was lying in bed, I’d started talking complete gibberish and Phoenix had asked me to unlock the phone so he could ring his mum.

From there, Amalie had instructed him to call paramedics, who he spoke to for eight minutes while Winter sat by my bedside.

My plight had even made the local newspapers and the triple-0 call had been made public, too.

Amalie played it for me.

“Dad’s not making any sense,” Phoenix told the operator. “He’s saying random things like ‘the rocket is in the car.'”

What was I talking about?

Phoenix and me playing the guitar

Then the operator had asked Phoenix to try to get me to smile or raise my arms above my head.

“No, he’s not doing them,” Phoenix had replied.

Hearing my boy taking control in such a terrifying situation had me overcome with emotion.

I started to cry.

“You’re my superhero,” I said. “Weren’t you scared?”

“Nah,” he smiled, “I was just worried about you.”

Amalie told me that on my third day in hospital, docs had predicted I wasn’t going to make it.

Poor Phoenix had asked them constantly if I was going to die.

“Daddy’s here now,” I promised.

Both he and Winter spent time with me each day in the ICU, where they sat on my bed colouring in.

Looking at them choked me up at times – I’d come so close to losing them.

But it wasn’t all good news.

After I gradually learnt of my ordeal, doctors revealed that the meningococcal septicaemia had spread throughout my body.

The damage to my hands

The tips of my right finger and thumb, along with my toes, had been cut off from blood supply and turned black. Doctors would try to save my legs but it depended on how the tissue regenerated, as it was already dead.

There was no denying my black legs looked a fright.

Amalie and I were always honest with the kids so we never sugar-coated anything.

“How about we call them Shrek feet?” I suggested, thinking of something they were familiar with.

Shrek had dark green feet so that was the closest I could think of.

We all had a good chuckle.

Two months later, the amputation of my thumb and finger tips was confirmed.

As weeks passed, doctors delivered another blow.

Much of the tissue in my feet hadn’t repaired, so a below-the-knee amputation was the only option.

“Won’t they come back?” Phoenix asked.

“No buddy, they won’t,” I told him.

“Will you miss them?” he wondered.

“Yes,” I told him, “but I’ll get funky new robot legs.”

Phoenix and I had always loved kicking a footy around so I knew he was worried I’d no longer be able to play.

To make it easier on the kids, I decided to have a going away party for my legs the night before the operation.

My feet were rock-hard and black, but I could still walk on them.

My black legs looked a fright

With my close friends and the kids, we headed to the hospital café and ordered pizzas and drinks.

“See ya later, legs, goodbye!” Phoenix cried.

I knew losing them would change my life forever, but when I woke from the amputation, I decided to focus on the positive: I was still here and would get to see Phoenix and Winter grow up.

I remained in hospital for six months, during which time I was fitted with new prosthetics.

“Wow, you’re part-robot now,” Phoenix said.

“New cool magic legs!” Winter exclaimed.

My first 
time standing on my new prosthetic 

Earlier this year, I was allowed home and I’ve been determined not to let this incident change my life.

I have to stay independent.

With the help of a wheelchair, I take a shower, get ready and put on my legs each day.

It takes me twice as long to do anything now, but I’m still so grateful.

Many people who contract meningococcal septicaemia don’t get this chance.

“Suck it up, and do it,” I tell myself when it gets too hard.

In spite of everything, I’m so lucky to be alive, and I know that’s only because of my very brave, quick-thinking son.

After the op, with Phoenix and Winter

Enter our Brave Kids competition

Write and tell us about the child you’re nominating.

Give as many details as you can and include some photos if you can.

Make sure you ask permission from their parent or carer before you enter them.

To be eligible they have to be under 18.

Write to us at: Brave Kids, Take 5, GPO Box 3525, Sydney, NSW 2001, or email [email protected] with “Brave Kids” in the subject line.

Entries close 18/4/19.

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