The story of Sweep starts on a warm spring day in 1993.
There was a young girl just six years old. And she was sitting in a hospital ward, in a hospital gown, eating hospital food. She had been a regular visitor to hospitals in her early life.
When she was born, her parents spent the first year taking her to doctor after doctor, because they knew something was wrong. And they were right. After many months, doctors found the little girl had a hole in her heart. And it was making her super poorly. In fact, if it had been left any longer, it could have been….well. You know. Worse.
So when she was a few years old, she had an operation. Pioneering keyhole surgery which was pretty cool, because not only did it save her life….It also put an umbrella in her heart. And she didn’t know anyone else who had something as awesome as an umbrella in their body.
After the surgery, she became a different child. She wasn’t so poorly anymore. But she had a weak immune system and would easily have big crashes in her health. She caught every bug and then some. She also had asthma, so the doctors liked to see her every so often to see how she was doing.
When she got her first nasty bout of tonsillitis at the age of six, the doctors made the immediate decision to remove them. And because of her previous medical history, it meant a few days in hospital.
By this point, she was old enough to know what a hospital was. But she didn’t quite realise that they made her better, she just thought they meant pain and horrible medicines and needles and people prodding at her.
Despite her small and weedy size, and the fact she looked more like a four year old than a six year old, she was a tough little thing. So tough in fact, that it took an adults dose of anesthetic to put her under for the operation. Luckily, everything went OK with the op and she spent the night resting and trying to wake up from her large dose of sleeping magic.
Everything was scary the next morning though, mainly because when she woke up, she fell hard out of the high hospital bed, landing on her back and gave herself a few bruises, which for obvious reasons wasn’t great after an operation.
She also felt empty. It was a weird thing to feel. Somehow it seemed like she didn’t have any food or anything inside of her. Or blood, or bones, or anything. She felt like she was floating. She just wasn’t herself. She had her Mum with her of course, but she was away from all her siblings. She was away from her home and her toys.She was away from everything she knew and she wondered if it would always be like this. She hadn’t seen her Dad for a week because he worked away. She was sore and achey and everything seemed tough for the little girl who was really too young to realise that she could have been in the hospital for much worse.
Evening came and dinner was ready at the hospital. It was the first time the little girl had been allowed to eat for some time. The menu was lasagne and she couldn’t wait to eat. Her Mum helped her over to a table and said she had to go down to the hospital shop but that she would be back soon.
The little girl cut up her steaming hot lasagne, and was amazed at how good it tasted. In fact, it was the best thing she had ever eaten. She only had a few mouthfuls left to eat, and she wondered where her Mum had got to, so she looked behind her at the door. Just as she did, she saw her Dad standing in the doorway, across the ward.
He was in his work jacket and smiling at her. She got up and started running to him shouting….”Daddy, My Daddy!” just like in The Railway Children. Exactly like in The Railway Children. She looked very funny in an over-sized gown with lasagne on her face as she ran quicker than she should have been running the day after an operation.
Before she could give her Dad a hug, he held out a present for her.
It was Sweep. From Sooty and Sweep, one of her favourite TV shows. Sweep had always been her favourite. It was a puppet and it even made a squeaky noise like Sweep did in the show.
It was the best thing she had ever seen. She loved it so much that her pain and aches somehow vanished, and she wasn’t even scared the next day when her Dad had to go back away for work and her Mum couldn’t stay the night because she had to be home with the other children. She wasn’t scared because she had Sweep.
And she has loved Sweep for many years. And she knows she always will.
Because that little girl was me.
**I know you all saw that one coming. And yes, it is weird to talk about yourself in the third person. And I know the story wasn’t even exciting, but it is one of my stories, and I love it.**