I squeezed the tube of ointment and delicately dabbed it on the spots.
My daughter Lacey, now eight, had just caught chicken pox.
‘Daddy, it’s itchy,’ she cried, scratching her arms.
‘You’re being really brave,’ I replied, gently applying lotion.
A single dad-of-six, Lacey was my third child so I was well accustomed to dealing with chicken pox.
I applied the treatment morning and night and before long the spots started to fade and soon they became a distant memory.
That is until two months later in December 2017 when Lacey started feeling unwell.
I was working late so my friend, Jade, 26 , had picked her up from school for me.
Lacey had been feeling poorly all day and when she arrived at Jade’s she was complaining of a headache.
‘The teacher said she was falling asleep all day,’ Jade told me.
I ran my hand across Lacey’s forehead and it was burning up.
After collecting her and taking her home, I gave Lacey some Calpol.
That evening, she barely touched her food.
I noticed she wasn’t acting her usual bubbly self either.
She had a headache and a high temperature.
‘I want to go to bed,’ she said sleepily.
It was a bit out of character for Lacey, but I hoped a good night’s sleep would help.
That evening I was in bed when I was suddenly woken up at 2.20am by a strange noise.
‘It must be the TV on,’ I thought, lying back down.
I started to drift back off to sleep, but the noise continued.
I went out to explore and realised it was coming from Lacey’s room.
When I opened the door I was horrified to see my little girl having a seizure in her bed.
‘Lacey,’ I cried, dashing to her side.
She was unresponsive and kept fitting, so I grabbed my phone and called 999.
‘The ambulance is on the way,’ the operator said.
In five minutes the rapid response team arrived outside.
The paramedics helped me carry Lacey downstairs, but she kept fitting.
They decided to drive her straight to Scarborough Hospital for tests.
Everything happened to so quickly – it was terrifying.
Especially because I’d already lost a little boy a few years ago when he was stillborn.
I didn’t want to lose Lacey too.
The doctors took me to the visitor’s room where I waited for news.
‘What’s happening?’ I begged.
‘We’re sending Lacey for a CT scan now,’ the doctor explained.
They still didn’t know what was wrong but they spotted a shadow on her brain.
Lacey took a turn for the worst in a matter of hours and she was hooked up to a life-support machine.
She was transferred to Leeds Hospital for an operation.
There were so many doctors in the ambulance with her I had to take a taxi.
‘Daddy will be with you soon,’ I said.
She was taken into theatre as soon as she arrived.
‘We’re doing all we can but she might not pull through,’ the surgeon said.
I was utterly devastated – one minute she was fine and next she was fighting for her life.
They began operating at 7am and she was theatre for 12 hours.
Finally the surgeon came out.
‘Lacey’s stable,’ the doctor explained.
‘Did she have any cuts on her face?’ the doctor asked.
The only thing I could think of was the chicken pox.
The doctors suspected that one of the spots near her nose may have got infected and it could have travelled to her brain.
Seeing her covered in wires was terrifying.
Lacey finally came off life-support on Christmas Eve and the first thing she did was laugh.
Although we noticed she was struggling to communicate.
‘The infection has caused brain damage,’ the doctor explained.
Six weeks later she was finally allowed to come home, but we weren’t out of the woods.
The infection had knocked back her development – she was like a toddler again.
She’d lost the ability to speak and we were learning everything from scratch again.
She got frustrated and lost her temper when she struggled to express herself.
It has been difficult but bit by bit she’s starting to pick things up again.
She started a new special school and they’ve been amazing – even teaching her sign language.
Lacey will need more x-rays and tests as she grows, but she’s a little fighter.
If she made it through that she can make it through anything.