Archive for the ‘illness’ Category

Dust

Gabe

Dust is Gabe’s enemy. Not the dust that L vacuums in large quantities from his bedroom floor when it is finally cleared of clothes and schoolwork. Not the dust that accumulates on his desk and shelves. It’s the dust that he sees on his records and despite diligent brushing (technique checked against a YouTube video) he can’t quite remove. It frustrates him, can make him angry with L or me for failing to show him how to remove it and even stops him playing his records.. for a while.

And then there’s the static electricity..

Eliza

Eliza returned home after seven days in hospital with appendicitis. Two days later she was back at school and then quickly into the Easter holiday. Today, ten days after leaving hospital, she did tentative, yet perfect cartwheels in the garden. She hasn’t re-started gymnastics, although she did attend her session as volunteer coach, but is beginning to test her body to decide when.

Robin

City fell three goals behind at Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-final. Robin gurned and complained, then snapped at L when she tried to offer consolation. He held on until injury time, willing a goal from City that could give them a foothold in the tie. It didn’t come and he stormed out. He sat behind the mirror in L & my room, refusing to go to bed and saying he was humiliated by City’s performance. The next morning the mood had lifted.

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Appendicitis

Eliza

After several days of stomach pain, forcing herself to school so she could go to a friend’s birthday cinema trip, a mis-diagnosis of a urinary infection, Eliza was admitted to hospital and a day later had appendicitis confirmed. Her initial goal was to be out within three days to go to a concert, but that proved impossible. After the diagnosis and being told to expect seven days IV medication (but not surgery), the surgeon asked if she had any questions. “Yes, what’s the wifi code?”

Now, four nights into her stay, she exists, quietly amongst the bustle of a four bed ward. Children and infants, admitted at night, shrieking and sobbing with pain and fear. Regular IV infusions, each emitting piercing beeps with an urgency not matched by the nurses’ response. Pain relief, still needed to remain comfortable, but usually offered an hour or two behind schedule. Eliza watches TV, Friends (series 8) on her iPhone, does puzzles, and often dozes. She has L with her 18 hours each day and night and me a lot less often. Despite the pain, the discomfort, the lack of privacy and the boredom, Eliza has stayed firm and even-tempered. She has a discharge date – three more nights,

Robin

Robin has missed Eliza and L. It feels like weeks, he says, since he’s seen L. He makes hospital visits, sitting next to Eliza, talking a little and happy to be in a larger family group.

Gabe

Gabe has barely mentioned Eliza, hardly enquiringly how well she is and turning down the offer to visit her. He attended a university entrance event hosted within 1/2 mile of the hospital, but didn’t follow my suggestion to combine it with a trip to see Eliza. Finally, on her fourth day in hospital he visited. He made exaggerated attempts to clean the germs from his hands with the soap dispenser at the ward’s door and again when leaving the “nest of germs.” After barely acknowledging Eliza and not asking her how she is, he picks a crossword from her puzzle book to occupy himself. It is all, I conclude, his way of dealing with her illness and absence.

Ring-bearer

Eliza

The invitation came in contemporary style – by snapchat – and on the day before Cousin I’s wedding. Would Eliza act as ring-bearer? There was mention of the symbolism of Eliza fulfilling this role at the same location where Cousin I had been Eliza’s Mum’s bridesmaid. Eliza saw the message on the way out of school. She was thrilled and nervous.

She was handed the rings shortly before the wedding and went to leave the house without them, before being reminded. At the ceremony, she sat away from us, in the second row. She looked, I thought, a little twitchy amongst unfamiliar people and experiencing an unfamiliar rite. But she stood and delivered the rings on time – slender, angular, stylish, a girl not quite in or out of her place.

Gabe

Gabe endured the wedding with a heavy cold. He barely slept the night in the hotel when we arrived in London. But he kept going through the day and long into the evening, asking gently when we might be returning to the hotel. And as we drove around Richmond in the hired van, he made his contribution to the celebrations with a jaunty playlist.

Robin

Through the early weeks of January, L and I have tried to nail down a party for Robin’s birthday. Still anxious about friends at his new school and those who have gone to other schools, this has tested him. He came up with names and an event was agreed. But he hesitated over asking anyone but his best friend, A – presumably fearing being turned down. With barely a week to go, he asked his three school friends, managed to get a parent’s contact number, and got positive responses.

 

Nut intolerance

Eliza

Staying with our friends, S&L, in London, we had strawberry cheesecake for dessert. Soon after eating a slice, Eliza complained of unpleasant feelings in her mouth. L helped her swallow an antihistamine capsule. The cake base had pistachio nuts and a vaguely suspected intolerance of nuts was raised again. Eliza felt unwell through the evening. Her unease heightened by what she describes as a phobia of being sick. 

Soon after going to bed she was sick. We moved her to our room and an hour or so later she was sick twice more. The palest girl was even paler. 

Years after the boys shook their allergies (bananas and eggs), it seems we must once more be on the alert. On the other hand, Eliza confronted her phobia and was not found wanting. 

Gabe

Two Mondays in succession, England matches have coincided with Gabe’s German lessons. Each time we’ve only realised when the only option was a late cancellation. Twice we offered Gabe that option. Twice he has declined and sat in the kitchen doing German language exercises with his tutor for an hour while the match has been on in the living room. 

Robin

Conversations with Robin are punctuated with him uttering ‘Wait!’ It’s an all purpose expression that enables him to communicate surprise, contradiction, clarification, emphasis and, occasionally, that we should wait for him. 

Gastric flu

Eliza

Long into Friday night, hours after first worrying she might be sick, Eliza was. On Monday, Eliza missed her first day of junior school. A clean attendance record lasting three years and one term ended. Through the week, she suffered stomach cramps, loss of appetite. It wasn’t until the following Sunday, when she woke up and ran into the kitchen that the flu was beaten.

Gabe

Gabe asked to spend Saturday out of the house. He didn’t want to catch the flu. He avoided spending time in the same room as Eliza, refused to touch plates that she had used when eating the tiny portions of food she could manage. His quarantining of his sister worked as he stayed healthy.

Robin

By mid-week, Robin was accusing Eliza of faking. She should be back at school he said. Part and parcel of a period of squabbling between the two of them. The following Sunday, Robin woke in the night and spent over an hour with his head in the toilet. He wasn’t actually sick but was unwell. The day Eliza returned to school, he had to take off. L & I contemplated another week of juggling work with sick leave. Then by Monday afternoon, Robin recovered.

Tenses

Gabe

Gabe’s questioning has recently veered towards a particular and new topic: verb tenses. Sometimes he wants to know how a tense is constructed in French, other times it’s to understand what it is in English. “How do you make the pluperfect in French?”. “What’s the future conditional in English?” French classes at school have prompted this curiosity, not just about the foreign language, but his own as well. L and I are learning for a second time.

Robin

Sitting with Robin as he watched the end of a familiar movie, he suddenly hid his face from the screen and began groaning. “Kissing. Yuck” he complained. I asked why he objected and didn’t he like Mummy kissing him. Hugging, ‘yes’ he replied, but not kissing.

Eliza

Struck by a bug or dodgy food, Eliza had a restless night that culminated in her being sick. It wiped her out for the whole of the last weekend before school term restarted – stomach pains, temperature and fatigue. She faces missing the first day back at school, which would be the first day she has missed at junior school after three years and one term.

Teen

Gabe

Gabe celebrated his 13th birthday with pizza, with us his family and two days later, with five friends, who were assembled for a FIFA14 party. They played football in the garden and sat around the dining table laughing, although L and I couldn’t tell at what. Gabe was very satisfied with his birthday.

Robin

Robin played football in the morning of his brother’s party. At lunch he said he couldn’t see properly with one eye and went to bed with a migraine. He woke as Gabe’s friends arrived. Although not part of the FIFA contest, he remained in their midst, played football in the garden with them all and laughed along at tea (perhaps as clueless as L & I about what was funny).

Eliza

Eliza’s build-up to the 11+ began in earnest with a practice test at a local secondary school on the morning of Gabe’s party. She thought she coped ok with two papers, but less well with the third as she was waiting to have a query answered for a long time. She kept in the background during the afternoon and claimed her right to a reward stating that for not annoying the boys at the party she should have a treat on Sunday. I took her swimming.