Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Freddie's Mum

I blame Freddie's mum myself.

Her father was a GP we were told. Unfortunately he hadn't appeared to have passed on his medical knowledge to his daughter, and so when Freddie aged three got chicken pox, she sent him into nursery school.

This would have course have been fine, except for the fact that the nursery school that he attended was also attended by ED. Freddie's mum arbitrarily decided that it would be fine for the whole nursery school to get chicken pox in one go. That was of course very generous of her, but some of us were less decided as to the appropriateness of the timing.

For me personally, being heavily pregnant with Sensible, with ESOS aged just nineteen months, the timing was perhaps a little off.

ED went down with it first, just in time for her to not be allowed to visit me me in hospital with Sensible. She and ESOS had to stand outside with Hubby and I lifted Sensible to the window to show her to them. It wasn't my happiest moment of motherhood. My own post natal room was nice. Even if it was for isolation purposes.

Next of course came the injection. The Human Varicella Zoster vaccine - to build up antibodies, as neonatal chicken pox is very dangerous.

"It won't stop her from getting it, but it may help," explained the Doctor.

"Please could I have one of those too?" I asked.

"Why?" said the female military doctor.

"Because I have never had chicken pox, and I may give it to her."

The Doctor looked Heavenwards.

"You are breastfeeding." She said.

"Yes." I said.

"So you will give her your antibodies."

"But I haven't got any antibodies against it. I have never had chickenpox." I protested.

My mother was visiting. She adamantly confirmed that I had never had chicken pox. The Doctor smiled at me in that "sympathetic, poor woman, just had a baby" sort of way, that sort of "she clearly doesn't know which side of her brain is which any more" sort of way, and in that "don't be so stupid love, I'm related to Freddie's mum, and I KNOW that everybody is exposed to chicken pox" sort of way.

"Neonatal chickenpox is very dangerous." She concluded, pulling the needle out of Sensible. "If you get it, it is one of those things."

I started to protest again that I was likely to give it to her, because she was exposed to me, and I was breastfeeding her, and that therefore instead of giving her my antibodies, I would instead give it to her.......... My voice wasn't being heard. She had packed up her belongings into her military style doctor's bag, and was gone from my isolation room.

ESOS got chicken pox on my return from hospital.

I got it when Sensible was 10 days old. I wasn't offered an anti viral drug, because it was too expensive to give to someone in a non high risk category. Apparently, a mother of three children, one of ten days old, and the other two recovering from an illness isn't vulnerable... It's not a nice thing for an adult to get though, especially ten days after giving birth. That was an interesting breastfeeding experience...

When, at three weeks old Sensible was rushed into hospital, this time to Queen Mary's in Roehampton, so as to be given intravenous acyclovir, it was no great surprise. I had of course given it to her, lock stock and barrel and I was in a different hospital, so I couldn't even gesticulate at my Army miss who had told me that this wouldn't be likely to happen....

Sensible, having been born sensible and stoical, coped remarkably well with the prodding and poking and jabbings over the next ten days. The maternal viewpoint was less desirable. Once, I just couldn't watch the procedure of changing over the cannula yet again as yet another tiny vein collapsed.

I was angry. Angry that it had come into our family at the wrong time. Angry at Freddie's mum. Angry at the Doctor who had refused to help me avoid having it, or at least suffering so much. Angry that I was not able to be given a drug to suppress it, so that my bout would not have been so bad, and .......... most angry that due to all those things that Sensible at three weeks was being subjected to a form of torture.

We all recovered.

As you do.

The torture techniques did pay off thankfully, and Sensible was well and healthy again quickly, and apart from the fact that she was the youngest ever recorded case of a very minor case of shingles in Northern Ireland two years later, has had no side effects ....... we hope.

Personally though I put on loads of weight and suffered from TATT (tired all the time) syndrome ... for the next ten years. I probably have TATT written all over my medical notes much to my various GPs' annoyance.

And I do of course blame it all on Freddie's mum.

Luckily for her, not only do I not live near her or know her, I am not sure that I ever even met her. I was just TOLD that it was SHE who brought the chickenpox into the nursery school...

So, when last week this strange rash appeared on my tummy, my immediate thought was that it looked like chickenpox.

I've had chickenpox though, so that's all right I thought.

More blisters appeared. It itched and drove me crazy, small as it was. And, by Sunday afternoon I was ready to collapse. I went back to bed and slept..... all afternoon, all evening and all night in various feverish states. I NEVER take a day off from work. But even Hubby, who also never takes sickies, told me that I was too ill to go in. So, I slept again.

My funny patch on my tummy was still itching, had largely scabbed over and was in fact possibly starting to subside. Hubby looked at it.

"It looks like chickenpox." He said. "Do you think it's shingles?"

We looked it up on the Internet. At first we found some pictures that looked like roof tiles. I knew I wasn't suffering from those. Then we found some more pictures, and for a forty something, as opposed to a seventy something with shingles, it looked seriously likely.

"We've got some Zovirax in the cupboard." Said Hubby. Put some of that on it. Now Hubby is not a Doctor, but he is a Cambridge scientist, and unlike the Medics who I acted in plays with at university, he spent considerably more of his time at college in classrooms, and considerably less of his time out of his head. And um.... he was by no means sober all the time either....

Needless to say, when it comes to science, I trust his judgement.

I put some Zovirax on.

By morning, the rash had reduced so much, that by the time I went to the Doctor, he was dubious that it was indeed shingles. He did however listen to my self diagnosis.... and did concur that the other symptoms made it more likely, and that I should definitely be off work.

Just think, if it weren't for Freddie's mum I wouldn't have written this blog today.

So... thank you Freddie's mum.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

All we can do is to think positively....

We have always called him the"Milky Bar Kid" because, just like the traditional "Milky Bar Kid" he has blond hair, glasses and a very cute "butter wouldn't melt in his mouth look." And, just like the "Milky Bar Kid", he always has a twinkle in his eye that just says, "I might get up to some mischief later.... but mostly Ill just be a nice kid."

Until two year's ago, when they moved away from here, I would regularly meet his mum in the playground. Regularly of course because, like me, she was always running into school with the MBK. We would all arrive sometimes just before the bell, but often just after. They, like us, often had no real reason for being perpetually late, other than the fact that her mind, like my mind is often full of "other" stuff, and she just needed to do twenty things prior to going to school... and think about a further forty.... and each every every task and thought all just takes a little bit longer than you think it will......

But she was great company and as friends we could always have a laugh about our complete inadequacy in the timings department. In a strange sort of way we possibly saw ourselves as slightly superior to "seriously on time mums". Of course, that was then. Once they moved away, and everyone else was "on time", I had to change my routines so that the children got to school on time. You see, as a late person, it is one thing being "late", but it is a different ball game all together being "last". I reckon that my lateness stems from being born three weeks early. By the time I die I should have caught up with those three weeks. It must be getting closer of course because I am definitely becoming more punctual as the years go on...

We have all kept in touch since MBK and his family moved away, and every so often we talk on the phone or we get together.

So, it was an ordinary phone call to start with.

"How are you?" I asked.

"In what respect?" said MBK's Dad.

Immediately I knew something was wrong.....

He put me onto MBK's Mum.

As the conversation progressed, I was told about how three weeks ago he had collapsed at school and how he has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.

He is just a normal, lovely, fun loving, easy going nine year old.

He has a wish list of things that he wants to do.....

It includes a trip to Legoland and a visit to the cinema to see the new James Bond movie. They are just ordinary requests for any little boy, because that is what he is.

A kid.

And that is what he should be allowed to be.

I went to the cupboard and found my Tesco vouchers. I calculated that I had enough points to send a normal sized family to Legoland, so I wrapped them up and enclosed them in a card. It's hard writing a card in such circumstances. You feel completely inadequate and... guilty for having completely healthy family members. But so grateful. So very grateful.

Hubby, a confirmed aetheist does every so often question the things that non aetheist's question. His questioning confirmed what I was thinking. My religious thoughts over the years have blown hot and cold. I believe, but what exactly I am not always sure.

"If there is a God," said Hubby, "How could he possibly be so cruel?"

"Not everything is perfect." I say. "Perhaps even God makes mistakes."

I cannot hold with the view that these things are done for a reason, despite my very Christian based schooling.

It puts everything into perspective.

All we can do is to think positively, and, if you believe, pray.

P.S. ...... If there is any possibility that you could tell others, please do..... So that we can have as many people as possible pulling together......... Thank you.... S