It’s been a hard day’s night. In Beatles-speak, I should be sleeping like a log.
Instead, I’m restless. A jangle of nerves. High on adrenalin from the past three days. Stress sitting on my right shoulder, strain on the left…
You see, our son Caleb was in hospital since Valentine’s night. This time, a double whammy of his ‘regular’ asthma attack, plus a side serve of pneumonia.
One minute he was playing at his cousin’s birthday party. A few hours later, we were rushing him to Emergency.
He’s had acute asthma for three years now. The staff at our local hospital know his familiar little face. Been there, done that too many times to count. So you’d think I’d know the drill by now.
You’d be wrong.
In hospital, I was the epitome of efficiency. The nurses and doctors (who, it must be said, are beyond super-superlatively amazing!) praised my calm…
But now that we’re home, my emotions are scrambled eggs.
My coping mechanisms aren’t, well, coping.
There’s the minutiae of our daily lives to deal with: the dishwasher to be stacked, school books to be ‘contact papered’, garbage to be taken out, ‘whites’ to be separated from ‘brights’, teeth to be flossed…
But I can’t seem to focus on anything; my thoughts flit about like butterflies with ADHD. I don’t even want to chat with the husband; I know I’ll snap at him.
And then come the questions – whirling dervishes in our minds:
Mum, what’s pneumonia?”
“Can children die from asthma?”
“Why does that medicine taste yucky but this one tastes yummy?”
I ponder; I wonder:
“Could we have done anything differently?”
“Am I reading the signs wrong?”
“Are our genes to blame?”
I find that I can deal with the physical strain of my kids getting sick:
Being jarred awake by the three-hourly alarms to give Caleb his Ventolin (takes me back to those breast-feeding nights!)…
Disinfecting every conceivable surface at 2am when Caitlyn vomited her guts out…
Bringing order back into our lives when sickness derails our routines with a ‘Who cares?’ toss of her head…
Like most parents, I ride out these speed bumps on auto-pilot.
It’s the emotional upheaval of seeing my kids ill that gets to me.
Perhaps it’s the helplessness of not being able to ease their pain…
Perhaps I’m feeling sorry for myself…
Perhaps their sickness makes me come face-to-face with my own unspoken fears and vulnerabilities…
Or perhaps the emotional bond that connects me to my children is far more tenacious than the umbilical cord we once shared.
So tell me, were you a sickly child? Or do you have one? Have you ever been admitted to hospital?