Wednesday, 12 July 2017
When you have children your world changes. For the better, I might add. They enrich your life and fill it with moments and adventures that you never imagined. Your days are full. There is a routine and, especially when they are very small, their needs are great. It is all consuming but I personally, wouldn’t change it for the world.
Then suddenly, something happens in your life. A house sale, a house sale falling through or in my case, sickness and a death in the family. Suddenly, you have to fit this routine into an alien situation. I first experienced it when my dear Dad became terminally ill. We were told that there was nothing more that could be done. He was gone within 3 weeks. We dropped everything: the viewings of our flat had to go on hold, work cancelled, all of the baby stuff we had hidden in our car for viewings was dumped in our hallway. With our 8 month old baby in tow, we literally filled bags with stuff and ran out of the door. I, in the end moved up to my Dad’s in Derbyshire for 3 weeks. My husband had to go back to work during this time so I was left to look after my girl and be there for my Dad on my own. I found it very difficult to spend enough time with him as my baby needed me. I was still breastfeeding at the time. She was amazing. I couldn’t have got through it without her. That smile and that giggle got us through and was a comfort to us all.
We were all with my Dad when he died. It was lovely having such new life in a room full of sadness and grief. Dad passed away at 6:30pm. I realised that I had to get on and do bath and bed. So, life started up again. When she was asleep, I rang the funeral directors and had a good cry. Needless to say, my daughter didn’t stay asleep so she was there when Dad was taken away. I bid him adieu with my little girl in my arms.
Fast forward nearly 18 months and we are going through a similar situation but with my Grandad. At 97, he is dying of Prostate Cancer and a piece of Shrapnel from the 2nd World War, has shifted and ulcerated his leg. It really is very cruel. We have watched him deteriorate and it all came to a head last week. Only this time, my daughter is 2. She walks, talks, needs proper meals and one decent sleep during the day. She is also becoming increasingly emotionally aware so one is a little more hesitant about taking her into certain situations. Luckily, Grandad was placed in a hospice. A wonderful place of peace and tranquility, with truly amazing nursing staff who not only care for him but the family around him. I only wish that we had had this for my Dad. Mum rang me on Monday and said that I should see Grandad sooner rather than later as his condition had deteriorated somewhat. We decided to go yesterday, and take our daughter. All three of us went. We got to say goodbye even though he was semi conscious, and spent precious time with him. We set up camp in the family room and spent the day there going in and out of his ward and looking out for Spike the cat who sleeps on the patient’s beds. My daughter was very taken with Spike.
I didn’t really think about where I was taking her. It seemed wholly appropriate. And she was brilliant. As my husband said, “She made a lot of people smile today.” In a place of sadness, a place where people go for respite, where people go to die, a little girl in a navy party dress and party shoes (her choice), collecting snail’s shells and pebbles brought a little bit of sunshine to many. I can not thank the staff at St. Catherine’s Hospice, Crawley enough for the care that they have provided for my Grandad. Somehow he is still battling but he should be at peace either tonight or if there is someone looking down on him, even as I write this I hope he has been released from his anguish. Cancer is a long, drawn out and painful death even with the best palliative care. The nursing staff carry out their duties with such professionalism and dignity. I honestly don’t know how they do it.
I have said my goodbyes. I shall not see my Grandad again. It was terribly sad. I sat there holding his hand thinking, ’What a life.’ This is a man that fought in the second world war, survived two injuries and the two year journey to get back to the UK. He survived three nights lying on the slopes of Monte Casino, having been shot in the leg. He lay there, able to hear the German line. He shouted out “Hilfe”, “Help!” in German, which he had learnt at school and this saved his life. They took him into their medical tent, patched him up and took him to an Italian hospital. The theatre of war is a very different place and I very much doubt that such humanity would prevail amongst enemies nowadays.
I know that my Grandfather will leave this world having lived life. He has seen it at its worst but he has also experienced some wonderful things and seen its beauty. Wherever he ends up in the next chapter, I know that he will truly be at peace. The world will have lost a true gentleman. I was privileged to have known him and my daughter was so lucky to have had a Great Grandad. In the words of Mr. Shakespeare,
‘He was a man, take him for all in all. I shall not look upon his like again.’
Tuesday, 4 July 2017
You know, it was the only the other day that I was thinking how nice it was that the summer has now arrived and we have walked out of the fog of winter bugs. We have moved away from constant runny noses, pockets filled with old tissues that have dabbed a small pair of nostrils so many times that it has started to disintegrate and make tissue snow. We have moved away from hacking coughs that keep small people up all night and the consumption of Calpol has gone down. I was thinking, when my small one is well she sleeps, eats and is happy and joy to look after. Stupid cow. Ofcourse, reflecting on all of this and being slightly smug about it has really bitten me on the arse. I think about 24 hours later my daughter woke up in the middle of the night with a raging temperature. Myself and my husband thought nothing of it and gave her some Nurofen which seemed to work and packed her off to her lovely childminder the following day. Luckily, she was only doing a half day and it happened to be during that ruddy heatwave. I picked her up, popped her down for a nap and put a wash on. Nearly two hours later she woke up and was panting, hot as the frickin sun and very distressed.
We had workmen in and I had an electrician asking me questions at the time, as I watched my daughter’s temperature rocket above 39 and checking her mottled skin. I have the guidelines for Sepsis on my phone and I glanced down the list of symptoms. You don’t mess around with something like that so I texted my lovely doctor friend and she said get her checked out, go with your instinct. Great advice. Let’s go to A&E. I went into coping, mum mode. Clear head, pack a bag, leave keys for the electrician, take nappies, change of clothes, water, a blanket just in case we have to stay in and some snacks. I called my husband’s school and off we went. Me trying to stay calm with a very unhappy little lady in the car seat holding a shopping basket with a thermometer in it. That’s what she wanted to take.( Atleast, it wasn’t a piece of citrus fruit. Her latest obsession. Hold a piece of citrus fruit, wrap it in a flannel and pretend it’s a baby. I’m not concerned. Not worried in the slightest..) Got small one, paraphernalia and stroller out of the car, checked in and were sent straight through to the Paediatric A&E. Now, this happens to be air conditioned and on the hottest day of the year it was actually a damn good place to be.
We set up in a corner and my little girl pottered around in a nappy and her sandals. I laid it on a bit thick about the breathing and temperature so we were seen pretty quickly. About 30 mins later a nurse came up to us and told me that they were worried about my daughter’s heart rate. Just what you want to hear. I felt even sicker than when I took her in. They then presented me with a sample pot for my daughter to wee in as they needed a urine sample. Ha bloody ha. Trying to get a urine sample from a two year old that isn’t potty trained is nigh impossible. Eventually they gave me a bowl and I followed my nappyless daughter around like Zayn Malek’s PA for about two hours trying to catch a wee. I won’t bore you with anymore but she basically had a throat infection and it made her rather unwell. She also got a post-fever rash. My husband lifted her top one morning to be faced with a measles type rash all over her torso. Initially you lose your shit and then you calm down and realise that she always gets one after being ill. I was really worried about her. She didn’t want to eat, play or sadly, sleep. Oh, sleep. You cruel mistress. I was getting used to you but now you have fluttered away into the ether like my bank balance after a good old session on the ASOS sale. Paw patrol was back on (5th bar, right hand) and my sleep went down to about 3/4 broken hours for an entire week. The consumption of biscuits and cheese went up three-fold and that grey looking skin with wrinkles and flecks of grey sticking out of my hair came back. Good look, lady. Good look. I’ve also been donning a lot of “casual” wear ie. a jersey separate or two to cover up my sagging legs and arse as jogging on such little sleep was out of the question. It’s quite astonishing at how quickly one’s standards can go downhill. I think if I ever had anymore children I’d be a onesie Mum and turn up at the school gates in a pair of Faux Uggs from Primark and my pyjamas.
Anyway, two weeks has past and I think, so has the sickness storm. It has taught me to not even think about how well my child is and how lucky we are that we haven’t had chicken pox yet (it’s in our area so she’s bound to get it next week). Never be a smug Mum. Just take everyday as it comes and be very thankful for it. I’m thankful if I now get small one into bed without being kicked in the chest at nappy time. With illness has come a new phase of behaviour. This new model of my daughter comes with added tantrums, 15% more fury and 100 more decibels of screaming. She’s definitely been “upgraded”. My smugness, however, is going to stay in the basics range. I’ll go own brand I think. Don’t want to jinx anything now do I?
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