Monday, August 25, 2008

Just sit right down and you'll hear a tale

A tale of a fateful trip... What we have here is a confessional of maternal proportion. The good, the bad, the downright ergly.

I made THE single worst decision in my parenting career to date on Friday night. I brought the LGBB in to bed with us. I thought it would help. The poor kid had been really off (only way to describe it) all day Friday - pale and dazed-looking, not responding to all the usual things and just simply not herself. I took her to the doctor that afternoon and he told me she was more than likely coming down with tonsillitis. Okay, what do we do now, I wondered? What ho! We wait. We wait, said the doctor, until tomorrow and then if she gets any sicker, bring her back and we'll be able to see clearer what's going on.


So I took the LGBB home and began plugging her with Panadol and Nurofen, hoping like crazy that this was going to be just some 24 hour yucky cold/bug thing. I queried with the doctor if it was safe to give her these if she was not eating and having scarce fluids. Yup, he told me, it'd be fine for at least 3-4 doses. That gave us til Saturday afternoon, I thought naively, because Shirley she wouldn't wake that night - she must be so exhausted - and therefore, wouldn't be having any med's.

By 7pm, Steve and I realised we were going to be in for an all-nighter. What made it more interesting was, I was coming down with something too. Throat on fire, head like it was stuffed in a bucket (y'know, compressed, pressurised, whatever) and aches, stabbing pains and chills beginning to creep up my back, arms, thighs and into my hips. It was in this state that I made a really horrible remark to Steve, in front of the LGBB, that I am most ashamed of. Most ashamed :( I told him to *cough* fuck off. Fuck right off, I believe it was, actually. Over some female-perceived notion that, as a male, he was dithering about and not providing her what she needed, no matter how long I stood back and allowed him to try. I whispered it to him as I was sitting with her in our rocking chair and in the dimly lit room, against the backdrop of her gorgeous night time la-dee-dah music, I told her knight in shining armour to fuck right off. Klassy, non? I even did a bit of a Mastermind (remember that show?) trick and turned in the chair so we had our backs to him. God what a princess. I blame heightened pain and worry. Not that it's any real excuse. What made it worse was that Lolly, so delirious from not sleeping that day except for a couple of grabs so far and also beginning to really ail from whatever this was, drifted into a limb-jerking sleep in my arms and right as she did, she talked in her sleep. It made me burst into silent, self-berating sobs. Because she said, "Daddy..... go 'way." Oh God oh God :( Steve walked back in behind me moments later (see, he knew I needed him even though I told him to fuck off and what a man, because if it were me, I would've said, right back atya, asshole, and kept walking, doing a bit of a Tyra Banks-head wiggle butt-slap, kiss this, on my way out - see, again, a princess). And I turned the chair back around, face full of tears, "I'm soooo sorry. I didn't mean it." I told him what she'd said, drifting off, and he gallantly replied, "Well it could have been a statement or a request, you know, Lenny. I was leaving the room when she was drifting off." Yeah. Maybe. Saved by the husband.

So anyway, this one-to-two-hourly night waking began at 9.30 and continued until, sometime around 2am when she woke again, I went in and bundled her up in my arms, deciding she was bound to sleep more peacefully snuggled between her Mum and Dad.

Uh.... and that brings me to the worst decision I've made so far doing this gig. Ho deary me. What was I thinking? Instead of getting grabs of sleep in two or so hour lots, "sleep" for the rest of Friday night consisted of all three of us rolling around uncomfortably to avoid the person next to us. Much huffing and wailing and thrashing (and sweating) was had.

By 6am, Lol was sitting up. Absolutely over it. Crying and grabbing at her lower lip, hooking her fingers in it and wailing. I couldn't stand it, the meds weren't cutting it, there was obviously something quite terribly wrong. So off to the hospital we went. I was by now nursing a fever myself.

Another bloody useless idea, going to the ED, I'm sure many of you could attest. We knew before we left the house. We knew before we got in the car. We knew as we made the short drive to the emergency department that they'd do little to help. BUT... you still have to try, right? No stone left unturned and all that. Right. So we sat with the LGBB in the empty waiting room for over half an hour - not a bad wait, all things considered - and then had more waiting as shift changeover happened with the day shift doctors. Then more waiting after the nurse took the initial explanation (which you give to the Triage Nurse). Then more waiting after explaining the same thing for the third time to the doctor. Oh and one more time through, for good measure probably, to the head doctor after the doctor who saw us wanted to consult with him. AAAAAARGH.

And after all that? We were told to go home and keep up with the meds. That was it. Three hours of our lives we'll never get back. I don't know what I expected. That perhaps someone would give us a magic wonder pill that would cure her pain? Not too much to ask, was it?? I didn't initially think so.

So all Saturday, now all of us sleep deprived and me with increasing flu-like symptoms forcing me into bed by 6.30, we watched on as the LGBB thrashed about on the floor like a fish out of water every time her medication wore off. It was agonising, I'm sure, for her but just too much for me to stand by and watch. And by lunchtime that day, to make it agonisingly worse, she was refusing to take ANYTHING by mouth. Her fluid intake became dismal, but there were bouts of sipping of pear juice via a straw and some clear tea (honey and lemon).

Saturday night, by some miracle, she went to sleep fairly easily - okay, that's a tad misleading, Steve did have to sit with her still for 45 minutes (for us, it's normally a very simple story-read then tuck in bed, night-night kiss, lights out and don't hear from her for 12 hours) - but considering she was so poorly, we thought this was quite good. We fell asleep, exhausted, at about 7pm.

The fireworks began about an hour later. Fireworks to rival the Sydney Olympics extravaganza because, apparently, the Tinpot Junction cricket club was having, I don't know, a celebratory Trivia Night salute to Guy Fawks. Faaark me. So we were awake. On tenterhooks. And then she cried out. And then the dogs started barking at the banging. And then, it all stopped. Lolly was only crying out in her sleep. The dogs settled mercifully (normally they are impossible to stop once they start during fireworks). At 10.25, oh joy, the phone rang right by my head. Caller ID showed it was from a payphone. Who the hell do we know who'd be calling us on a payphone? I thought. And when the machine picked up, just as I slumped my aching body back down to listen, all I heard was a woman who said, "Did she mention sleep?" to someone, presumably, standing with her, before she grunted at his reply to her question and hung up. How odd. But how fitting she mentioned sleep. This sleep of which you speak, where can I buy it, lady??

But of all these things, none were more wretched than not physically being able to get to my wailing child. I was aching. But my head and my body were just not able to get me there. I was in nauseating, feverish stage, my body was wracked with not only maternal guilt at not being able to get up, but also disorienting pain. At around 4am, though, I literally forced myself up and down to Steve and Lolly - I heard her say "Drink??" on the monitor imploringly as I passed it so grabbed her cup on the way down. At least Steve would have something to give her and thankfully, she was apparently desperate enough right now to drink. It was overpowering her instinct not to inflict more pain on herself.

So another hourly waking night was had. By Sunday morning, the LGBB was pretty desperate and I was not prepared to go another day without a visit to a doctor again. So we managed to get an appointment at 11 o'clock that day.

"Hand, foot and mouth," she diagnosed. And so it was. By the end of Sunday, our poor little girl had lips and cheeks the size of a Hollywood celeb overdosing on botox. Ulcers in her mouth, on her tongue, inside her cheeks and lips. She has scratches on her chin from where she's pawed at her face. She pretty much hasn't swallowed since Friday night so we've been going through clothes (and drool rags) at a rate of knots. Washing is piling up everywhere as I haven't had the occasion to hang it out after it's been washed, even though it's needed immediate washing. The LGBB is fast running out of clothes, as every top we put on her is saturated down the front and on the sleeves within minutes from her avoidance of swallowing.

By Sunday night, our trickery to entice fluid to pass her lips was futile. Icy poles, milk, jelly, juice, warm "tea" (honey and lemon in boiled water), plain old water... all out. Our efforts to bypass oral pain relief and head straight for the suppository were in vain. Or should I say, they were a strain. More for the LGBB. And did she what.... she didn't stop straining until she shot out that nasty little pill. If only she knew the relief it would have brought her.

I phoned the nurse-on-call hotline too and went through our situation with a great nurse called Anne, a mum of five, who soothed my self-doubt and said I had been doing all the right things, that the alarm bells in my head about how little she'd been drinking that day compared with what Steve was turning into silver linings, was correct. "A mother's intuition is most powerful," she confirmed to me. She also told us that, basically, our crunch time to get her fluid intake way higher was Monday night, "otherwise she'll have to go on a drip".

We managed to all get something more resembling a full night's sleep last night, which is one mercy, when we dosed the LGBB up on Phernergan just so she could rest and hopefully sleep some of the virus off. She managed about 6-8 (but still broken two or three times) hours, which was good.

This morning, her wellness within herself was shining through more - there were more attempts to make conversation and glimpses of a very lispy, dribble-clogged Lolly appeared - but her ulcers and spots are at their worst now. I think they will begin to pass within the next 24 hours.

What is more pressing is that she is currently still standing at only one wet nappy for all of today. Not good. I am waiting for her to wake - she just resettled, with a little of my assistance, as she cried out but really did not want to get up yet and given that she hasn't been shown much mercy on the pain front so therefore has been unable to get any decent sleep, I've allowed her to keep sleeping and she's drifted back off again, poor wee mite - so I can try my next trick: a hot chocolate with dunking biscuits. A new delight that I had hoped to save up until she was at least ten. But hey, when illness calls for it, you pull out the big guns.

I need to duly acknowledge the phone and email support I have had from my close circle these past couple of days. Especially grateful this time, am I, for having you there. As one dear friend said earlier this afternoon, "I know what you're going through, I can handle anything, anything except when they cry in pain." And she's right. My eyes pricked with tears then, for it is that - seeing your child writhing in front of you, stiffening their body, rolling and contorting in such obvious pain and when you bundle them into your arms, they flail and you realise you're only making it worse so you lay them back down and just have to sit by.

I did this yesterday morning and waited until the LGBB had exhausted herself some more. This all happened after a dose of Panadol so she has obviously been experiencing some chronic pain which, alas, not even the comfort of her dummy in this instance could relieve. When she had stopped flailing about so much, I chose my moment to ask her for a cuddle - as if I needed it (which I seriously did) - and she blessedly stretched out her arms. It had been hours and hours since she had wanted me, Daddy has been her comfort shoulder of choice this weekend and I am so, so glad she wanted one of us at all. I think I would have been quite beside myself by now if she had been rejecting both of us, leaving us helpless while she just went through it on her own. And so I picked her up, cradling her on my crossed lap on her bedroom floor. She looked so much like a big girl, lying there with her long golden hair falling down to the floor. Gazing up at me with such a tired, drained face, I spoke straight to her and let her know for the first time that Mummy really didn't like seeing her this way. That it was very upsetting for her and for Mummy and Daddy as well, that we were so sad we couldn't make the pain go all away. She listened. To all of it. It was as much for her as it was for me. But I was honest with her. A policy I want to instil in her and have her know it's a trait she can trust in me.

We're sort of shattered right now, as at Monday afternoon. Today, there has been barely more than, I'd say, 3-500ml drunk all day. No food. Copious diarrhoea and one wet nappy at 9am. We are staring down the barrel of the IV drip if things don't change when she wakes. Please wish me luck. Steve has gone back to work - for respite more than anything, no doubt, poor beggar, he has been nurse to both of us for much of the weekend - and as our one saving grace retracted their offer of support and hands-on today, we have been left to fend for ourselves again. I was so hoping their involvement would entice the LGBB to drink, but I guess understandably, they don't want to risk becoming infected as it will throw them out for a few weeks (even if they don't get it, I think they can pass it on still? Not clear about this).

I've been writing this over the past three days. It's good to get it down and out. I think we need a big lie down and a family holiday after this. And me? Well, I'm over the worst of it. I'm sure of that *winces hopefully* The head is still sore and stuffy. The aches are still there, especially in my joints, but it all feels like it's subsiding. Panadeine is at least being more effective today. I am certain I will be back on deck tomorrow, in full command of the flight deck for my little one.

So. We're contageous. We're kind of feral. Don't come within ten paces. We may bite.

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