Today at the playground I cried.
I cried while watching a little girl, 18 months old, climbing, running across beams and sliding; full of energy and not a care in the World.
I cried because my two-and-three-quarter-year-old daughter used to be just like that.
I cried because the ladders Briannah used to scamper up were now like towering mountains. The swing bridge she used to run across was now dangling over a vast chasm that she feared to cross. The slide could only be conquered whilst snuggled up safely in her four-year-old brother’s arms. Every obstacle surmounted required a period of rest afterwards.
In the last three-and-a-half months, my daughter has been unwell for all but two days. Croup, upper respiratory tract infections, bronchitis, chicken pox, more croup, sinus infection and, most recently, severe shortness of breath and wheezing. Just as she appeared to be getting over one ailment, she was hit by the next one.
These health issues are nothing new, unfortunately. When she was 15 months old she had a febrile seizure. In the ambulance on the way to hospital she was given antibiotics for suspected meningitis due to the sudden onset of a rash. It wasn’t meningitis, but because of the antibiotics in her system, blood tests were unable to determine the cause.
Over the next few months I started noticing blueness on her hands and feet, and so began our journey to try to find the cause. Multiple hospital admissions and tests followed. A heart murmur was discovered and an X-ray revealed that she had an unusual shaped heart, but echo-cardiogram and ECG were normal. She was attached to a Holter monitor for two days, but just when I wanted it the most, she was inconsiderate enough not to have a blue spell. An EEG was also conducted to check electrical activity in her brain and it too was normal. Blood tests – oh my God there were so many of them – didn’t show anything unusual either. After months and months of tests, worry, regular check-ups, rushing to the hospital while she was blue only for her to be back to normal when we got there, documenting with photos and video for the Paediatrician to examine etcetera, it was finally put down to “Presumed Vasomotor Events” which she will hopefully grow out of. Through all of this my beautiful daughter was the model patient. She accepted all the tests without complaint, and quickly forgave after some of the more painful procedures. In between all this she had multiple episodes of croup, upper respiratory tract infections and viral-induced wheezing.
Does having an answer make me feel any better? Nope. Throughout it all my gut instinct has been telling me there is something still going on with her heart. It’s that same gut instinct that I trusted for years when working as a Paramedic. I will keep looking for answers.
After the non-stop illness of the last three months I have to confess that I’m struggling to keep it together. Usually I try to use humour to help me through, like when I wrote Tips for when your child is in hospital when she was being investigated for her blue spells. Lately, ‘though, the humour and general good feelings have been battling to find their way to the surface through the fog of worry, but there have been a few things that have really helped me.
1. A friend visiting us from Auckland noticed how crappy (my word) I was looking and prised a confession out of me that I was down to my last two pairs of pants that still fit me – maternity pants and 15 year old sweatpants. Going back to work hasn’t been an option while Briannah has been unwell, so money has been very tight and a new wardrobe for me just wasn’t in the budget. Soon I started receiving parcels in the mail of beautiful clothes. My friend had been trawling through second hand shops to find functional, fashionable clothing (a lot of which had obviously never been worn) and a couple of fancy outfits so that if I did ever get the chance to go out, I could look good. I don’t think I can ever express to her how grateful I am, or what a boost it’s been for me to be able to look nice when out in public.
2. A special friend who I know is always there for me. Her youngest son has had major health challenges and heart surgery, so catching up has been impossible if my children are unwell, and vice versa. Thank goodness for telephone catchups.
3. I’ve rediscovered my naughty side thanks to The Bearded Iris and The Suniverse creating the Craft Whores competition. Creating something as simple as a leather vagina gear knob cover was so far removed from my normal day to day life that it put a little sparkle in my World. I guess it taught me that despite everything that’s going on right now, it’s okay for me to have some fun. I actually wasn’t interested in winning a prize, because I felt like the prize had already been handed to me, but then I got an honourable mention which made me happier than a happy thing riding the rainbow wave of happiness.
I lost a few readers when I got pornographic, but I gained a few more so it all evened out. My blog is an outlet for me to express myself so it’s veered off on a few different tracks. Writing has been hard for me lately so I hope that now you understand why, you’ll all stick around.
Lastly, if you see a Mum who looks a bit worse for wear, don’t be dismissive. A small gesture you make may have far reaching consequences for her. I am grateful that a few of the Mums at my son’s kindergarten have looked past my exterior and extended their hands in friendship. If only the rest were like them.
Sorry, I lied, that wasn’t the last word. This is:
If you haven’t seen someone for a few months and when you do they are wearing nice clothes and feeling good about themselves, don’t be like my brother-in-law and say, “You’re glowing. Are you pregnant?”
As always, I really value your comments so please, please feel free to leave one. And if you have had a similar experience with a child I would really love to hear from you.