Monday, October 31, 2011

Black Death in Three Acts

This last week or two we have been trapped in some kind of perfect medical storm. Absolute craziness has gone down. The idea of relaying all the details gives me a nervous twitch, so I'll just give you a few vignettes that paint something of a general picture.

When Ivy Channeled Linda Blair

Ivy's croup settled this week into a standard-issue miserable feverish snot-festival. She passed the virus onto Keith whose body morphed it into an evil, scary, proper influenza complete with shivering and raging temps and then, by Thursday, a full overnight of vomiting and nausea. Next morning Keith was a shambles, I was exhausted and Ivy was looking shabby. Poor Ted was full of three-year-old beans and climbing the walls. Nobody had the energy to play with him.

Keith staggered out to lie on the deck in the thin sunshine, while I fed the baby in the bedroom. 'Muuuuuum, ' Ivy moaned, 'I neeeeeeeeed youuuuu.' 'Just five minutes, ' I begged. 'I'm feeding George.'

Suddenly there was a strange, loud barking yawp. I knew it was Ivy and was up out of my chair and down the hall before I could think. (I dread to imagine what happened to my nipple.) Poor Ted got under my feet in the hallway and I sent him flying. In the lounge I found Ivy throwing up. The urge must have come on her suddenly and violently, because she was running in freaked-out circles around the room, spewing in a centrifugal arc.

I thrust the baby at Keith and tended to the vomitron. Teddy was weeping bitterly and we were running late. I had to dress Ted, pack him up for day-care, clean up the crime scene and set up my two invalids to look after themselves while I made it to our doctors appointment.

I had not yet had coffee, washed my face, cleaned my teeth. Repeat. Not. Coffee.

(Ivy and Keith display their sick-bed princess craft. Ivy has gone for after-5 glamour while Keith's frock speaks of Mary Tyler-Moore-ish 1963 gal-about-town whimsy.)

When I Wanted To Kick My GP Up The Cranny

Ivy's allergy test results were in. I explained to my GP that Ivy wasn't with me to pick them up because she was home with the Black Death. When I asked the doctor about what point I should worry about flu, she had a sort of freak-out about being asked to diagnose at a distance. I said I understood, but that Ivy had been to emergency twice that week, had a giant tick removed, suffered a series of hives and swellings and was now chucking her guts up. The doctor gazed at me stony-faced. But she's still your patient, I thought confusedly. This is her appointment. She's not here because she's too sick. We sat in silence for a little while. 'Well, she's got an egg and milk allergy', she told me off-handedly, and then, as a final salvo: 'And you look like you're going to cry.'

When I Failed To Get A Urine Sample

Saturday morning, Georgette spiked a temperature of 38.6. I rang a health-line to check how to manage a baby fever and they said it was Georgette's turn to hit the hospital. We didn't make it home until Sunday afternoon, after they admitted her for observation and ran a series of blood tests. Fever in babies under three months can get serious very quickly and they had to rule out meningitis and other nasties. Roll on Saturday night on a lumpy fold-out armchair, reading New Idea and eating mystery casserole.

Before they would let us leave on Sunday I had to 'catch' a urine sample. This involves holding the baby on your lap, watching for action and catching the wee in a specimen jar when it appears. This is much harder than it sounds. I stared unblinking at Georgette's nethers for an hour-and-a half. I sang every water-related song I could think of, from 'Islands In The Stream' to 'By The Rivers Of Babylon.', but I failed to catch a wee. (I do feel confident that I could pick my daughter out in a line-up though.) Eventually the nurses attached a plastic-bag apparatus. So there we sat, me and the George, on a peeling vinyl armchair; she nude from the waist down with a swinging plastic bag in place, and me in yesterdays clothes, watching the Celebrity Apprentice. 'George,' I said, 'I think we've both lost our dignity.'

This week, things are looking up. Although I feel a little ground-down, I have only low-grade cold symptoms. Last night I made an egg-free cake, decorated it with a giant chicken with a cross through it and we hoofed it down while watching Punky Brewster (season 1.) Nobody threw up. Not a one. Happy times!

And alls well that ends well with little baby loved-a-lot.


  1. Someone better be sending you lot a huge lotto win and a flying island manned by James pronto.

    (and the GP sounds like a gormless arse)

  2. Oh Hell. HELL to the max. Just remembered I didn't reply to your lovely post-bonnet email (which made me wet my pants laughing, should've read THAT to George while waiting for the wee sample!) because we came down with that shitty shitty flu ourselves. Shakes. Rattles. Snots. Baby waking every hour at night in her fevers. Eldest kid did nine rounds of vomiting all over the carpet. Thank HECK it is OVER. Wish I could write something half as funny as you after such an experience - not that that is much of a consolation prize, being able to write an amusing blog post while life goes to crap, but it's something!

  3. man oh man...hugs all round!! where did you get punky brewster?? matildas nickname!! we'd love to watch!! xxoo package in the post so keep eye out xx00

  4. When the highlight of your day is "nobody threw up", you need to have some big fat happies coming your way. May the rest of your life be a healthy, hassle-free dream.

    Also, the moment I saw Keith's craft doll I thought "Cool! A karate doll with a pink belt!"
    I think that says more about me than it does about Keith.

  5. Worse than anything is the fact that nurses can 'express' bladders if they need to, and not force the poor long suffering mother to sit awkwardly watching her daughter's girl bits for 90 mins.
    But maybe you won't want to know that at this point....

  6. i feel that i shouldnt use the F word in a comment, but honestly can't think of anything else to say.
    i will send you my killer awesome vegan chocolate cake recipe. it's egg free and easy to boot.

  7. Oh. My. Word. This is hideous (and terribly effective contraception). Sending huge hugs.

  8. You are a miracle worker. And the most amazing thing is that you manage to make it a funny, feel good story after it's all said and done! I am in awe. (And glad to see that all did really end well. Here's to a much better week.)

  9. I don't know if it's entirely wise of you to make such circumstances sound sooo funny - it almost makes me forget to sympathise. But not quite - it sounds like shit on a stick over there mate. May your vomit-free days go on and on and on...

  10. You deserve a medal for getting that that, sanity and humour intact.

  11. Some GPs are special aren't they?

    You never fail to make me laugh.

    Out of the grey, your humour is a powerful weapon to wield. I love reading you Rach. x


Thanks for talking to me. I don't got cooties. Oh, except for when I got cooties.