This morning I wondered how many times I day I say 'I'm still here, George!' to this baby who is always happy perched on my hip, but complains hotly every time I move a metre away. 'I'm still here, George!' I say, over and over, as I try to wash up or move a pile of laundry uselessly to another pile and she squawks angrily. 'I haven't gone anywhere!'
Today I took her to the Childrens Hospital for a neurosurgery check-up. Sudden, painful flashes of memory pop up for me every once in a while, but generally, Keith and I don't think much about George's accident any more. She seems so well to us; so bright, so normal. According to the Brain Injuries Unit, a baby with a head injury like she sustained can start to show problems later, when language is appearing, so she remains under their care, and will be seeing them again for a full assessment at eighteen months. Problems aren't likely, but they are possible. Also, her chance of developing epilepsy has increased to about one in twenty - significant - but still a highly unlikely event. We can't change any of these murky possible futures, so we choose to dismiss them.
Today's appointment was about making sure that her fracture was not what they call a 'growing fracture', or one that is healing wrong. Full marks for Georgie today, I'm delighted to say. Absolutely no problems. The doctor said that George was very cute, and I told her that I had suspected as much, but was happy to have it clinically verified. So she wrote on George's hospital notes: 'remains exceptionally cute.' She was great, this doctor. The flip side, however, of this vivacious neurosurgeon came when she applied her enthusiasm to talking the medical student sitting in next to her through Georgette's brain scans.
Bear with my dodgy neuro translation here, but it went something like this: 'See here, ' she said, ' You can see the fracture spreads across the dura (?)but if it had split the whole dura there, it would have been blood everywhere, bad news! See you later! Also, the fracture here misses the (another brain bit...) but if she'd cracked that, the brain could have squeezed out right through there.'
I sat, with my warm fat baby squirming in my lap, speechlessly looking on as the doctor clicked around different perspectives of her little skull, cracked across the top like an eggshell. We said our goodbyes, and we left, walking past the toddler with the misshapen skull, and the siblings playing in toy cars, and sets of parents quiet and tense. We walked past the little boy I had winked and made faces at as we waited at the admin desk. He was impassive, and his grandmother gently told me he was blind.
It's a mixed bag, visiting the Children's Hospital. A great walloping serve of gratitude and fear and relief and nerves and horror and compassion.'There but for the grace of God go I, ' my mother drummed into us all as children, and every time I visit this place I remember those words, with a sort of queasy, 'Sliding Doors' feeling of how things could have been. We absolutely dodged a bullet with this accident, I think.
Still here, George. Still here.