We have just lived a lifetime in two weeks. It all started two Saturdays ago, when she banged her lip after falling on the tiles. There was blood everywhere. We both freaked out. We had never seen her blood before. The other parents of boys giggled at the hapless couple, who were eager to rush to ER.
On Sunday she was fine, climbing up couches, her normal tricks. And then the game changer Monday. Extra clingy. Refusing to eat or drink. GP visit. Throat infection. Antibiotics. Fevers. Calling Nana to come over. Vinegar baths.
Two weeks later, following a battery of tests, Doctors still can’t say conclusively what caused the meningitis. There was no evidence of a bacteria in her spinal fluid, but the symptoms (stroke) were consistent with bacterial meningitis.
Then we heard about two kids at a public hospital who presented with similar symptoms: stroke, entero virus in the throat swab but not in spinal fluid. So now they think we may be dealing with a super bug virus 😳 Doctors need to quit practicing and start performing! We want facts not conjecture!
We want answers. We leave the hospital with more questions. But at least we have our baby back! She plays all her favourite make believe games. She laughs. She cries. She asks for daddy at night. She throws tantrums. Plays to her audience. She is more strong willed than ever, but she is going to need that tenacity to get herself through to recovery.
She is able to bend the bad arm at the elbow. Its like she is slowly regaining strength from the wrist up. She is walking normally but still has some trouble with balance.
She is severely traumatized by the whole experience: fevers, listlessness, hallucinations, pain, headaches, hospitals, ambulance, drips (she has had one in her right hand at admission: dislodged, causing swelling; re-sited to left elbow with a splint: swelling again; re-sited to right foot, bandage got wet in the bath; finally re-sited to left foot), vitals checks at all hours, medication, examination, screaming babies!
And horror of horrors: nurses and anybody with a stethescope 😱 She is petrified. They removed the drip in anticipation of discharge, she got to leave her room for the first time, but at the mere sight of a nurse she hid behind my legs, in tears, I had to carry her back to the room. She is even scared of the hostess (with the mostest) who brings us food!
Only one nurse, Neani (a Venda name meaning “to give”) was able to give baby medication orally. I could sit and watch for a change. We never saw Nurse Neani again 🧐
But finally we get to take our baby home and shower her with love, comfort, empathy, understanding. I have a plan to help her deal with her nosocomephobia. I want her to realise the miracles that are being performed in her life. To come to terms with her fears (the things she saw when she was hallucinating) and overcome them.
This experience has brought us closer as a family. But more importantly, it helped me learn my baby, and overcome my own fears of inadequacy. I can administer medication. Handle nappy rash and a squirmy pain stricken toddler. Comfort her when the nurses come. I know when she is in pain. I know when she is sleepy. I am like Santa Mummy. We are in tune with each other. I am mummy. Mummy is me. I am her mummy. I am what she needed. I am enough.
But first, I need to go home and crash. We all do. Its hectic living a lifetime in two weeks!