This week has been a funny old week. Oscar’s been poorly.
Woah, I hear you shout, stop the presses, child in “gets sick” shocker!
Yes I know, I know. Children get sick all the time. Their noses run at the slightest thing; a cold, the cold, teething, frustration at being unable to get the lid of their click and click box. I hadn’t really thought about it until a few weeks ago, when a young and childless relative of a friend pointed out that every child round the table had a disgustingly runny nose and that none of us were particularly bothered about this. It’s just one of the facts of young childhood, you know like carrot puree or tantrums.
Anyway my point is children get ill. Oscar’s had a myriad of colds and even one bout of sickness bug, which may or may not have been RotaVirus. But he hasn’t ever been really ill. You know the kind of illness that has a proper name, or requires drugs other than Calpol (liquid paracetamol and every mothers best friend). I’m not really sure why this is. We go out almost every day. He mingles with other children at various groups. He drinks their drinks and eats their food. He came up to me at Toddler group a couple of weeks ago happily munching a chocolate biscuit, which I didn’t give him (I hope another adult gave him it from the coffee bar and that he didn’t just pick up a discarded one from the floor – or worse take it out of another child’s hands! How embarrassing!) He’s just a fairly robust little chap. I think this may be a trait he’s picked up from his dad. Despite being a smoker, Ben hardly ever gets colds and has only been really seriously ill once since I met him (Glandular Fever, 1998). Oscar has never had an infection, or needed antibiotics or ended up in hospital (quick touch some wood!)
This week, Oscar got Croup. Yeah I know, I didn’t really know what it was either and everyone in Ben’s office thought it was some kind of Victorian disease that urchins got from going up the chimneys. Actually its a virus that affects the windpipe and larynx. Only young children get it as their pipes are so narrow anyway (so for example if I catch the same virus I’d just likely have a sore throat & cold). In children it manifests in a mean cough and somewhat laboured breathing. (It can also result in such narrowed airways that the child needs steroids or adrenaline administered in hospital but I’m told this is only in extreme cases). What it is however is scary to see. It started on Tuesday, we went to the docs on Wednesday (who diagnosed croup, gave me a leaflet about the condition and told me to call an ambulance if Oscar was to turn blue!) and by Friday it was awful. I knew it was awful because the child, who when he’s tired or ill wont get sleepy but more hyper, sat on my lap, under the blanket, with his head on my chest and nearly fell asleep. That evening he coughed so hard he threw up all his milk.
When I had a few minutes I mentioned it on FB and once again a huge number of people came to my side, with offers of advice or solidarity. My neighbour offered us a loan of a humidifier, which we took her up on, other people offered to go out and get things for us. Another friend text me and explained the process they’d gone through when her son had croup. I was overwelmed with kindness and would like to say a big THANK YOU to you all!
As it turned out, Friday night was the worst of it. He hardly slept and Ben was a star with him, both through the night and then getting Oscar up at 5.30. By Saturday lunchtime I was starting to get a bit nervous as his chest seemed to be straining awfully hard. I text a paedeatric nurse friend for advice. She offered to come look at him. Then he ate his tea. First proper meal he’d eaten all week (scrambled eggs and tiny bits of toast) and it was like a new child had emerged. I cancelled the friend’s visit. How could it go from that to this in such a short time? Bloody kids!!!!!!! Scaring the bejesus out of me one minute and wanting to play blocks the next!
Our instinct as adults, as parents, is to protect our children. We spend hours researching illnesses and discussing safety measures and that’s brilliant. We should be knowledgeable about something so important. So it goes against nature to take a step back and remember how resilient a child can be. They have to be, they’ve had to survive this far.
He’s still sounds like he smokes 60 a day and has the ubiquitous runny nose, but my boy is doing grand. And I know this wont be the last scare he’ll give me. I know I’ll look back and think, “sheesh, remember when I got upset about that bout of Croup? That was jack compared to this!!”. But I have to remember he is a resilient little bugger and for that I am grateful.
Now, where’s that bottle of Calpol….