In terms of health, things have not been wonderful here at Team Fun HQ of late. Not only have I been having problems of the backside variety, but all of us were struck down by a very unpleasant (and in my case life threatening (that’s a joke about how useless us men are in the face of illness, funny eh?)) virus.
Mrs L., and I were both wiped out for a day or so, but for the kids it was like some sort of purgatory. Achy limbs, runny noses, coughs and for one very colourful evening projectile vomit! These would have been very trying times, but when you aren’t feeling even close to 100% yourself, it is an exceedingly nasty situation to be in.
Being the youngest and with the weakest immune system, poor little Jojo fared the worst, and was unhappy and grizzling even more than the other two kids. In order to try to get them to sleep, and to get out of the house, we thought we’d go for a drive.
This turned out to be only a slightly better idea than Abraham Lincoln deciding to go the theatre, as I realised too late that we were stuck in a fast moving tin can with three kids who didn’t want to sleep; they just wanted to cry at increasingly high volume and pitch! To make matters worse, Fraboo, who was sat behind me decided that kicking my chair whilst shouting loudly, would be the best game ever.
And I was hungry!
Have you ever been for a walk, and thought “ Wow this is lovely, I’m glad I went to the trouble of walking ten beautiful kilometres downhill,” only to realise, that you have to walk ten not so beautiful kilometres back? I had a similar realisation, when after 45minutes of driving, it occurred to me that it would be at least the same amount of time for us to get home. I briefly considered quietly taking my seatbelt off and diving out of the door, but it was cold and wet outside, and I was wearing my best jeans.
As soon as the opportunity presented itself, we turned back. To demonstrate his approval of our change in direction, Jojo performed a technicolour yawn of almost biblical proportions. It was so voluminous that as we went around even gentle corners, an unsettling sloshing sound could be heard. What followed could quite possibly be called, if not a minor miracle, at the very least a medical marvel.
Mrs L. and I had been enduring, if you recall, blocked and runny noses. We hadn’t been able to smell anything for the past two days (thank goodness as I’d cooked dinner the previous evening), yet I was still able to catch much more than a whiff of the freshly expelled vomit which was swilling around in the rear footwell.
By this point Jojo was about as upset as I’ve ever seen him, and using feats of contortion employed by the parents of young children the world over when driving , I tried to comfort him by stroking his head. It was then that I felt his temperature. He wasn’t just warm, he was hot. Sahara at midday hot.
Now I really wanted to get home and in a hurry, but our progress was hindered by a sightseeing tour judging by the pedestrian speed at which the car in front of us was travelling. Quite how the driver was able to see anything was incredible. I overtook him on the motorway and as I glanced through the driver’s window I saw what I initially mistook as an off duty garden gnome. He was peering over the top of the steering wheel through monumentally thick glasses. Judging by the look of his specs, I’d have felt safer for the road going public with Mr Magoo behind the wheel!
Needless to say, it took us quite a lot longer to get home than would ordinarily have been the case. When we did finally get back, Jojo had gone ominously quiet and his breathing didn’t sound like normal. We took his temperature and it was an alarming 39.6⁰C.
This caused me a bit of a dilemma. On the one hand, I thought (read that as every fibre of my body was telling me) I should be taking him to see a doctor, but on the other, I didn’t want to be one of those parents who goes to the doctor about “a bit of a cold”. Oh the delights of being English: I just didn’t want to be a bother!
I reached a sort of compromise with my conscience and phoned Plunkett line. For those of you who aren’t familiar, it is a children’s health helpline. I have phoned them twice before and on both occasions they told me to “Calm down Mr Longdon,” and then in a simultaneously exasperated and embarrassed tone “You really need to stop crying now Sir. It really isn’t helping anyone” I resolved that this time round there wouldn’t be any blubbering.
To cut a long story short, once I’d described Jojo’s symptoms to the lady on the end of the phone, she politely asked me what I was doing on the phone and why hadn’t I already taken him to the hospital? And so it was, that after wiping the many tears from my eyes, I bundled him into the car, and drove there as hastily as I could. Unfortunately, this was nowhere near as quickly as I would like as the bloody gnome (or another of his ilk) had drifted into our street, and was going for a leisurely drive in the same direction as me. He clearly had a malfunctioning car as his indicators didn’t seem to work. I’d heard that there was a virus which had been infecting the electrical systems of a number of cars locally and didn’t want it to happen to mine and so tested the horn. Repeatedly!
I’m sure that you’ll be relieved to hear that my car isn’t suffering from the same malady.
We arrived at the hospital and I was expecting a pretty decent wait. There were several people in the waiting room, two of whom appeared to have life threatening stationary related lacerations (paper cuts).
Imagine my surprise when after telling the triage nurse what was wrong with Jojo, we were rushed straight through.
Many people I have spoken to, have told me how terrible this emergency department is, but I have nothing but gratitude for the speed and professionalism we were dealt with. Jojo was given fluids which he happily took and within an hour began to perk up. A clearly overworked nurse came to make sure we were ok, making sure I had a steady supply of tissues and at one point she even offered to hook me up to a drip to be rehydrated, after all of my emotional outbursts. She reassured me that she was happy with Jojo’s progress. After about an hour and a half, he was back to his normal self, making me look like “one of those parents”, but the doctor reassured me that we had made the right call.
All in all this is not an experience I would wish on my worst enemy, but it has taught me a few lessons. Firstly, take my children’s health seriously; bugger the social niceties and listen to my conscience.
Secondly always make sure I carry a couple of boxes of tissues. And finally, surrender my driving license before I get to 80!