When I was in my early twenties and in university (for the first time!) I bought my first Mac desktop. I was quite delighted to learn that one of it's quirky settings was that I could change the start-up tune it played when I switched it on. So, not content with the traditional "BONG!" I discovered that I could have my Mac sing, in a very deep mournful voice: "All I can see at the end of the tunnel...are the headlights of a fast approaching train...." My roommates and I found this to be immensely funny...for at least a week until they started to hate me. (It still took me quite a number of months to change it though as I found it funny for far longer...)
At the moment, I can't help being reminded of this rather mournful and black little tune because this month has felt a bit like that. First there was all of the usual stress of starting the new college term, getting back into commuting to Nottingham with Adam and living in two places at once, while transporting a toddler between the two. But then, he started to get sick - and when Adam gets sick, he does it with style.
First it was a cold which, in twenty-four hours, turned into a massive asthma attack that meant I was spending hours on the phone trying to get him out-of-hours medical attention before finally getting him to the hospital at midnight on Saturday night (that was a couple of weeks ago). A course of steroids, antibiotics and huge numbers of inhalers over the next few days sorted him out and a few extra hours in bed for me to recover from our midnight antics meant I was just about back on my feet again too.
Adam had just about recovered from that one when he started to vomit. This time, it was a spectacular tummy bug which left him wrung out, unable to eat, barely able to drink and clinging to Mummy for around three days. During this time, because he was completely unable to keep anything down, we weren't able to give him his prophylactic medication (which is designed to prevent asthma attacks) because it is mixed with yogurt before he goes to bed at night.
Last Sunday, he had just about stopped being sick, but by Tuesday lunchtime, he started to cough. It took less than twenty-four hours for this to develop into another massive asthma attack. A phone call from the college nursery during our formation group meeting had me throwing all of our clothes and possessions into the car as quickly as possible and speeding down the motorway to get him to the doctors. Unfortunately, the only appointment we could get was with one of the few doctors who we don't know well so who also doesn't know Adam's very complicated medical history. It was quite a frustrating appointment for me but in the end, she did reluctantly agree to give Adam more steroids but only at a reduced dose to what he normally has. Unfortunately, as the dosage of this medication is based a child's weight, reducing the dose only reduces the effectiveness.
Normally, once Adam starts steroids, the improvement is dramatic and, if you've seen the Calpol adverts, you would never know anything had been wrong as he behaves much the same way. Unfortunately, this time, whether because of the severity of the attack or the reduced dose of medication, Adam only went downhill. By the Thursday morning, he was just sitting on his knees in the middle of the lounge floor gazing blankly at the television and coughing continuously. Now in itself, this may not sound too bad but this wasn't "just" a cough - it was a deep, barking, bronchial cough that turned him inside out and was so frequent that he struggled to catch his breath in between coughs. Eventually, he was gagging and vomiting because the cough was so deep and so continuous.
I rang ShropDoc at 6:30am who immediately directed me to give him another huge dose of inhalers, on top of what had already been given and, if there was no improvement, to ring them back inside ten minutes. These additional inhalers, brought him up to a total of sixteen puffs of ventolin inside an hour an a half and there was no improvement. Another phone call to ShropDoc and we were bundling Adam up with a pre-packed overnight bag and rushing off to hospital. By 7:15am, he was having an emergency nebuliser, having already coughed his way into vomiting in the consulting room but even this made no difference. On this basis, Adam was admitted to the paediatric ward where we stayed throughout Thursday and Friday. Initially, Adam was being given 10 inhalers every half an hour, with very gradual reductions and it took until bedtime on Thursday before it was considered safe enough for him to be brought down to three hourly intervals and overnight before he could go four hours between.
We were finally able to come home late Friday afternoon and I hoped and thought we were over the worst of it, thinking there must be a light at the end of this tunnel....only to discover the lights I could see were just another oncoming train. By 10pm that night, both Adam and I were vomiting at regular intervals which continued throughout the night (I'll spare you the other details, but I'm sure you can work them out). By midnight, Chris was at Asda buying more cot sheets as we had run out and couldn't get through the laundry quickly enough. By morning, all of us were exhausted and, while Adam had thankfully finished emptying his tummy, he was still as wrung out as a limp rag. Thankful for Chris's ability to look after him, I stayed in bed for the day dizzy and sick. Today, I've managed to get as far as the couch to turn the computer on but that's about it.
So please, whoever controls the distribution of lights at the end of the tunnel - could our next one not be a train please? I think we've had our fair share already. Cut us a break, please?