Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Yuck! I've had enough of learning curves.

We are home and for the first night in weeks I can't sleep. There are no strangers coming into my room, no bleeps, no coughs, no panic jumps of awakeness, no soggy hospital cots to sleep in, no babies crying inconsolably in the next room, no electronic hums, and I am AWAKE!!! Lying in bed thinking about my blog of all things! Well, I have taken a bag of carrots from the fridge and I'm munching and typing and chomping and hopefully I'll get it all out in twenty minutes, fall into a beautifully restful slumber and be alert and astute in the morning.
(hmmm - fat chance).

But the important thing is that we are home after 15 nights. Alfie is much much better and we are all on the mend. Thank pants for that. I've learned so much recently that small bits of information are falling out of my ears.

Resilience. That's the most useful thing I've learned. We are resilient and we can cope with more than I imagined. It helps that everyone has been so kind and supportive - I'm in the kind of mood where I can be fine and strong and resilient when things are going well, but if someone takes my place in the queue I'm likely to throw my Tim Bits at them.

I've also learned that Alfie has an impaired immune system. And what this actually means is that it's easier for him to get very ill, and harder to get well. My friend tells me that she's got a really good naturopath and has helped her children (who have Ds) to stay well for a good while now. I shall wring her for information and share it with you too.

More stuff I have learned...
  • Don't hang out with sick kids if you know they are sick
  • Get a flu shot
  • Don't spray everything with anti-viral antiseptic spray because it actually impairs children's immune systems - lemon balm in a spray is better - as is a flu shot.
  • Give Alfie and Noah vitamin D
  • Wash your hands more
  • Get a flu shot! (Actually, Noah did have a flu shot and he still got ill - but I think it might have stopped Alfie from being so very precariously sick).
  • Chest physio is extremely effective for Alfie and if he gets pneumonia again I should make sure he gets it straight away - it's more important if you have Ds than for typical children.
  • Ear plugs are an essential item in hospital
  • Anti-biotics can cause runny stools which can cause weight loss, but pro-biotics from the health food store change this.
  • Hot steamy bathrooms help to runnify your insides and get rid of pneumonia. So do saline drops in your nose.
  • Lots of movement and activity is good too.
  • Nursing relaxes Alfie and opens up his airways (it also meant he didn't have to have his food via IV)
  • "Cough in the Trough, Sneeze on your Sleeve" - cough in the crease in your elbow and sneeze on your sleeve rather than on your hands so you don't spread your germs everywhere.
  • It pays to be interested and alert and take an active role in your child's medical care.
  • The nurses and doctors and students and therapists and physios and cleaners at the IWK hospital are very, very, very, good
  • It is good to be in a hospital where they aren't always short staffed
  • Going out in the cold doesn't make you ill as long as you are dressed up warmly enough.
  • Canadians don't put kisses on the end of their emails (x)
  • One of the hardest things has been helping Noah through this difficult time. The Child Life department at the hospital were incredibly useful. They brought toy medical kits and doctor and nurse puppets and just let him play. He worked through lots of his fears about Alfie and doctors and calmed down a lot. I'm going to do some more playing with him and Alfie now that we are home because he really isn't himself at the moment. Very tearful and upset. It's all so confusing having your mummy and brother away for so long when you are only three. And then having them back. I wrote a little picture book for him in hospital about Alfie and what was going on. I think I might do another one now for coming home.
  • If you eat too many carrots your tongue goes a bit numb. I'm off to bed. Wish me luck. x

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Blooming Heck: We're in hospital!

Poor little Alfie has pneumonia and influenza and we've been in hospital for the last 10 days - feels like an eternity! He's getting much better now but it was a bit dicey for a while. We've been living as if in a dream, just watching time pass on the clock but not really believing it. Day, bleep, night, bleep bleep, doctors rounds, bleep bleep bleep. This sort of thing is very hard on your heart. I need a sigh machine that can suck all my sighs out and replace them with something light and fluffy - giggles maybe.

Alfie's still on oxygen but they are finally able to reduce the amount and bless him, he's starting to sit up on his own. He's so smiley about it all - the rest of us are shattered though. His breathing was further complicated by sleep apnea, - I think his tongue is a bit big for his mouth and when he sleeps on his back it blocks his airway. Bleep bleep bleep bleep. His sats monitor is going off all the time. And I keep waking to find a room full of nurses and doctors. Bleep. With Alfie grinning at their funny masks. Bleep bleep.

And we bought a house last week too! I've only seen it once but it seemed fine and we couldn't get too worried about it with everything else that was going on. I think that was the most relaxed real estate purchase ever made. "Is it standing upright? Nice colour? OK I'm sure it will be fine".

We might be in here for another week or so, but I'm crossing my fingers it'll only be a couple of days. This hospital (IWK Children's Hospital) is great - all the staff have been exceptional - professional, friendly, on the case, interested, energetic, and kind. And talking of exceptional - my friend Susan - who has FIVE children of her own, including two who have special needs, volunteered to come and stay the night so I could have some time off!!!! How lovely is that! I am so touched. She's coming this evening for a few hours and I can't wait to get home to cook and put Noah to bed, and just chill out with Mat for a bit.

It's strange having the same light-hearted conversations over and over again ("what brought you to Canada?" "oh you've got some accent") with all the medical staff, and then bizarrely chirpy conversations with parents who are going through the most difficult times of their lives. ("how long have you been here?": "oh about three months" "have you got any other children?": "none that are alive") The contrast is too great sometimes, especially when you don't see anyone you know all day.

Alfie and Noah's Nan and Grandad are coming tomorrow! Yeh! I am so excited! Last time we saw them Alfie had nasal prongs to help him breath and was in hospital, and the time before that he was in intensive care. What bad luck that it's happened again. Well, at least things are on the up. I'll write more when we get home. Bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep.