The Bean has been sick for more than a month now. Fever, cough, cold, a bout of urticaria, an allergic reaction which gave her boils in her nose, her ear and her face, and a chance that she had an intestinal obstruction. And of course the ever present asthma.
She’s a fiery little spirit and apart from the days when she’d thrown up too much to be active, her sharp little tongue and sharper brain, kept us entertained and reassured that she was going to be okay.
She began class two a couple of days ago, but hadn’t been to school in weeks. So I finally gave in to her pressure and sent her to school. With her nebuliser in her backpack.
She can assemble it in a trice, and knows how to pack it up and fit it back in the case neatly too. As she slung her heavy bag on to her skinny little back, waved her fragile wrist cheerfully and set off to school, I felt my heart break into a million pieces.
No child should know how to do this. And no child should have to carry her nebuliser to school.
In other good (!) news, my mother slipped in the toilet yesterday and smashed her ankle. A little piece has separated and she might need surgery to see it through.
I teased her that this was text book old age – Slip in the bathroom and break a leg.
I sit here chewing my nails in worry as I surf the net for a ticket. I keep an eye on my phone in case the school calls saying the Bean needs to be sent home.
And all the while I wonder how people who have terminally ill patients, be they parent or child, manage to do this endlessly. Perhaps they make their peace with it.
All I know is that I’m emotionally wrung out.
Chhote Nana had his last surgery day before yesterday and they had to give him 8 times the dosage of anaesthesia that they give to regular patients. He now has 15 rods in his leg that they keep fiddling with, keeping him in a constant state of agony. Seven months and he’s not out of bed, nowhere close to walking.
I’ve lost count of the number of surgeries he’s had and I worry for Cousin K who has been with his father through all of them.
He’s only 23 and he’s been through more than most of us have experienced in a lifetime. Three of the family of four in hospital. One close to death.
We’re watsapping each other on the family group and the phone pings madly through the day and night. The US arm, the sleepless invalids, everyone is up at all hours. I suggest that our generation take a vacation once all the oldies have recovered. We deserve it. The parents chorus – Yes, you all do.
I’m busy checking on who has eaten, who is in pain.
Cousin K messages – I’m on hospital duty and Dada has had his breakfast.
I suggest something else.
And a weary – No one gives a rat’s arse about what I’m saying -is the response.
I giggle inspite of myself.
Yes, we’re highly irreverent.
My mother responds immediately – What nonsense, I’m doing as I’ve been told.
A weight lifts off me slowly. The tickets have come through and I can be by her side as she undergoes the procedure tomorrow.
Don’t come, she begs. Stay with the Bean.
My mother with a badly smashed ankle.
My daughter so badly asthmatic that she takes the nebuliser in her stride and merrily heads off to school.
Do I stay or do I go?
The OA gives me a look – Do you really think I’m less capable of caring for the kids than you?
No. No, I don’t. In fact he’s more meticulous and careful than I can ever be.
But I’m good for cuddles, laughs, stories and general smothering.
I tell my maid not to skip work while I’m traveling because Bhaiya will be managing office and kids alone. I tell her why I’m going – my mother has had an accident.
She tsks with real concern – How terrible. Now who will take care of your father?
I resist lecturing her and head off to pack my overnighter. It takes me a couple of minutes because now I have a mental checklist of what I’ll need in case of an emergency in the family.
Hopefully this is the last we’ll see of illness for a while.
Or as Cousin K helpfully suggests on our watsapp group – Anyone else want to break any bones? Please do it now. We have a room booked in X hospital and might get a group discount.
Laughter really is the best medicine.
See you on the other side.