Flea should have been back at school tomorrow.
This was a big moment for her because it’s her first year in junior school. Flea’s been excited for weeks to try out her new uniform – this year she has a skirt rather than a pinafore, and her PE kit has switched to singlet and tracksuit rather than shorts and t-shirt. There’s a new school bag with room for more books, and this term she’ll be starting hockey for the first time.
It’s all important stuff when you’re seven. Added to which, Flea hasn’t seen most of her friends for more than 2 months. There’s a lot to catch up on.
It was all going so well (if you don’t count the fact I forgot to label anything AT ALL this week) until just before dinner last night when Flea fell ill.
One moment she was illustrating dog training techniques with her ‘school’ of soft toys, the next moment she was curled in a chair, complaining of a headache and saying she didn’t want any dinner.
By midnight, her temperature was over 40 degrees, her headache was worse, and she was complaining of abdominal pain. She started vomiting at 1am. By 2am she was tucked up in my bed, exhausted, hot and tearful. You could have toasted bread on her skin, but she was shivering.
I’m sure better parents than me cope with this stuff wonderfully.
But all I can think when I’m on my own with a sick child at 2am is that I’m just not equipped for this, and I’m not sure how this small child got saddled with me as a parent.
I know enough medical types to know by heart that the early symptoms of meningitis are high temperature, headache and vomiting. They’re also symptoms of flu, of course, but that’s never what pops into your head in the wee small hours, is it? Why do we torture ourselves so with worst case scenarios?
My own Mum is one of those people who is AMAZING in a crisis. The bigger the disaster, the calmer she is – if you lose a handbag, she’ll be sympathetic and horrified. If you lose an arm, she’ll tell you to calm down, stop panicking, and pull yourself together.
Me? I crumble into a puddle at the merest suggestion that Flea might be in pain or afraid – I still can’t bear to think about the time we were on holiday and a wasp stung her in the throat.
Anyway, back to last night.
I know that photophobia (light aversion) and neck stiffness (from spinal inflammation) may not be present in children with meningitis, but the other symptoms to look out for include cold hands and feet and sore limbs. So obviously I sat up until 4am periodically feeling Flea’s hands and feet and annoying her by asking if her arms and legs hurt.
Eventually, we both fell asleep at 4am, then spent today, exhausted, curled up together on my bed watching Tom & Jerry and eating Marmite on Toast.
Today Flea has still got a raging temperature and has also developed a sore throat. Her face is swollen and she’s trying to talk without opening her mouth too wide – a classic indicator for tonsillitis. I’ve told Flea there’s no way she’s going off to school tomorrow, that she needs to rest, and not share her bugs with the rest of the class.
So while the other blogs are sharing adorable pictures of kids in shiny shoes and stiff collars, here’s Flea – snuggled on my bed with a bowl, some water and a DVD player for company.
Fingers crossed the illness is short-lived.