Newcastle woman Katrina-Jane wants to make something clear. Yes, she makes a living from being a clairvoyant, and yes, she claims to have predicted road accidents, family deaths and to have felt the cancer pain of complete strangers.
But she doesn’t know everything.
“I’m not God, you know. I’m not omnipotent,” she told Mamamia. “I have to tune in. Otherwise you’d go mental just walking down the street, getting bombarded with everything.”
The 49-year-old’s adult son knows this, but still, he enjoys little more than to rib his psychic mum about how she once failed to notice his potentially life-threatening illness. Actually… make that twice.
Her boy was just seven, maybe eight, Katrina-Jane recalled, when he developed a cough. There were no other symptoms – no fever, no runny nose – and as he was generally a pretty resilient kid, she sent him off to school each day as normal. But a few days passed, and the cough hadn’t eased.
“After another couple of days, it was worse still, and I went, ‘Oh, I actually think he’s really sick. There’s something wrong here.’ And so I took him to the doctor. The doctor listened to his chest, and said, ‘Your son’s got croup. Rush him to emergency, right now. We need to get him on steroids to try and stop this,'” she said.
Seeing her son lying in the hospital bed a short time later, a drip pierced into his arm, Katrina-Jane felt the guilt take hold.
“You feel bad, so bad. You feel like you are the worst parent in the world. How could I have not picked up that he was sick? And he was so, so sick,” she said.
Listen: Sue Channon talks about what it is like to be a parent of a very sick child and what people can do to make life a little bit better.
Research conducted by Amcal Pharmacy has shown that Katrina-Jane is far from alone in overlooking her son’s ailment. According to the company’s survey, one third of parents reported that they have downplayed their child’s pain because they didn’t realise how serious it was.
“The guilt as a mum when you don’t pick up on something is horrendous,” she said.
Unfortunately, in Katrina-Jane’s case, it happened again seven years later.
“By that stage we had moved out of Sydney and were living on a farm, so I had to drive him to the school bus stop,” she recalled. “I was driving along one morning, and I noticed that he had his hands between his knees and his legs were covered in goosebumps. It was the middle of summer. I just went, ‘Dude, are you alright? Are you cold?'”
When the concerned mother pressed her now-teenage son, he conceded he wasn’t feeling well, that the past couple of nights he’d sweat through his pyjamas. A visit to the doctor and a chest X-ray revealed he had pneumonia.
“I just went, ‘Oh jeez, I’m a great mother. Here we go again,'” Katrina-Jane said.
The guilt wasn’t quite so heavy with the second diagnosis. Her son, old enough to speak up, was the one who had brushed it off this time around.
“I had raised a very self-sufficient child – he put his stuff in the washing basket, cleaned up after himself,” she said. “I’m now the very proud mum of a man who can cook, clean, iron, wash – you know, completely look after himself. But at the time it meant I didn’t get those signs – I didn’t go and make his bed and notice his sheets were damp, I didn’t feel his jammies.”
Now aged 27, Katrina-Jane's boy has turned out fine - "He's survived," she laughed. But he's also never quite let her live down what happened all those years ago.
"He's got my sense of humour - we take the piss out of each other a lot. So I'll say, 'Hey, why didn't you get me a Mother's Day card?', and he'll be like, 'Well, remember that time you sent me to school with croup and I had to get rushed to hospital?'"
The clairvoyant can laugh about it too now, and appreciates the incredible irony of it all. She just hopes other parents can also learn, as she has, to let go of the guilt.
"Just because you're a parent doesn't mean you have a supersonic radar in regards to your children. We're human.
"Just be prepared to be ribbed for the rest of your life," she laughed.