by JO LEAPER
I’m lucky to have two beautiful boys, Caleb* (4) and Fredrick* (2).
I’m also not so lucky. Fredrick has been ill just about every day of his life, with the exception of three glorious months between four and sixteen weeks old.
I try to instil the same values in each of my boys, regardless of how ill Fredrick is. I hope, every day, that it doesn’t change how I view them or how they view the world.
Herein lies my dilemma: how does a parent ensure that their unwell child is seen by everyone else around him, in the same way as the healthy child? After all, I can’t hide his illnesses and how sick he is.
So what’s my problem? How do you handle the fact that your child is constantly sick? And how do I ensure that Caleb gets just as much attention and truly quality time with his family?
We’re fortunate that Fredrick’s is not a life threatening illness. I’ve seen friends lose children through that, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. How do you explain to child care that the four medications he’s on all are necessary, when all they want to do is send him home? Or face that constant question of what’s actually wrong with him?
Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been at the life threatening stage… twice. And both times, the illnesses weren’t so common that people around us understood the ramifications. Hell, even I needed to do my research – I’m not medically trained at all, I’ve just benefited from watching a lot of Grey’s Anatomy. It’s not a comforting thought that most of Fredrick’s illnesses have used as cases on Grey’s Anatomy and House.
Fredrick is not considered critically ill, and rightfully so. He doesn’t have cancer, he doesn’t have every day difficulties that MS or Cerebral Palsy brings. I’m thankful every day that he doesn’t. But he is ill…. every day. There’s a multitude of medications, every day. On a good day, we have one to two a day.
On a bad day, like we’ve had for the past couple of weeks, there’s a running joke in the house about the “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” song – Fredrick’s medications today have gone into “eyes and ears and mouth and nose,” sometimes with two into the one orifice.
So, what does he have? Well, that’s a very good question – it’s like a shopping list. His GPs say he’s ‘atopic’ or hypersensitive. We’re most definitely frequent flyers at the GP and I swear, we’re responsible for the profitability of our local chemist!
Fredrick’s paediatrician adds ‘excessive secretor’ to the list, in truth, he tends to pick up whatever’s floating around. All was good at the beginning, despite Fredrick being a little premature.