Wednesday 20 July 2011

Summer holiday, sick child – and some nice surprises!

The view from every room in the house overlooking Clew Bay
July saw the three of us hit the road for a seven day summer break. We headed for a beautiful rented house overlooking Clew Bay in County Mayo. We were joined by Uisneach's two little cousins – Katie-Gill and Tom and their parents – so six adults and three children in all. We had hoped that some extended time in the company of other children of a similar age would be good for Uisneach. Everything started fine. It was an amazing house. More than enough room for us all. A large garden and breath-taking views from every-room. A pub and restaurant less than five minutes walk. And even the weather started on a good note! Heaven. We all even managed to go out for a meal together without any major mishaps or incidents involving the kids.

Unfortunately that only lasted for two days! Poor wee Uisneach became ill on day three and became progressively worse over the next couple of days. So it was sleepless nights and constant nursing during the day for his Mam and Dad while still trying to get something out of the holiday. When his temperature soared to 39 degrees we had to contact an out of hours doctor service locally to see if we could get access to a doctor. This resulted in a half an hour drive on a narrow, windy, country road to the town of Westport to see a GP. Uisneach had tonsillitis and bronchitis and was pretty unwell. He was proscribed an antibiotic and we were told to keep his fluids up. As we made the return trip to the house Uisneach was physically sick so we had to pull over to tend to him for a while. We decided to abandon the 'holiday' early to take him home to his and our more familiar surroundings.

Enjoying the mini-railway in Westport House before becoming sick

As we don't have any other children its hard to know whether the strong feelings and emotions that we went through while trying to nurse Uisneach back to health were the normal parental emotions that any parent goes through or if there was something deeper because you sense a greater vulnerability because of his disability. It would break your heart just watching his little listless body curled up in an almost fetal position on the bed or sofa and emitting soft weak little moans. You just feel so helpless and useless.

Then at night you can't sleep because you're paranoid and fearful that you mightn't hear him if he's sick or if he has trouble breathing. Then, lying awake in your bed, your mind starts to lose the run of itself and you start imagining all sorts scary thoughts and you inevitably start to dwell on his disability again and the life that's ahead of him – none of it pleasant. Darkness with no light at the end of the tunnel. A depressing end to our 'holiday'!

And that depression could have lasted a while was it not for our little trooper. He was still quite sick when we got him home and it would take him a number of days and a visit to his own GP to recover. But as always he tries so hard to put on a smile and be in good form that it can be quite infectious (if you'll excuse the unintended pun) and things tend not to look so bleak.

Well, he's mostly over it now and is back eating properly having been right off his food for the best part of two weeks. He's also getting back in to his various routines – physio, occupational therapy and speech and language etc after almost a three week break. And what do you know. He's like a new man. His first day back in physio in Enable he decides to surprise us all. After being brought in to position at a table where the physio was preparing to get him to stand by supporting his legs with her hands he decides that he doesn't need her support. For the first time in his life, at 23 months of age, he stands next to the table all on his own – nobody supporting him. Just his own little hands resting on the table for a bit of balance. And he managed to do this for more than a minute each time on several more occasions. The physio looked gobsmacked. Uisneach's Dad too. It was like a brilliant white light had just illuminated the whole dark tunnel from the week before. It was like Uisneach had just needed a break from the hard work involved in his physio and other therapy's and the sickness had provided him and us with the excuse not to be pushing him too hard and not to be making too many demands on his little body. “I'll do it in my own time.” And so he did and not just in the physio session. He has repeated the ability everyday since. It was a little but significant milestone that Uisneach's Mam and Dad had thought was still some way off.

It's while you're in these all too rare happy-clappy illuminated places that you then begin to think – hang on a minute there – he has made progress in other areas too but we were either too busy or too focused on the next step to see that progress. And you think back. Since our last blog Uisneach has improved with his fine motor skills by attaining the ability to use his index finger separate to the rest of his digits – for pointing (to Dad's eyebrows primarily), poking (holes of various shapes and sizes – including his nostrils which he finds hilarious and at times very practical) and in conjunction with his thumb for picking up small objects (like raisins which he loves to amass and stick to the roof of his mouth to be consumed later – sometimes several hours later!).

Uisneach has also learned to play peekaboo in the last month or so and has managed at long last to put a particular block in the correct shaped hole on one of his toys.

All small, but well lit steps in the right direction, for the three of us nonetheless.

Paddle-boating on lake at Westport House