Sunday 11 March 2012

Bogie thinks he's tough?

It’s funny how Lisa and Freddie argue, very like an old a married couple sometimes. Just now Lisa was going upstairs and Freddie wanted to follow, he needed the charger for his netbook which Ruby had taken to bed last night. They argued over who’d go up to Ruby’s room each of them offering to go and in the end both did, squabbling all the way up. Ruby wasn’t for handing over the charger; the teenage glum mood overturned the young man’s enthusiasm….a valuable lesson learned there by Fred.  Mother and son came back united in rejection, no longer fighting. Petty squabbles quickly forgotten are a hallmark of people who spend a lot of time together, eventually each knows what will rise the other and instinctively too, when to back off. Maybe with the help of a good counsellor they’ll get through the day in peace and return to under the blankets on the couch where I found them earlier this morning.

With the triumph of last weekend, staying out of hospital even though Freddie suffered a seizure cluster, I went through the week on a bit of a high. Even though we’re so well looked after it was such a relief not to have visited the Cashel ward for the first time in seven months and we all knew it. Ruby and I returned to our weekly routine of early rises and silent trips to Dingle. The beautiful early spring mornings make the journey so much nicer and the memory of dark, wet wintry ones is fading fast. Some mornings the gorgeous rising sunlight on the river at Blennerville accompanies us out of town and the crashing waves on the beaches of West Kerry make a stunning backdrop before we turn up the Connor Pass. There’s a little fellow, probably ten or eleven who stands at the gate of his house each morning waiting for the school bus. The house is just at the foot of the Pass and he’s been there since we started the route in September, dressed in a duffle coat, bag over the shoulder. Unless we’re very early or late he’s there and we always salute each other. The funny thing about him is that he waves each morning in the exact same way. Like an old man, elbow in at the hip, he raises his lower left arm slowly, slightly slants the hand and points the index finger in acknowledgement. Last week he had a friend with him and the two were looking at a comic as we passed, he won’t see me this morning I thought. However, without looking up the index finger went out as usual…what a man. One morning he didn’t wave at all and I was very disappointed until Ruby pointed out that it wasn’t the same fellow, my man must have been off sick or selling Mount Brandon to a tourist. More than likely the latter….

On Thursday Ruby went to the annual Fashion Show at school as put on by the transition year students and stayed over at a friend’s house. For a change I didn’t have to get up at the usual seven o’clock the next morning. Going to bed Thursday evening I was looking forward to my little lie in and a not too rushed breakfast. With Freddie lying beside me in a deep sleep and Lisa pottering round I was about to get up at 7.30 Friday morning when he went into a seizure. Holding him in my arms all I could think was will he ever get a break, will this epilepsy ever leave him alone. Thankfully it was a short seizure, no more than a minute or so, again a sign of the Frontal Lobe Epilepsy. After a little snooze he jumped out of bed to join his mother on the couch and though a little dazed he was ok. The fear for me was that another cluster was beginning but within half an hour he was demolishing a plate of omelette and toast, such a trooper. After my own breakfast I headed off to Dingle, not wanting to but needs must and knowing the hospital is so close makes all the difference. Lisa and I chatted over the phone throughout the day and all was fine, he’d put the morning behind him.

Ruby texted me during the day, she had basketball practice that afternoon so after work I wandered around town waiting for the call to collect her. After a night away she’s usually tired enough but with the basketball she’d be exhausted and grumpy. “Collect me now” was all the text said at about five-thirty and I feared the worst driving up to the school. She got in looking tired, glum even and I now know better than to ask her immediately how she’s gotten on the previous night, but we chatted a bit before the earphones went in, which was nice. An uneventful Friday journey home and we were in the door by half-past six. Straight into the front room where Freddie is seizing on the couch, Lisa holding him. What a kick in the teeth.

After another seizure at seven we gave him the Diazepam hoping we’d avoid the hospital again. No such luck as he keeled over again about seven-fifteen. The little man hadn’t recovered well after the first one so I feared the worst. Even though each seizure was mild, the last one went on for about four minutes so the bags were packed, the call to Cashel ward made and off we went. Dropping Lisa and Freddie at the doors of A&E is unfortunately so familiar and not what I was hoping for Friday evening. After parking the car I headed straight to the ward carrying his bags, its all so routine now. The hospital was packed and I was greeted by the sound of wailing kids when I opened the door to the ward. There wasn’t a nurse in sight as they were off looking after the kids so I went to the treatment room. However the door was closed and the blind drawn. A nurse was running up the corridor with breathing gear in her hands, she recognised me…”he’s in here” she pointed to the closed treatment room so in I rushed not knowing what I’d find. The little man was laid out having the line put in but doing ok, dopey after the seizures and the Diazepam. As usual they were having difficulty finding a vein but Freddie put up with the prodding only giving out a little bit and after a while the blood was flowing. Nurse Marie, who always seems to be on duty during his worst nights, popped her head around the door and lightened the mood as she always does. “Oh jesus” I said “its time we found another hospital.” She laughed at me and though I tease her it’s such a comfort having her there on these nights.

A bed was wheeled in and Fred was brought down to his room. In our rush over Freddie’s DVD player and discs were left at home so I had to go back to collect them, he’d need them if things went well. Back home Ruby was parading around looking at herself in the mirror, doing her make-up and I quickly grabbed the gear leaving her to it. Because he was so dopey when they took him to the room I feared the worst when I returned. Thankfully he was curled up in a ball in a deep sleep when I pulled back the curtain. The room was roasting so I stripped down to my t-shirt and settled into the chair, Lisa on the bed with Freddie. He had another three tiny frontal lobe seizures, his fingers wriggle a bit and his eyes flicker, all over in about five seconds, you’d miss them if you weren’t looking. Otherwise he seemed settled. Marie brought in tea and biscuits, being the wonder woman that she is. Lisa and I waited. Despite the circumstances we relaxed a bit, chatting, drinking the tea, munching the biscuits and before we knew it 10.30 had come round. Over three hours since his last big seizure. Lisa sent me home to look after Ruby. We had cheese on toast in the front room, Ruby doing Facebook, me watching Casablanca. About 11.30 we both were falling asleep so off to bed we went.
Saturday morning I was up at 7am, so much for a lie in, and with a flask of fresh coffee I headed over to the hospital. Marie smiled at me from behind the desk. Behind the curtain Freddie was lying out on his bed watching Spiderman, Lisa in the chair, he’d had a peaceful night, so much for my worrying. They came home at ten o’clock that morning, less than 12 hours after they went in. Home again, all was ok. Now it’s Sunday morning and he’s watching Godzilla clips on YouTube. Epilepsy had done its best but Freddie fought back. Bogart might play the tough guy in the movies but our Freddie does it in real life.

“Here’s looking at you kid.”

1 comment:

  1. Hi John

    Great to read this as usual. Nice for your friends to get an inside view of your lives without having to worry about prying too much - it's a very good idea.
    Like you, Lorna and I are always hoping that the next news we hear about Fred will be good news. I suppose in your world you learn to be thankful for small mercies. What seems like a terrible week from hell to us may well be a blessing to you compared to what you usually go through.

    Being some kind of psychopathic optimist, I can't help thinking that in spite of all the terrible hardship Freddy has gone through and is still going through in his life, that it is bringing out in him the most superb qualities. How tough is that young boy eh? How many other kids his age could keep bouncing back from it? It's so bloody impressive and I live in hope that one day before too long he will leave the seizures behind him and can then benefit from the toughness and determination that this illness has developed in him.

    I especially loved the little cameo of the young boy in the duffle-coat by the gate each morning. There's a great short story in that. The temptation is always to find out more about him though, which might be a mistake - at least until after you've written the story.

    It interests me how Ruby is coping with all this. She seems to show an impressive level of coping and resilience herself.

    John, you and Lisa are an example to us all in your dedication and your determination. Thank God you manage to retain a sense of humour. You deserve a positive breakthrough for all of your perseverance and I hope it comes soon.

    Keep us informed and we look forward to when we see you next. We'll probably be in the campervan next time.

    Mark & Family