Saturday, 24 March 2012

Georgie, Georgie, Georgie!!!

Yes, I’ve been AWOL again. Things have not gone to plan, so the hilarity of the Vietnamese overnight trains will have to wait (it is quite funny I promise.)

In the meanwhile, I’ve had another shocking week.

When our gorgeous George got out of ICU I thought we were on the road to recovery. It wasn’t to be. He went back to school and last week we narrowly avoided a call to the ambulance as his oxygen levels dropped. Not that I’m adverse to the ambulance per se, but it does mean an inevitable ride and likely admission to hospital. We weren’t so lucky this week.

I got the call from school and drove over. I remembered to hang on to my car keys this time, the memory of being in this same situation with our Jazzy-angel is still burning with embarrassment. On that occasion, she was in danger of having a significant seizure on top of low oxygen, so the MICA (Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance) attendant was also requested. These are the guys who are called by the ambulance crew to give them a hand in more fragile situations. Our man arrives, is briefed, jumps on board and we’re ready to go. The plan is that I’ll follow as I need to bring my car and her wheelchair for the minute we’re allowed to leave – but I can’t find my fucking car keys!!!!

George isn’t looking great. His oxygen is not being sustained without support and his temperature is hotter than a February heat wave. We agree to call the ambulance.

I head off as they're loading George, calling a friend on the way to collect the little one from school, and arrive at the emergency room. An ambulance arrives. “Excuse me, I think my son’s in there,” I say, pointing. “Come through”, the kind woman says. He’s not in it.

The next ambulance arrives. He’s not in that either. Two more arrive and I start to think they’ve gone to the wrong hospital. Finally, he arrives. “I’m so sorry,” the driver tells me as I ask which way they came, “I’m missed the turn off – I’ve never done that before!” She’s clearly horrified. It doesn’t matter – he’s here!

We transfer him from the gurney and unbelievably, he’s even hotter. To touch it feels like he's about to self combust. We get into the resuscitation area and within a short amount of time he’s improved dramatically.  Never the less, a chest infection is diagnosed and he’s admitted for IV anti-biotics and physio. "A couple of days?" I ask hopefully. “Probably a bit longer," says the doctor, managing my expectations.

He’s been sleeping so badly at home and my other half is away – on a surfing trip no less! – that I freely admit, here and now that a small part of me was a little bit relieved. I was now going to get to lie down myself. My brother had come down from Dubai for a few days and was an enormous help but had left a few days prior. So many people in fact, offered their help – it’s truly overwhelming. But at 4am on a sleeplessness night, there’s really no one you’re going to call, regardless of your desperation.

It’s now been days and he’s still in. He’s had a multitude of tests and is quite well, but aspiration has been identified as the key culprit (that’s swallowing food into your lungs – which can cause not only choking, but infection.) We’re just sorting through that now. My other half arrived back at 1.30am and is at the hospital now. So hopefully this week, things will finally start to get back to normal. I bloody well hope so!

Monday, 12 March 2012

The Trip - Part VIII

Yes, where have I been? I'm so sorry. George is now home and recovering well. Back to school tomorrow in fact. Thank you everyone for your concern and well wishes - all the positive thoughts worked!

So back to the next instalment of the trip.

We land in Hanoi and the temperature is about 10 degrees – maximum. Geoff and the kids have been paying out on me for packing parkers but they’re eating their words now my friends!

There’s no guide, no tours, no plans for Hanoi. We’ve been here before and seen the sites so no pressure to rush around. Last time we loved the combination of French and Asian culture – and climate so it seems.

I’ve booked a hotel on and it’s worked a treat! We’ve right among the action and a mere stroll from the old quarter and from the travel agent where I also booked our train tickets for the next sections of the journey.

We spend a day wandering the streets and lanes and pick up a few bits. It’s very low key and pleasant. The next day is Elle’s birthday and after a late breakfast we wander off to find these crazy swan paddle boats I recall from last time we were here – we find them, tied up  to shore and looking very sad. We keep walking to the Reunification Park – which in the drizzle, bizarrely resembles Lake Wendouree in Ballarat. As it’s Elle’s birthday, we decide to go to a proper restaurant for lunch. We stumble into an absolute ripper and the Ballarat theme continues – you’d swear it was a bistro from the 1970s – with décor and service to match. It’s hilarious. I excuse myself on the pretext of popping to the loo and organise a birthday cake as a surprise to follow lunch.

Would you call that light shade peach, apricot or salmon???

The menu is very French and I bravely order the duck and a glass of red – the duck’s not bad and the red – well, it is red….

We are having a very funny time as they play a shocking Eurovision-style ‘happy new year’ song about 85 times in a row. As we finish lunch, they add an equally bad version of 'happy birthday' to the musical repertoire. The staff bring in small plates and forks and lay them on the table. They the pack them back up and take them away. I think the ‘surprise’ is up.

We wonder back towards the hotel and decide to fill the time before we need to head to the station to catch the overnight train to Hue with yet another shocking massage. Geoff point blank refuses so leave us at the ‘salon’ while he sets off to find supplies for the train. The music assault continues as we’re subjected to Hotel California in pan pipes! Drowned out only when the door opens and the sound of hundreds of motor bikes fight for supremercy. Sadly, the pan pipes win.

I don’t know who told the Vietnamese that tourist love 70s music but we hear more Silver Convention and Boney M than my parents subjected us to when they were actually current.

We get to the station and finally board the train – always a thrill when there’s no raised platforms, the train floors are a good metre off the ground and we have kids, luggage, wheelchair, stroller and us to load on before they blow that whistle!!!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Mother Who Works: The Edge

Mother Who Works: The Edge: What a couple of weeks. I have done The Trip Part VIII but need to find some pics. It's unusual for me to say I haven't had time but reall...

The Edge

What a couple of weeks. I have done The Trip Part VIII but need to find some pics. It's unusual for me to say I haven't had time but really, I have been a little pressed.

So, my first two weeks as being gainfully unemployed and it wasn't exactly as expected.

I finished work with only two weeks notice because my gorgeous boy was scheduled for spinal surgery. His sister, Jazzy -angel had spinal surgery over 3 years ago and by comparison, I had assumed this would be fairly straight forward.

In spite of the actual operation going for much longer than I expected - like nearly 2 hours more than my calculation - he was straight onto the ward and all was going well; out of bed, physio, etc. Two days later he was extremely restless; turned out one of the drugs can cause hallucinations and he was one of those ones. He tossed around and sat up and twisted and leapt around like a Mexican bean - all after back surgery - eek. Things continued to unravel as his oxygen levels kept dipping. I left him at about 10.30pm, reasonably settled - but we were both exhausted and I needed to lie down.

The hospital called just after midnight to say they'd moved him to ICU. It wasn't unexpected but a real bummer. They rang again at 2am to say they were intubating him and putting him on a ventilator. Fuck!! I get out of bed and throw on a bra and some jeans and drive in (conveniently we're only 20 minutes away in the middle of the night). They won't let me see him as they're still doing the 'procedure'. I'm shown to a waiting room and lie down on a small vinyl couch in bright fluorescent light and fall asleep. 

I'm woken after 4am and jump up in fright. I arrive in the room and feel feint. "Are you okay with all this equipment?' asks the nurse. "I'm fine, I just got up too fast." I'm not sure she believes me but in truth, unfortunately, I've seen it all before.

A day later and doctor comes and sits beside me. 'We're worried about your son.' WTF?? I'm the mother, I'm the one who's meant to be worried, you're the one who's meant to be calming and reassuring. His infection is rampant and his organ function is now being compromised. Later, I speak to another doctor who manages my expectations - he will get worse before he gets better. And what if his kidneys don't pick up? "Dialysis'.  I'm sorry - I don't remember ticking that box. No thanks. And liver? Well..... and I get the picture.

I'm there all day - still wearing the T-shirt I went to bed in. This day is just awful. Hideous. My son and I are both on the edge. My sister in law happens to turn up - just her - which is good as I'm extremely fragile and she's the right person at the right time.

The next day he is worse - but only marginally thank goodness. The day turns to stable and stable is extremely good news for me for now.

Five more days in ICU and we're finally home. He officially has a screw lose - from the day of hallucinations - but if it heals like that he should be fine. The compromise is a metal brace 24/7 but with morphine, we winning that one too.

It's been a hell of a ride, but fingers cross we're over the worst of it now and we can get back to the trip in a day or two - which believe me, may have been significantly less exciting but a hell of a lot more fun.

The Moroccan Bath

The girls and I have come up to Dubai for a few days to escape the Melbourne winter. It's in the 40s so we've thawed out - quickly. ...