Our eldest granddaughter, aka Speckly-Woo! celebrated her 3rd birthday today. Things got off to a good start with her having a CBeebies presenter offer birthday greetings whilst holding up our daughter's card-making handiwork for all to see. Obviously a proud moment for us, on two fronts.
Then came the news that the poor little soul was running a high temperature and not showing any sign of the good appetite she normally has.
When we arrived for her birthday tea, complete with great grandmother, Speckly-Woo! had been asleep on the settee for over an hour, pale and limp, having sent the electronic thermometer into a red light reading.
After ten minutes or so, she stirred to life and eventually sat up, cross legged and wearily surveying her birthday visitors. Then she rallied a little and had a stab at unwrapping gifts, with intermittent cuddles from mummy.
We recalled a time when our own daughter was about two years old. It was mid-winter and we were living in a small Cornish cottage, built around 1860, with no heating in the upstairs rooms. At two in the morning we entered our little girl's bedroom to find her burning up, switching her head from side to side, hair saturated, muttering deliriously. Mags comforted her while I telephoned our doctor (yes, you could still call your duty doctor at any time out of hours then). It seemed like an age, but eventually he answered the call at his house, somewhere in the remote wilds of Bodmin Moor.
He listened intently as I gabbled the symptoms and requested a home visit, before advising me to calm down. So, I calmed down and listened.
“Place a cold compress on her forehead and try to get her to take some fluids,” he said.
I listened for further instructions but none came. “But she's delirious,” I explained.
“Of course she's delirious,” he answered, “you'd probably be delirious if you were running a high temperature.” He refrained to comment on the fact that I sounded far from lucid in any case.
He went on, “If there's no change in a couple of hours, call me again and I'll be straight out to you.”
The following two hours seemed like an eternity but, as is often the case with children, the fever subsided almost as quickly as it came. We never did make that second call.
The fact is, there's nothing like a sick child for bringing on a sense of helplessness in us. We'd rather be ill ourselves than see the little ones suffering. But these moments have a positive, and that is the reminder, if ever we needed one, of how so very precious our children and grandchildren are. We love you Speckly-Woo! Happy Birthday and get well soon.
© 2009, copyright Martin T. Hodges