So I taught another toy workshop on Saturday and it was the best so far. I think the participants enjoyed it, although you can never be 100% sure when they say nice things they aren't just trying to be polite.
I quite like that each class is so unique and, in theory at least, I expect and even accept that the occasional nutter or difficult participant is part and parcel of the challenge of community based education.
But I have to say a class full of people who have all their faculties, know what they want to do, know how to ask questions, like to chat and have a sense of humour makes teaching a joy. And a joy not just on the easiness scale, a joy in feeling like I have lots to offer, like my personal difficulties are not getting in the way. It's nice to feel like there's a point to the time we have together.
And it was great that someone actually came all the way from Sydney for the class, and equally great to discover one participant lives 8 doors down from me and has a kid Wil's age and another one works with a friend of mine. The world is both bigger and smaller than expected.
So despite being tired and hoarse (yep, I talk a lot when I teach), and knowing I was coming home to preparations for a hoard over for dinner, I was feeling great. All our guests brought great contributions, the kids were all playing nice, the food was great, the weather was even holding out enough for us to eat outdoors.
And then as the witching hour approached and the tenor of Wil's evening grizzle changed I got that sinking feeling. It was only 7 but he was begging for sleep so I started our bedtime routine a little early. As soon as he hit the change table he became completely hysterical. And I started imagining all the possible scenarios that might have brought this on. Overtiredness, injury from rough big kid play, swallowing god knows what, reflux, some as yet unnamed condition.
He had trouble breastfeeding, breaking away every couple of seconds to cry a little and squirm. I tried to settle him to no avail. D had his turn, valiantly persisting for half an hour or more before we hit the panadol, a bottle of formula, another go at the boob and finally he fell off to sleep.
Weird, I thought. Thank goodness that's over!
By the time I emerged from the bedroom, all the guests were gone (a wailing baby is such a mood killer), so we got Amy off to bed and started the clean up. Almost immediately the wailing started again. Clearly whatever was up was not going away. So we got him up again and I gave him some zantac and tried to calm him but he was utterly inconsolable and thrashing around in discomfort.
Now while Wil has thrown the occasional all night scream fest he hadn't done so for such a long time, and coming on with no warning at all it all seemed a bit concerning. He'd had a poo since I'd come home from class so I ruled out constipation, and the zantac and panadol hadn't helped at all so I ruled out reflux. There were no signs of injury, but I had no way of knowing about the swallowing thing. The floor in the new room had been littered with bits of wire and plastic after the electrician had come and although D had swept, it was impossible to get everything.
By 10.30 I wasn't comfortable to try and ride it out so I called a cab, strapped the screamer to my belly and headed off to the hospital while D stayed home with Amy. The cabbie was lovely though a little nervous Wil might take a turn for the worse on his watch, so he kept lookign at us in the rear view mirror and asking questions about what was going on. He got us there as quick as he could and wished me luck.
Triage warned me the wait was going to be about 4 hours and although I felt that was totally intolerable with the level of screamery taking place in front of our very eyes I thanked the nurse and sat down. We've done pretty well at the kids hospital. I think every visit so far Amy has vomited on the triage counter upon arrival which always helps make a point about the perils of leaving us to wait. And I guess too because we don't often make it to the hospital until things really are dire.
After half a hour or so I was called for the weigh and temp check, my second chance to have someone assess whether a 4 hour wait was really going to be OK. Before I could even broach the possibility that I might lose my mind if I couldn't see a doctor in the next moment, the nurse took on that look nurses do when they feel really concerned. She asked me to explain again how it had started. And then she left. And then she came back and said she was concerned Wil had something really wrong with him, a bowel thing that was nasty and scary. She took me to a consulting room and said I'd just moved up to number 1 spot on the list and Wil was now officially fasting. Just in case.
I wish I could say I was relieved. But there is only one thing more anxiety producing that being told you have to wait 4 hours to see a doctor in casualty, and that's being told you need to see the doctor more than anyone else. And that your baby can't have breast milk or water. Just in case. So I waited, holding my screaming writhing infant and hoped that the nurse was an over anxious type.
Sadly no. The doctor was equally concerned. She watched Wil and agreed he did indeed seem very distressed. His belly was indeed as a hard as steel and protruding a little more than seemed right. Hmm yes. Perhaps he did have the nasty bowel thing. Perhaps he had swallowed god knows what.
X-rays. Featuring my hands as I tried in vain to keep him still and stretched flat over a hard metal box containing x-ray film.
X-rays showing a belly full of poo. Really really full of poo. I told them (again) he'd pooed at 5.30, how could he be constipated? It seems Wil's already diagnosed crappy gut was failing to move poo through, so even though he poos regularly he still has a gut full of poo that was hurting like heck. And distending all his bowel and messing with his urge to poo and getting him into a vicious cycle where he was just always dealing with a back up.
So you know, nothing that was going to kill him, but something requiring me to work and manage. Diet, medicine. eagle eyes. Which was good, you know. Not a scary life threatening thing. But didn't stop the screaming or the fact that pain relief was off the agenda (even more constipating) and it was now almost midnight and we were both very tired and still at the hospital. And my voice hoarse from teaching was not hoarse from teaching but actually the beginning of a killer sore throat that was rapidly turning me demented.
So I went to the waiting room outside with all the other parents who were wishing they could get bumped up that 4 hour waiting list, and I called a cab and waited. I think Wil may even have nodded off. And perhaps my eyes were closed because I recall opening my eyes to see the doctor there. And she said that she was sorry, and it took me a moment to realise that what she was saying was that maybe she'd been wrong. That maybe all that poo wasn't the only problem Wil had and could I come back inside.
It seems the senior consult had reviewed the x-ray and wanted to talk to me. So he said he was very sorry about the miscommunication, but there was a bubble on the x-ray that was not totally typical of the scary bowel thing, but wasn't normal either and could be the scary bowel thing after all. He wasn't prepared to let us leave until the senior surgeon had reviewed the x-rays and seen Wil.
Lie down on the guerney and see if you can't get a little sleep, he said. It will probably be a while till the surgeon can see you.
There are times when you are a parent that you have no choice but to endure things that are really really hard. Too hard. Being in a hospital with a very sick child is one of those things. Being in a hospital with that child when it is very late, and you are very tired and have a sore throat and you are alone and they are very distressed and you know it will be a long time before anything else happens is about the hardest of them all.
I didn't call D. I hoped he was in bed asleep and not worried. I was very glad I hadn't called him ten minutes before to say everything was alright and we were headed home. I didn't want to call him now and say it was looking scary again. That I was very tired and feeling really scared and alone and that I wanted out. That I just wanted to cry and emote instead of being in control of this terrible situation.
And then suddenly the consult appeared and said the surgeon had reviewed the film and wasn't excited. Just loved that. Wasn't excited at all. He was quick to stress that any continuation of symptoms, any new symptoms, anything at all that concerned me and I was to come straight back. Immediately. But otherwise I was free to go, me and my helping the poo flow instructions.
So again I strapped Wil in, went out and called a taxi. Even on discharge he was crying more than any of the kids waiting to be seen, but I was so darn grateful to be out of there I was almost singing. Even with the throat which seemed by now must be bleeding it hurt so much.
And I kept on feeling that way for 10 or 15 minutes. Then I started getting impatient for that cab. And my bed. And another adult to carry Wil for a while.
After an hour I was beginning to lose my mind. Inside I was screaming. It is not right to make a sick baby wait around at 2 in the morning for a lift home.
After an hour and a half I was on the phone to the cab company, ready to have a serious tantrum. I was still on hold when the nurse who had been looking after Wil knocked off her shift. She looked at the clock and looked at me and offered to drive us home.
I could have died with relief and gratitude. Never have I been so thankful for people who are prepared to pay it forward. I don't even know what her name is but man I hope she had a seriously good day on Sunday when she woke up.
Our Sunday was a little rocky. After getting home I had to pretty much hold Wil all night and let him put himself on and off the boob at will. I was shattered and so was he, and it stayed that way for most the day. D took Amy out and Wil and I existed in that little come down bubble of getting over a major incident (once upon a time it would have been after a big party...). Both tired and cranky and lethargic. Both knowing the worst was past but not yet feeling any better.
We missed D's family reunion and our chance for a tour of parliament house and to play bowls in the private parliament gardens. Instead we sat on the grass in our backyard and I tried to stay awake while Wil pulled all the cherry tomatoes of the vine, squashed them and threw them away. Thankfully it was sunny. And we went shopping for prunes and prune juice and laxatives for Wil and hot chips for me. And napped fitfully on the bed together.
Off to the GP now for more discussion of poo. So very glamorous!