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Child care in reverse follows Dad's health emergency

  • 15 May 2015

Parents aim to give their children a sense of perspective; an awareness of their place and role in the world.

With my wife, I try to teach our kids Emily (11) and Ben (8) that we don't hold sway over our beginnings and endings – co-dependency and community reign. But as for how we elect to muddle through the in-between bits? That´s on us.

My favourite parental pontification has always been to choose to treat life´s lesser negatives as ‘water off a duck´s back´ by not letting circumstances dictate their responses; the Romans put it more martially; vincit qui se vincit (‘he conquers who conquers himself´).

But my own duck has been royally saturated of late by a serious health condition that would´ve ended me in a less enlightened age.

For several months I´d worked, growled, slept and woken in pain and discomfort, hounding my hapless GP as she dismissed possible maladies such as kidney stones, cancer, diabetes, bladder infections, tumours, prostate problems, etc.

Weight gain baffled; work colleagues frowned me-wards daily, concerned. Heavy facial bruising led to attempted humour: winking surreptitiously I reassured the kids that their gentle mother, Trudy, was not bashing me each night.

A belated early April referral to a urologist/surgeon, led to an alarming ultrasound and a blunt instruction to head for the nearby emergency triage ‘now´. My bladder was a water balloon waiting to go splat. A damaged kidney raised fears.

A painful, slow but necessary catheterisation was a new lowlight (worsened by the practitioner´s grinning admission that ‘you´re my first´). A sleepless night in emergency dawdled on, punctuated by a friend´s visit, anxious phone calls and texts, and regular screams from ‘code greys´ (instances of drug-affected and mental health patients losing the plot).

Back home, the kids were in tears. They rallied, negotiating a roster for sleeping in Mum´s bed. I felt useless.

Grim if illuminating consultations (‘we usually see this in 60 and 70 year olds´) preceded a bleak morning release. Several miserable weeks followed, walking circles slowly around home.

It´d be good for my ego to declare that I shed the collective pain, stress and uncertainty like H2O off my tail feathers, as I proved myself a positive stalwart for wife and progeny.  Not always so; I´ve too little faith in this best of all possible worlds, and too vivid an imagination.

Hope, and the sense of perspective I try to emphasise in my parenting, actually came from Trude and the kids.