Christmas is a happy and joyous time. Families come together, eat and make merry to celebrate the Festive season. Every year, however, we are encouraged to think about those less fortunate than ourselves for whom Christmas ends up being a dark and difficult period. Personally, I don’t have to work too hard to empathise with those people because for the last three years Arun has ended up in hospital over the Christmas period.
Christmas day 2008 was absolutely perfect. Arun was 10 months old and after spending the first 6 months of his life in hospital, he was starting to prosper at home. Clare, Arun and I had a perfect nuclear family Christmas. We all ate turkey at lunchtime, opened presents and watched Doctor Who.
On Boxing Day, we went for a long walk around the local woods and along the banks of the river in crisp, cold winter sunshine. However, when we got home at lunchtime Arun was clearly not well and started vomiting. After twelve hours we decided that we needed to take him to hospital. We ended up spending two nights in our local hospital before they decided that they could not deal with Arun’s illness and put him in an ambulance for emergency transfer to Great Ormond Street.
Within a couple of hours the miracle workers at GOSH had diagnosed the problem and had rushed Arun into emergency brain surgery to replace a blocked shunt (a piece of plumbing in his head to treat hydrocephalus). It was as difficult a time as I can remember. All I knew was that my tiny, precious son was in a lot of pain and could be taken from us at any moment. I cannot describe the waves of relief and gratitude that washed over me when the surgeon told me that the operation had been a success and within hours Arun was back to his old, happy self
The following year, Christmas 2009, it was December 22 when Arun fell ill. Again, he was vomiting and could keep nothing down. Alarm bells went off in our heads and we took him into our local hospital fearing that his shunt was blocked again and he would require brain surgery to fix it. The local hospital, used to us by now, transferred us to Great Ormond Street almost immediately. This time though, by the time we got there Arun was starting to feel a little better. The tests at GOSH indicated nothing more than a severe stomach bug and after a couple of nights in hospital we were discharged on Christmas eve and managed to spend quiet, tired but relieved Christmas at home.
Last year it was nothing so dramatic, Instead Arun had a filthy cough that would not abate. By the time we got to Boxing Day we decided that we needed some help with it (Arun also has chronic lung disease which means that any respiratory infection can rapidly lead to problems). The only Doctors’ surgery open on Boxing Day was being held at our local hospital. So, yet again we were back in hospital, albeit this time to simply have him checked over and have antibiotics prescribed.
So, fourth time lucky I figure and this year we are hoping for a quiet and uneventful Christmas. On the day itself I will though spare a moment for those who cannot enjoy Christmas at home for whatever reason. I just hope that I am not one of them.
So, I will take this opportunity to say Merry Christmas to all at Dadtalk and may yours be a happy, hearty and thoroughly uninteresting one.