Sunday, September 24, 2006

woeful weekend

One of the many good things about becoming a parent was the way it helped me understand other parents. More specifically, it made me realise how stressful it is when a child is ill. These days, when a parent brings their child to see me at work, I completely grasp how worried they are; I can comprehend that a seemingly minor ailment or injury can cause untold anxiety for a mother or father. Before having children, I was aware that parents got very concerned about their children, and I tried to be kind and reassuring, but often, the concern seemed vastly out-of-proportion to the problem, and I didn't quite get it. I'm sure that came through in my demeanour.

I have been humbled by having my own kids. The distress I feel when they are sick or hurt engulfs me. I am a complete baby when it comes to my 'babies'. And the less they complain, the worse I feel for them. My daughter Laura has always been such a stoic little thing with illness. She doesn't cry, she lies quietly and doesn't call out. I'll hear a small sound in the night, and find her standing over the toilet, being sick, with no fuss. She is a real trooper.

This weekend, Laura Lou has been unwell. She has vomited 17 or 18 times (I've kind of lost count). She has not shed a tear, despite this. Right now, she is finally asleep for awhile. And here I sit, knowing she will be OK, knowing she just has a particularly nasty gastro bug, but worrying about her and feeling anxious just like any other parent (actually I suspect more fretful than is normal!). I want to fix things so she feels back to normal, straight away. I don't want to go to work tomorrow (even though Fatty - her perfectly capable father - will be home with her) because I know Laura slightly prefers her mother when she is sick. I want a cackling anti-vomit witch to come and make us a magic potion. And while she's here the witch could hang out all the sheets and towels and pyjamas I've had to wash.

So I just want to make it perfectly clear that I do now 'get' parental anxiety. I get it already, I got it with Laura's first cold almost 6 years ago. I don't want to know how much worse it would be if I had a seriously ill child. I am tired of just the regular worries. But I'm a parent, so I'm not allowed to get tired of it. Parents must just endure.

Enduring is only relieved by whining. Thank you for listening.


Motherkitty said...

Whine away, dear Jellyhead. I'm so sorry that Laura Lou is sick. I certainly hope she is feeling much better very soon. Not fun having a bad tummy. I also hope Ben doesn't come down with this gastrointestinal bug, but he probably will.

You never know how other people feel (your patients' parents) until you walk in their shoes. I think you have done just that this weekend.

John Cowart said...

Few things in life are worse than having a kid who is ill or in trouble. And that concern changes but never goes away even when they being to drive, or date, or enter the job market.

I hope Laura Lou sleeps late and pescefully till the bug passes so you can snatch some rest also.

PS: Our youngest daughter's middle name is also Laura.

Remiman said...

You are so right there. Our kids test our coping abilities just because we want to protect them from all the ills that life has in store for them.
We still worry for each of ours. Our oldest is 39, the "middle" child is 35, and the baby is 29.

T. said...

Whether a seriously ill child or just a kid fighting the gastro bug, it doesn't matter. You still have to deal with it, cope and worry. There are no limits to the depths of anxiety a parent has to endure.

But you are right when you say we simply must endure. Because there is no alternative.

But you are wrong when you say enduring is only relieved by whining. Humour helps too!

But I'll listen to you whine any day, Jelly.

And I sincerely hope you girl feels better quickly. So that you can too.

shellyC said...

I remember when Luca was rushed to hospital when he was 6 days old and ended up staying there for 10 days. It ended up not being serious however I remember saying so often as it was such a worrying time "God how would I cope if it was something really serious" I really didn't think I could. But I guess you do.

I think there are many occupations where people become more understanding once they have had their own children.

I hope you little trooper Laura is feeling so much better.

jellyhead said...

Thanks Motherkitty, John and Rel for letting me complain without telling me to grow up and just get on with it!

And T, you are so right about humour helping. I spoke with a friend just after posting, and she told me a hilarious story, and it made me forget for awhile all about the anxiety. T, after what you have been through, I would expect you to roll your eyes at such trivial worries and complaints. Thank you for being patient and kind anyway.

(For the record, Laura seems a lot better today)

jellyhead said...

Whoops, missed your comment Shelly while I was writing my own! Thanks for the good wishes :)

Val said...

Interesting thinking about you with your two hats on, GP and mother, and which one has the more weight. You never stop being a mother! My brother is the baby, at 48, and my mother still worries about him. So we're in for the long haul, I'm afraid.

Heather said...

Was it my hilarious story that helped? If so, shame on you for laughing at my predicament!

You know I am kidding.

Kisses to you and Laura! Mwah!

thisisme said...

I'm glad to hear that Laura is feeling better. I love the idea of a cackling anti-vomit witch too, especially if she will do the laundry for you.

Anonymous said...

I can't stand it when one of the boys are sick. I can do everything to comfort them and try to "fix" them, but I can't hardly sleep until they are better. I am constantly "on their asses" about eating right and getting enough sleep to stay healthy. We have been blessed the last couple of years with just some minor illnesses. I see that being a doc doesn't exclude you, Jelly, from the knawing worry that accompanies being a good parent. I hope Laura will be well again soon!

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

I hope that Laura Lou is much better by now and that none of the rest of you catch her bug.

Kerri said...

Whine all you like Jelly...that's what we're here for :)
I hope you and Laura get lots of rest and that no one else catches the nasty bug!

susan said...

John Cowart said it best when he was quoting his wife - something like this - When you have children, they give you an epidural for the pain, but it only lasts a little while, they need to give you something that lasts about 30 years!

Franny said...

Poor baby...I understand, and its hard because there is little you can do for her until it runs it's course.

Do you guys follow the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) for kids with the stomach flu? I hope she can hold things down soon.

With you in mom-solidarity.

Mimi said...

It's positively aweful to have a sick child. I have never worried more in my entire life, especially when there is nothing to do but wait for them to get better.