It’s still a bit of mystery why the cheetahs ever ended up in the trainers. However, when your child is screaming that they don’t want their shoes on because something in them is biting their toes, the obvious question to ask is what the offending beast is. When the answer was cheetahs, a metaphorical eyebrow was raised but we got on with the job in hand of removing them, as, when you’ve got to get to school, you tend to do whatever it takes to get there on time.
The cheetahs then came and went at various points. Do you acknowledge the imaginary friend or do you ignore them in the hope that your child will move on from something that does make them seem, to be honest, a little mad?
Although incredibly at home in his imaginary world, Giles finds the real world a harder work on a physical and emotional level. Like his mother, sister (and most likely his father), Giles is, to some extent hypermobile falling into the spectrum of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. This Syndrome affects us all in different ways, in Giles it has made him reflux and it affects his feet, hips and pelvis, therefore affecting his balance. So walking was/is hard, he tires easily, negotiating play equipment has been incredibly challenging and stairs/steps remain an all too regularly occurring evil.
Add into the equation constantly inflamed tonsils that made him aspirate (breath in) the refluxed stomach contents into his lungs causing chest infection after chest infection (which in turn resulted in a cough that meant he refluxed everything he’d eaten) and you will understand why we were heading for a frequent flyer pass at the GP’s well before he was 2. Finally we ended up at Great Ormond Street Hospital in the ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Dept. ENT? The child has reflux! Well, actually, no he doesn’t. Well, he does but it’s caused by his tonsils. So we’ll whip them out and have a look at why he has nosebleeds whilst we’re there, and sort out his adenoids so he doesn’t snore so loudly you can hear him from downstairs. Let’s just do a blood test to see why that nose bleeds for so long.
These tests showed that Giles has a Platelet Function Defect which essentially means his blood doesn’t clot properly.
Storage pool disorders/ release defects/aspirin-like defects
These are a mixed group of conditions resulting in a variably severe bleeding tendency. They are diagnosed on the basis of a clinical history and abnormal platelet function tests. Depending on the severity of the condition, treatment may be with tranexamic acid, DDAVP or platelet transfusion. Source: http://www.gosh.nhs.uk/gosh/clinicalservices/haemophilia/CustomMenu_04
So having his tonsils out was a major issue. Instead of overnight, we spent a week in GOSH where he became more and more suspicious of anyone coming towards him, especially with a syringe or encouraging him to come and play away from his hospital bed – all stemming from the fact that he suddenly became very poorly whilst in the ward playroom and his instant association that it was going to happen again. Pretty astute for a 3 year old.
But then, when he felt better, the cheetahs reappeared, bred, invited friends over for tea and generally became an every day part of our existence. They come with him to the places he wouldn’t really want to go on his own and for that fact alone, I am happy to enter into conversation with them. They’ve been to the dentist, they come to the hospitals, they come in lifts, on escalators, through tunnels and anywhere else they’re needed. If they’re not able to go in his shoes, they travel in his (or if too many have come out with us, my) pockets. They’re pretty tame and thoroughly enjoy looking out the windows whilst on the Underground.
Perhaps the most sense was made by his Podiatrist, Jill Ferrari who seemed completely unsurprised that he had cheetahs living in his shoes that were biting his toes. How else can a 3 year old explain why their feet hurt?