It’s been a bit of a funny week – the Cheetahs (“they’re my ‘maginry friends mummy”) have been both conspicuous by their absence and a full-on part of our daily life. The Banana People and Dinos disappeared off the radar for a couple of days but are back now as an essential part of the crew.
Another nosebleed last Sunday night left us all exhausted and blood splattered with me on the phone begging the Specialist Registrar at Great Ormond Street for an appointment – which resulted in a plan to be seen on Friday. As I said earlier in the week the football outing was stressful and the tiredness that comes with half term fast approaching we were not in a particularly happy place.
By Wednesday the evil reflux was back (thank goodness for wooden floors) – and it’s not a welcome return. Every now and again the thought crosses through my head that maybe we’ve seen the last of it, no more complaints of ‘fizzy mouth’, ‘yucky tastes’ and drinks/food revisiting us (usually at speed) having just been consumed. So now he’s tired, hungry, being sick and although we spent happy evenings building flats for the Cheetahs out of Duplo they weren’t really up for anything else.
Thursday brought it’s usual test of the ‘work/life balance‘. At the moment I’m pretty convinced that this balance is a mythical being – something that working mummies believe is achievable but isn’t (correct me if I’m wrong – all help welcomed!). Possibly trying to combine working, cake making, making bread dough for (and later running) Rainbows whilst worrying horribly about the forthcoming visit to GOSH isn’t an ideal combination in the search for this balance but that’s how it is in this house.
The appointments at GOSH were for both Giles and Alice and as they were going to have to leave school early they both knew we were going. I’d been relying on the Cheetahs coming with us to GOSH and was somewhat concerned to discover that they had gone off to Running Land for some racing training, the Dinos had gone to Dino Land to do some exercises and the Banana People had gone to (yes, you’ve guessed it) – Banana Land to do some press-ups. They had no intention of coming back because it was sunny there and they had to do a lot of keeping fit. I now realise that this was part of their keeper’s grand plan to stop us going to GOSH – if the Cheetahs were away we couldn’t possibly go.
Their keeper spent Friday morning trying every trick in the book to avoid going to school (and thus to the hospital) – including the refusing to get dressed one, refusing to eat breakfast, emptying our change tin over the floor and being thoroughly naughty (am I allowed to use that word? – I regard putting chocolate spread hand prints on the cream wall in the hall as pretty unacceptably behaviour) in the hope that he could spend the morning at home on the naughty step making it impossible to go to London. We finally got to school (he tried the not putting the shoes on trick too) where apparently he was as good as gold until he tried to tell the dinner lady on his table that he had to go out to play after lunch rather than go to the office meet me.
The Cheetahs thankfully had returned in time to join us for the drive into London and enjoyed train and plane spotting from their skateboards down the M1. Having reached our parking point at ZSL London Zoo we jumped in a taxi for the final trip to GOSH. The Cheetahs really like taxis. London taxis with the flippy down seats and lots of space in the back. That means that they can stand up and surf whilst the taxi is going along and when it stops or goes over a bump their fall on their bottoms. Hilarious.
When we go to GOSH I drop into GOSH mode. There seems to be a particular look of driven, exhausted, determination amongst GOSH parents – those coming to outpatients tend to look slightly less glazed than those doing an inpatient stay. Having done both it stirs up all sorts of emotions – the fact you’re grateful you’re not staying in this time, the fact you feel sick when you look up at the room where you stayed last time and remember all that visit entailed, the guilt that you’re walking out with your relatively healthy children to go to your comfortable home when so many others (with whom you instantly feel a bond even though you’ve never spoken) will be sleeping on a fold-out bed or in a chair that night and, in some cases, may never take their child home.
Don’t get me wrong, I am deeply grateful that my children are patients at GOSH – it’s the only hospital that can help us treat their respective problems and does so with amazing results. But for anyone who says “isn’t it good your children are at GOSH” – I’m afraid I don’t share that opinion. I cannot think that there is any parent who are pleased their child has to go to, or be in, hospital. No appointment is an enjoyable process, no inpatient stay is ‘good’ – we make the trip as stress-free as we possibly can and try and make it a positive experience, but it’s not ‘good’.
The Cheetahs however, came up trumps. First stop was the Haemophilia Centre; missing notes, magic cream (to help numb where the needle was going in) and then the blood test. The Cheetahs didn’t need magic cream for their blood tests as they were feeling very brave and their Granny and Grandpa Cheetahs had come with them to hold their paws. We tell Giles that they test his blood to see how clever and funky it is – so the Cheetahs had theirs tested for the same. They didn’t cry either and got a lolly afterwards as well.
My begging earlier in the week paid off in that the Ear Nose & Throat (ENT) Specialist Registrar was waiting for us – with the notes!! (For those unaccustomed to the NHS, this is a significant bonus). The result of that examination is that we will be going back for another appointment – to get everything in place ready for another operation to deal with the 2 blood vessels in his nose that are causing all the bleeds. Giles just knows that we’ll be going back – the Cheetahs don’t have nosebleeds so they won’t be having their noses checked, but I hope they’ll be coming to keep us company then because I think we’re going to need all the help we can get when he realises that another trip to Peter Pan ward is in order.
We took the Cheetahs back to London Zoo in another taxi and enjoyed a brief visit in gorgeous autumn sunshine. The Cheetahs do love the chance to have a run around and see the other animals and finally got to see the penguins have their tea at the new Penguin Beach exhibit. I’m quite sure that Giles would be happy to bring Ricky the Rockhopper Penguin home with us but we’ve convinced him that Ricky is happier showing off with his friends.
The Cheetahs decided to hook their skateboards to the back of our car to get home – all well and good until a bit of quick braking was required on the motorway (may I remind anyone towing a trailer that it’s a very good idea to connect your lights up because that way the people behind you can have a fighting chance of knowing what you’re doing?) and the Cheetahs flew up into the sky and ended up in space. Thankfully their keeper’s sister produced a very long handled net and rescued them but it was a close shave…
We spent the evening discovering quite how much money from the change tin has made its way into Giles’s money box. We knew that he’d been appropriating the odd few pence and it seems that the Cheetahs have caught up on this and have been raiding the tin to ensure that they have enough money for their train and air fares to get to Running Land. I’d prefer that they’d asked (seeing as I have to pay for their taxi fares, it isn’t usually a problem) as they seem to have acquired themselves just under £14. They’ve left out 3p for their next flight – either there’s a whole load of trips coming up and I suspect I ought to have a word with them about asking before they take things.
I’ve been informed that lots of Cheetah friends, Banana People friends and Dino friends moved in last night and that we need to build them so more places to sleep out of the bricks. They need to be snuggly places because it’s getting colder now and they don’t want to sleep in shoes whilst it’s cold. They’re going to stay for 900 days… or at least until Christmas. On questioning what the Cheetahs do at Christmas I was informed that the little Cheetahs get the Mummy Cheetahs to log onto Father Christmas’s website (which incidentally is apparently christmas.com) and then chose their “please may I have” list from there. Cheetahs of the 21st Century? Definitely.