Wasn’t last week’s #definenormal brilliant? *bows down in direction of Renata* I’ve read some awesome posts and ‘met’, in the way that you ‘meet’ people in this cyber world, some really really lovely, inspiring people who have left some equally lovely and humbling comments. It’s been a pleasure and a real thought provoker.
This week the opportunities to write about ‘normal’ in our house have been many. Mountains of cake, Easter Bonnets made of Rice Crispie cake (it seemed a good idea at the time), another bout of tonsilitis and running around like headless chickens would all feature highly. However, it seems a better idea tell you a little about why I write a blog called “Cheetahs In My Shoes” and the fact that I currently live with 200 (imaginary) Cheetahs, a varying number of Banana People, 48 Dinos (please note, Dinos, not Dinosaurs) and 48 Dino Brothers, all called ‘Strike’ who flew in from Spain.
The Cheetahs came first. Just a pair of them. Inspired (we assume) by the Cheetah Keeper’s love of the Cheetah cubs born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo almost 2 years ago. We were there the afternoon they were first let out on show to the public. He has adored them ever since.
Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is also known as Benign Joint Hypermobility Syndrome or Hypermobility Syndrome. With us, it affects our joints and all our other connective tissue. For the Cheetah Keeper it means (amongst a whole load of other things) that his left foot turns out – from the hip. That meant that his feet hurt in his shoes. So how did he try and explain his feet hurt? There were Cheetahs in his shoes biting his toes. So we used to take them out, put them in his pockets (so they could be stroked if necessary) and then he could put his shoes on.
Only when we saw the podiatrist from Great Ormond Street Hospital did she take this completely as ‘normal’ – for a 2-3 year old to explain why his feet hurt.
OK, if that bit was ‘normal’ I’m not sure what the rest of it classes as. The Cheetahs have bred, invited friends over (who tend to stay), bred a bit more, invested in a comprehensive transportation offer, taken up both education and employment, have all sorts of clothing and a long list of what they like to do and like to eat. They sometimes return to the shoes to sleep but spend most of the time wherever the Cheetah Keeper is – and they do like a snuggly warm blanket at night.
The Banana People initially started off living under our house but moved in during the Autumn (it was just too cold) and the Dinos were inspired by a visit to the (fibreglass) dinosaurs at Knebworth House. Why the Strikes flew in from Spain (we’ve never been there) I’m not sure.
They’re the Cheetah Keeper’s coping strategy. They come to the hospital, the come to blood tests, they go to school, they come on holiday and sometimes they just stay at home and play in the garden (or come to work with me!). It depends how he’s feeling. Sometimes they’re everywhere (ie times of stress), sometimes we think they may no longer be needed. When they reappear it’s time for me to try and work out what’s bothering him.
They’re also the finest form of distraction that I have ever known. Whilst only being blamed for a little bit of mischief (if the Cheetahs are small enough to live in shoes, they can’t do too much damage to stuff unless they all gang up) they are also a brilliant way of getting him out of a strop, taking his mind off a needle being stuck in his hand and getting him to think about what other people around him may be experiencing. Oddly enough, they sometimes really need whatever toy/gadget/foodstuff he’s got his eye on at the time.
I somehow suspect that no-one else lives with 200 imaginary Cheetahs who live in shoes, bite toes and fly an aeroplane. Or indeed Dinos that like eating out at the Harvester or Banana People who have multiple tiny doors that mean they can get around the house. For me it’s normal. Well kind of.