“Cheetahs in my Shoes” is based entirely on the stories of The Cheetah Keeper who, in order to make sense of the chaos that is life and his assorted medical problems, all of a sudden, discovered a pair of (imaginary) cheetahs living in his trainers. These cheetahs have subsequently bred, travelled, invited friends to stay and continue to provide us with a way of getting through what being 4 brings.
I’m a mummy, not a medical expert in anyway, so what I write about our medical conditions is how I understand them and how they affect us. They are by no means meant as a source of fact – but I hope what I write may help others in the same boat. I’m becoming more and more interested in how children in long term pain or discomfort or under long term stress use imaginary play and imaginary friends to help them cope – so let me know if you have any ideas, clues or thoughts on the matter… please.
So to introduce usThe Cheetah Keeper (born May 2007) The keeper of the Cheetahs, Dinos and Banana People – Mr Imagination! Funny, cuddly and generally has his beloved giraffe Tesco (That’s what it said on his label!) tucked firmly under one arm whilst being about 2 paces behind the rest of the world, deeply suspicious of new experiences, changes in terrain and having files at most hospitals within a 20 miles radius of us here in sunny St Albans. He is hypermobile (with the diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Type III expected when he’s a little older), suffers from reflux and has a platelet function defect which means when he bleeds his blood doesn’t clot properly. He has lots of nosebleeds, needs insoles in his shoes to try and correct his turned out foot and when poorly, does it in style. When well, he loves his football, digging for worms, trains, the zoo and generally trying to catch up with all the things that he should be doing whilst being 4 but missed out on learning how to do whilst he was poorly. The Cheetah Keeper’s Sister (born April 2005) An extra tall adrenaline junkie mermaid who likes nothing better than throwing herself into water with little or no regard for the temperature or distance she needs to travel. Equally happy when immersing herself in ‘make and do’ projects, ideally those that require the use of pink, purple and glitter. She also has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Type III which has affected her speech and fine motor skills but didn’t really affect her gross motor skills until she had a nasty bout of Scarlet Fever in January 2010. After intensive therapy in Great Ormond Street Hospital in August 2010 she made an amazing recovery and although has a tendency to over do things (and subsequently end up really tired) generally is out there, trying everything, taking it all in and making the most of it. Me – Jenny Mummy (and hospital co-ordinator) to the Cheetah Keeper and his sister and married to M. I too have Ehlers Danlos Type III but wasn’t diagnosed until I was 31 despite years of joint problems, lots of operations and a frequent flyer pass at the GP. A ‘serial volunteer’ and lover of a good project – ideally to distract me from more mundane stuff like housework! Currently involved with GirlGuiding as a Rainbow Leader, helping fundraise for and playing the piano for the choir at Mandeville School and looking for any opportunity to indulge myself in my love of baking – ideally something that can be covered in butter icing! Dad… Prefers to remain anonymous