She came out of hospital with the doctors a little confused at what had made her ill. She was going through the recovery stages of pneumonia so it was put down as this on the discharge letter.
We have learnt with Sally that your body is extremely complex and also very good at fixing itself, often with some help from medicine. I've lost count how many times I've seen the senior consultants scratching their heads and saying they don't know what the problem is, they will treat it as something with the hope that it works. I've worked out doctors do a similar job to me in problem solving. I work with computers and apply a process of elimination and try to view the problem as multiple problems, the more experience you have the better the treatment as you're always looking at the bigger picture. I sometimes wish I had medical training rather than electronic training as I could probably help Sally more.
This does show how vulnerable Sally is and how rapid she can get seriously ill. Tracy and I have probably started to get a little more relaxed and not as alert compared with when she was in hospital nearly every week a couple of years ago. But its looks like for now we need to be back on full alert. This means making sure we carry a thermometer, calpol, nebuliser, inhalers at all times, as well as making sure one of us is always available on standby, so not more than one beer or one glass of wine if we fancy a drink. We have always said that if we think that she needs to be in hospital then she does. We rely on intuition, as our subconscious is a lot better at observing Sally and telling us when to act. We no longer contemplate whether or not we should get her checked out and just do it. It's amazing how you can adapt to circumstances and just drop everything, the normal routine, going shopping, going to bed at set times, having no sleep, driving between home and hospital, arranging care for Joshua and trying to fit in work and sort out the usual paperwork to run a family.
Sally is on the mend but she has had a bit of a relapse on the 8 December. The previous day she was very tired and was coughing a lot. I eventually laid her down my legs so her head was below her lungs, then as she coughed we could get the junk out of her lungs whilst we patted her back. This is really effective and Sally was soon sounding less wheezy with her lungs dryer. She can bring up over 20ml of fluid, which if it stays in her will no doubt make her very ill very quickly. She was awake during the night coughing again for an hour. The next day she was very tired and very wheezy so a trip to the local doctors saw us getting some steroids for her, she's not ill enough for a time consuming hospital visit at this stage, but you never know what tomorrow will bring. The good news is that she doesn't sound very crackly so hopefully no live infection. This is the downside of pneumonia, all the dead bacteria is still lying in her lungs and it is a slow process for her to cough it up and unclog her lungs.
Joshua has made a full recovery. It has taken a couple of weeks of him being very tired by 6pm and eating lots. I can now safely say he has enough food inside to last a couple of weeks. Joshua is getting very excited about Christmas and I've just heard him say ‘ho ho ho' in his sleep. We took him to see Father Christmas on Sunday at Poole's Cavern in Buxton. It was probably one of the best grottos, with Father Christmas sat at the end of the cave, with a colourful display of lights leading the way through a twisting and turning cave. I don't think Joshua actually realised he was in a cave he was that excited. He was very chatty to Father Christmas asking for an Action Man and some Christmas lights. Father Christmas told him Rudolph was sleeping in the dark behind him which Joshua was very excited about. Father Christmas was very impressed with Joshua's Ho Ho Ho'ing. We also had the ABC Christmas Party on the Saturday followed by Sally's school disco. We didn't tell Joshua about either until five minutes before and it worked a treat, he wasn't actually sick with nerves for the first time in weeks. He was very excited and managed to be the first child to see Father Christmas as he just barged in and giggled. It worked as he received his present first and then watched everyone else.
Both children had a night at Swanborne (respite house) last Monday which meant Tracy and I could go for a night out in Manchester. We visited the European markets, I ate lots of cakes and had a nice warm mulled German wine. It was very cold so much appreciated and a nice break considering the chaos of the previous few weeks.
Tracy eventually recovered from the week of little sleep whilst they were both in hospital but didn't rest too long as she wanted to get back to work, help out at her nursery's Christmas fair, run ABC+ youth club, run the ABC Christmas party and then help at Sally's school disco. Very few parents tend to help out at these events so Tracy is always offering. It's amazing that you either get parents who don't help and just sit on the sidelines during these events or parents who are helping at multiple events for a range of charities, schools or groups. The teachers at Sally's school all gave up their Saturday evening to run the disco with Sally extremely giddy, marching around the hall, trying to grab biscuits off the food table, which unfortunately she cannot eat, and then dancing the night away with everyone. An excellent disco.
Tracy also had a public speaking night for some parents of young special needs children. This is an annual night where a few new parents of special needs children get to hear Tracy's experiences and wonder how she manages to stay sane. It's organised by Tracy's nursery and it's a great opportunity to tell parents about the ABC group and that life can continue once you've had a special needs child.
An interesting little story whilst Tracy was in hospital, was a parent complaining to a nurse that she hadn't slept for one night and generally having a good moan to the nurse. I think at this point the nurse snapped as she told the parent to go look at Tracy who hadn't slept for six nights, in other words stop moaning. Tracy was bent over Sally giving her the nebulizer whilst struggling to keep her eyes open. We get very good support from the hospital staff who see us as one of the regulars they can have a chat with as well as a laugh and joke.
I recovered from tonsillitis which was speeded up as Tracy was near to collapse during the hospital week and then went back to work, which is very busy at the moment. My lack of hospital sleepovers came to an end and I did the last night getting a full 40 minutes sleep. Luckily Sally then came home the next day and soon got back into the routine of sleep once she was in her own bed. As I have said before there are always ups and downs. The up this week was seeing Sally have a fabulous time at the disco, Joshua in dreamland with Father Christmas and then I won a Sony PSP in my company's annual quiz night in Cambridge, a new toy to play with.
Just to add to the stresses my body decided to fail me on Saturday morning. I came out of the shower at 8am and whilst I was drying myself I had shooting pains from my lungs to the point where I couldn't lift my arms up or stand. It felt like someone had just poured sand into my lungs and was trying to crush me. I sat on a chair and leaned forward to relieve the pain. After about five minutes I hobbled upstairs and collapsed on the bed. I wasn't sure what had happened but guessed it wasn't my heart as I was still there! After some pain killers and a thirty minute lie down the pain became less severe and I hobbled downstairs. Tracy was out early for her nursery Christmas fair so I lounged around the house with the kids until about 12. It was painful to lift my arms so I encouraged Sally to walk to the car and climb in. The pain reduced throughout the day and I put it down to some muscle somewhere that had been twisted. I checkout out NHS Direct on the web on Saturday night and every diagnosis was call 999, thought I'd wait until the morning as it seemed better.
Sunday morning was similar so went to A and E to check I hadn't done anything serious to myself. Just in keeping with my family the doctor hadn't a clue what was wrong but happy it wasn't my heart, lungs or stomach. The usual "take pain killers and see your GP if it continues." It's now Monday night and luckily it seems to be vanishing so I must have twisted a muscle or something similar whilst coming out of the shower. So back to normal after a little blip! I'm obviously subconsciously jealous of everyone else visiting hospital.
With the run up to Christmas, the chaotic school diaries, the cold weather and Sally still not 100% we'll see if we manage to avoid hospital and lead a relatively normal life in the next couple of weeks.