After not getting to sleep until 11.20pm on New Year’s Day, I was desperate for my daughter to see a doctor about her worsening tummy ache. But everyone wants to see a doctor straight after a holiday and she wasn’t deemed an emergency, so we were given an appointment for the following Tuesday. The doctor I spoke to on the phone said in the meantime we should increase the dose of the dreaded chocolate medicine from two doses to three a day.
‘Does she take that well?’
Not exactly. There’s tears, shaking, retching…
Remarkably, though, she took the news of the extra dose quite well. The tummy ache was so bad that the need to eradicate it over-rode her fear of the medicine.
Then the phone rang. It was the doctor again. She’d been thinking about it. Maybe do three doses for two days, then increase it to four for the last two days before she got to see a doctor.
That was too much for my daughter. Her face dissolved, there was some panicky breathing and a lot of tears. I had to be vague and skirt round the issue of whether we would actually do four doses, just to stop her crying.
That day, she couldn’t eat much of her tea. She told me she wasn’t really having pudding any more as it hurts her tummy (this is the girl who LIVES for pudding). As I cleared the kitchen, she was in tears with the pain.
I settled her with a warm bath and a story and she enjoyed sorting out birthday presents for my dad. But it was getting late.
‘You need to go to bed in a minute.’
Her face was horrified. She hadn’t managed to actually go to bed for days – she kept having to lie on the settee or in our bed because her tummy was hurting. I knew it had now got to the point where the thought of going to bed was making her nervous and making her tummy hurt more.
Apart from wanting her to get better, we wanted to reclaim the very small bit of evening we usually have left after the kids have (more or less) gone to bed. Vague plans to have one night out together over the Christmas period had gone out of the window as we couldn’t leave my daughter with my mum in that state.
‘What would make you go to bed without your tummy hurting?’ asked my husband. ‘A telly in your room?’
He was offering her a no-strings attached telly for her room. It should have been a dream come true.
‘No. Someone in the room with me.’
And that someone was me. I’d held her hand as she fell asleep for the best part of two weeks and she wasn’t going to go to sleep without me. When she’d struggled with sleep in the past, I’d sat on a chair on the landing close to her room (and my husband thought I was mad doing that), but that wasn’t good enough. I had to move a chair into her room. I sat there until 11.15.
For the next few days I was on the landing until she went to sleep, usually at around 11. But there was a warning. It would stop once she’d been to the doctor’s.
Three doses a day seemed to ease the tummy ache, although not the fear of going to bed on her own. Four doses wasn’t easy to fit into our lives, but we did it, albeit reluctantly on my daughter’s part.
The doctor listened to our saga and checked her over. There was still a blockage, but not as bad as previously, so either it hadn’t got as bad in the first place or the medicine was starting to take effect.
He asked us why she hadn’t had it in autumn, but had suffered in summer and over the Christmas holidays. Either it had just been building up over the few months between summer and Christmas or, I thought, it was down to inactivity and a lack of dance lessons. We’re not totally lazy over Christmas, we do go for walks and go out, but we are certainly a lot less active than at other times. Much of dancing comes through the stomach muscles, so dancing four days a week would keep everything strong and moving.
She’s back down to three doses of medicine a day. She likes to take her middle dose at school as apparently she does it in ‘seconds’. It still takes 10 minutes at home. She will go down to two doses in a few days and then one. She has strict instructions to keep active and keep dancing over Easter.
Even after all the medicine and, despite getting better, she still couldn’t eat her tea on the day she went to the doctor. But she did go to sleep around 9.30, without me sitting outside her room. Hopefully we’ve broken that cycle, now we just need to get rid of the tummy aches once and for all!