Quick, nurse! Pass the defibrillator!

If you are reading this, you are probably lost.

If you are intentionally here, I can’t imagine what brought you.

This blog hasn’t been updated in two and a half years. In that time, the trend of individuals moving material that they once typically would have shared via a home page, blog or something of that nature off the open Internet and behind the impenetrable corporate ramparts of a rotten bunch of wankers collectively known as Facebook has continued apace.

Anyone unwilling to submit to the hegemony of this loathsome company now finds themselves isolated from everything from the narcissistic ramblings of strangers, through the musings and news of friends and family, to perhaps even photos of their own children, placed on-line by their spouse.

The content of the little person has been misappropriated appropriated given away. Talk has never been so cheap, and the transitory has never been so temporary.

That goes some way towards explaining why this blog hasn’t been updated for so long: virtually no-one cares to read it.

That’s only half the explanation, though. No-one cares to write it, either. Specifically, I don’t. I have neither the time nor the inclination to continue to publicly ram my abundant indignation down the world’s throat. I don’t care what you think, I don’t care whether you know what I think, and neither of us is going to convince the other of anything. So, let’s just shut the fuck up, shall we?

Today, however, is something of a momentary exception, because I do have something important to announce to friends and family and, well, I don’t really have another medium primed to do it.

Without further ado, let me say that the world was made a slightly better place this week by the addition to its ranks of a girl, henceforth to be known as Lidewij Linnea Imogen Saga Macdonald.

Lidewij made her grand entrance at home, attended by her sister, two brothers and, of course, her parents, at 20:59 on 03-03-2014. She weighed in at 3.770 kilos and is thriving, in spite of the chaos she has been born into.

Since Sarah and I have no plans for a fifth child, this could well be the last entry that this blog ever receives.

The Holiday Is Over

The summer holiday is over, although one could be forgiven for failing to have noticed that it had ever begun.

Eloïse is back at school, but now a fully fledged eersteklasser. The transition was painless; enjoyable, even. All of the children in the higher years assembled in the eurythymy hall and sang to the new eersteklassers as they entered the room, crossing a symbolic wooden bridge in the process. It was a touching sight and another poignant reminder of the inexorable march of time, those grains of sand slipping ever faster through our fingers, our children growing, ripening, finding their way in a world that is ever more alien, inhospitable and unlikeable to their father. The older they get, the more they learn to cope with and take their world for granted. The older I get, the more out of step I feel with the world I live in, as if this planet and I have deviant orbits, and I am watching myself become ever more tangential to the society I nominally inhabit. Sometimes, my family feel like the only tethers binding me to this earth.

With school come all of the extracurricular activities that fill the weekly calendar, leaving scarcely enough time to do groceries and eat meals. Even finding the time to shave, shit and shower can be a challenge now. At least two of those activities can be deemed non-essential and indefinitely postponed.

Ilias continues to thrive, his incarceration in the hospital now little more than an anecdote that I still recount almost daily to those we haven’t seen since his birth. It’s interesting to gauge the reactions, which run the gamut from those who think the doctors saved his life, to those who think that the integrity of our family was violated by a bunch of arrogant bastards in white coats.

Florence and Mike returned to Providence a week ago. I can’t thank them enough for the support they gave the children and me while Sarah and Ilias were being wrung through the medical mangle. I don’t know how we would have coped without them.

Ilias’ Saga Draws To A Close

As hoped and anticipated, Ilias was discharged from hospital today.

We delayed going to the hospital to pick him and Sarah up until the afternoon, so that Eloïse and Lucas could attend a clay modelling activity at the VUmc‘s truly amazing Kinderstad facility at 15:00.

Kinderstad has to be seen to be believed. Just about every kind of toy imaginable can be found there, from building blocks to a Nintendo Wii, from football to fancy dress, from finger paint to a gigantic two storey slide, from the cabin of a real aeroplane to a suite of Apple Macs for making movies, from television and Internet to complete DJ suites for mixing records. There is so much to see and do that the children who come here can forget, even if it’s just for a short while, that they’re sick.

Kinderstad isn’t just for sick children, though. Brothers and sisters are welcome, too, which is good, because Eloïse and Lucas can get a lot more out of the place at the moment than young Ilias. Even children returning for out-patient treatment at the polyclinic are welcome.

We didn’t want to deny Eloïse and Lucas their last real opportunity to play there, so we took our time in getting to the hospital. Sarah was in no real rush to leave, anyway. It was her seventh day in residence there and she had grown used to her temporary surroundings, perhaps even enjoying to some degree the peace and quiet of her enforced pseudo-solitary confinement.

After Eloïse and Lucas finished up in Kinderstad, we went to the hospital’s dispensary on the other side of the road to pick up Ilias’ prescription, enough Amoxicillin for another four days of treatment, making for ten in all. He gets it three times a day, orally, via a syringe.

With that in the bag, we left the building and, without looking back, headed home to resume normal family life. The coming days will see us gradually putting this experience behind us, learning whichever valuable lessons we can from it, and retaining whichever peripheral benefits there are to be gleaned, such as the new-found willingness of Eloïse and Lucas to be put to bed by their papa.

The last week has been a stressful, hectic experience. With nary a moment to draw breath, the time has flown by surprisingly quickly. It’s hard to believe this all began last Wednesday. At the same time, I paradoxically feel as if I’ve been making the journey to the hospital for several weeks. Ilias’ sojourn in hospital hangs like a black hole in the firmament of my memory. In time, we’ll look back on the photos of him with a tube stuck in his tiny head, shake our own head and say, ‘Remember that?’

Thank you to everyone who has written with well wishes and kind words over the last few days. Your concern was and still is much appreciated. In particular, I must thank Sarah’s folks, without whom I really don’t know how I would have coped. They fed the family and looked after Ilias’s siblings while I was at the hospital with my baby boy and his mother.

The staff of the VUmc are also due a word of thanks, particularly the nurses (and even more particularly nurse Jansje), who took very good care of Ilias and Sarah while they were somewhat reluctant guests there. They made an awful situation tolerable and we are truly appreciative of that.

And now, back to normal life, whatever that is.

One Step Closer

Ilias underwent his mictie cystogram this afternoon, somewhat later than planned, because of a miscommunication somewhere between the children’s ward and the radiology department.

Upon arrival in Radiology and the removal of Ilias’ nappy, the radiologist was surprised to find that a catheter had not yet been placed. After a brief exchange with our nurse, we left with Ilias and made our way to the department where this unfortunate adventure had all begun last Wednesday afternoon. There, two nurses soon appeared and proceeded to insert a catheter into Ilias’ bladder via his tiny penis, an experience that was as gruelling for me as it was for my little boy. Easy to say, I know, as someone who had only to watch, not actually have it done to him, but the experience caused me quite some distress. There’s no experience that compares to the agony of watching your child in pain and being unable to help.

Back in Radiology, the mictie cystogram itself was much less of an ordeal. Sarah and I donned lead overcoats to protect us from the radiation — no such luck for Ilias, of course — and he was hooked up to the bag of contrast fluid, which was then slowly pumped into his bladder.

Sarah and I watched on the screen, as the fluid diffused to fill Ilias’ tiny bladder, colouring it black in the process. The liquid itself had no colour, but whatever it contained showed up black on the screen.

To my inexpert eye, the fluid appeared to remain entirely within the bladder, but I’m not a doctor, so we waited for the end of the procedure. With all of the necessary x-rays taken, the balloon holding the catheter in place was deflated and Ilias began to pee, causing the catheter to be ejected from his body, which denoted the end of the procedure.

We had expected to have to wait until the evening for the results of the test, but they were so unambiguous that we were immediately informed that nothing unusual had been found. The relief and happiness I felt at hearing this news is the greatest I have felt since Ilias was born, almost four weeks ago. I can’t describe how elated I felt.

We returned to the children’s ward and, within half an hour or so, the paediatric nephrologist turned up to discuss the results of the examination.

It was good news, obviously, and meant that, at this point, his infection could be attributed to sheer bad luck. Exactly how it occurred, we’ll never know, but we’re told it almost certainly occurred internally, in the bowel or possibly via the bloodstream, but almost certainly not via a nappy full of excrement, as I had originally thought.

This isn’t quite the ‘all clear’, however. We’re told that the original infection carries a risk of permanent kidney damage, which could lead to a lifelong dependency on medicine against high blood pressure. We won’t be able to establish whether this is the case, however, for a further six months, at which time the nephrologist wants us to come back for a nuclear examination, which involves injecting radioactive liquid into the body and observing how it clings to the kidneys. You can imagine how eager we are to inject radioactive material into our son’s body, can’t you?

Ilias’ infusion needle failed this morning. Rather than place another needle in his body, he has instead been switched over to oral antibiotics. The danger with these is that he becomes sick with diarrhoea or vomits some or all of it out. If that doesn’t happen, there’s a good chance that Ilias will be discharged from hospital Tuesday afternoon, but we’re not counting out chickens until they actually hatch.

Eloïse and Lucas have gone to bed this evening for the sixth night without their mother. Before this derailment of our lives, they had never spent a night apart from her, or even in a different room. They both miss Sarah and Ilias very much, but are proving very resilient in the circumstances. Eloïse tells me she misses Ilias the most, because she has known him only a short amount of time.

Indeed, it’s pitiful that Ilias has now spent a quarter of his short time on earth in residence at the hospital. What a way to start out your life, pricked like a pincushion, pumped full of antibiotics and with a pipe rammed down your pisser. Having a thermometer stuck up your arse several times a day is almost light relief by comparison!

His first three weeks at home now seem distant, overwhelmed by the drama of the last few days and the deep impressions made by his new surroundings, invasive medical treatment and the fears and concerns that have beset us.

My two visits a day to the hospital are now part of the daily rhythm of life. I feel as if I’ve been making that same journey for weeks. Today, I actually only went once, because I stayed from 11:45 to 18:15, so there didn’t seem to be much point in going back.

Tomorrow, Eloïse, Lucas, Sarah’s folks and I will head to the hospital after lunch; possibly for the last time. We hope to hear in the course of the afternoon that we can take Ilias home. I don’t dare focus on it, just in case there’s a setback that prevents it from happening, but I hope that the family won’t have to spend another night apart.

Temperature Normal

Ilias sleeping in hospital yesterday

The good news is that Ilias is doing well.

The results of the urinal culture came back yesterday and showed E. coli bacteria in his urinal tract. This was as suspected.

We’re hoping he suffered just a fluke and got some poop in his piss pipes, but he’ll be undergoing a mictie cystogram tomorrow afternoon to make sure that he doesn’t have any anatomical defects that may have precipitated the issue.

I don’t know the English word for mictie cystogram, but they basically inject contrast fluid into his bladder via a catheter and wait to see whether any flows upwards towards his kidneys, which would indicate a bad valve. If that happens, he may need an operation, so we’re really hoping it doesn’t. Just watching them insert the catheter is going to be bad enough. Even the doctors will admit that it causes “discomfort”, which tells you enough.

Other than a possible physical abnormality somewhere, he’s fine, though. His temperature has returned to normal and he continues to drink healthily from the breast. Visually, at least, he is a picture of perfect health. Hopefully, the same is true of his plumbing.