Thursday, March 04, 2010

Frickety Frackety Froo

Sapphire has Whooping Cough.

We found this out a month ago after being told by a doctor with all the warmth of an Eastern Bloc passport controller that she only had a 'wet chest'. On our second visit to the multi-medi-mega-clinic another cranky quack with the bedside manner of a cool person enduring our company whilst looking behind us for someone cooler to treat just announced that it was merely the Hundred Day Cough and she'd be right as rain.

Yeah, as in the kind of rain that drums down ceaselessly from December to March, washing away all topsoil, roof tiles, small cars and cement garden statues in its path. Decent Doctor Number Three actually took an interest in properly examining a pale and exhausted ten year old kid who clutched her head and sides every time a thirty-second coughing fit commenced and ordered a blood test. This revealed that it was (is) Whooping Cough.

Four rounds of antibiotics and a visit to an Allergy Specialist later, Sapphire has now caught a cold and the sort-of-sedated Whooping Cough Wanker has decided that it's no longer okay to just attack her spasmodically and eventually fade away. No, now it's time to make her decide between blowing her nose, breathing, sleeping or breaking out into a red-faced, sweaty ball of agony when WCW forces her to endure a gasping round of coughs so violent it makes the room ring.

After two days of fresh misery, we knew it was time to take her back to Decent Doctor.

Here's where I admit something to you, dear reader. No, not the black dog or the fact that I blow my nose in the shower. It's that I don't like driving in Melbourne.

Even in our little local neck of the woods, lying in the shadows of the Big Yellow Cheese stick and Jeff's Red Hair at the City Link entrance, it is busy, incessant, fast and confusing. Our main thoroughfare, Racecourse Road, is, unfortunately, not full of race horses these days. It has four lanes - two each way - and two tram lines running through the middle of it. Trucks, vans, cars and bikes travel on their way to the city from Ballarat, Sunshine and Geelong and the sound is deafening. Sapphire's doctor works on this road.

Safeway supermarket is there too. I decided to leave our car in their park so that if we needed to get anything for the chemist after the doctor's appointment, we'd be right there. Plus, it would mean that any need to find a spot down a side-street large enough for me to glide into (the last time I parallel parked successfully was my driving test in 1985) like Greyhound bus would not result in us finding a spot roughly further away than our own home.

I drive this way at least once a week to do the grocery shopping and dread it every time. It’s always a bugger to get in there because it is a right turn on the very site of two tram stops and an adjoining intersection that has been marked KEEP CLEAR. No matter how I approach this turn, I get angrily beeped if I take time to stop and turn right safely or get flicked The Finger if I pull out onto the tram lines and try to squeeze through just as the light clicks to red.

Yesterday, as I was turning (on a green light, with a merciful break in the traffic from the opposite direction) I noticed that there was a tram at the stop, still collecting passengers. It's general knowledge/courtesy that you must give way to trams, so I tried to reverse back. Unfortunately there was a car right behind me with no space to move and several more behind that one. All I could do was stop. My nose was over one line.

I expected a few angry 'ding ding dings' from the tram driver before he'd let me turn in front of him, but instead he started driving, taking the right front bit of my car with him.

The painfully slow screeching sound ended and I drove into the carpark, tram passengers all open-mouthed and shoppers idly entertained by the latest bingle.

Pulling the handbreak on and yanking the key out allowed the sobbing to start as my hands wildly groped around for the phone and a hankie. I slowly got out of my seat and Sapphire - the sick one, the ten year old old child - rushed around to comfort me.

She peered around the front. "It's not bad at all Mum, honestly."
I couldn't look, but kept crying, waiting for Love Chunks to answer the phone. "Breathe Mum. Breathe." Her hands were so soft and her eyes so big and blue.

The tram driver came over, still dramatically shaking his head and muttering. Part of it was a performance for his passengers, part of it might have been shock. Then he saw me up close, blubbing on about trying to take my daughter to her medical appointment for whooping cough.... He ended up giving me a hug and some comforting pats on the shoulder before we swapped details. Some onlookers brushed the hair out of Sapphire's eyes. "You poor thing. Get better soon, okay?"

Sapphire was utterly brilliant; it was she who was the mature and calm one, despite feeling sick. I still couldn't look at the car and figured that it might as well sit there whilst we saw the doctor.
The second round of Whooping Cough blood test results weren't back yet as they had to be sent to an Infectious Diseases place for more analysis. The doctor found that Sapph had a temperature and needed to have a couple more days at home taking it easy. "At this rate I'll be up to season five of Friends," she grinned. "Oh Mum, don't cry."

The expense, the inconvenience, the shame, the stupidity! LC had got on his bike, left work and met us in the car park as Sapph and I sat on the kerb waiting near a stinking wheelie bin. "Hey Mum it must be bad if I can smell it," she said giggling, "because my nose doesn't work right now. Maybe someone did a sh--- sorry 'a poo' in it?"

LC was so kind, so reassuring and could see how stupid I felt about it. This made me cry even more. After wrestling with the bit of the bumper that was dragging on the ground, he drove the car home and I wheeled his bike back with Sapphire, who insisted on joining me. "Hey Mum, none of us were hurt, or anybody else and our car is already old. It doesn't matter. And look - they've finally painted the haunted house over there!"

Her chatter was incessant and forced me to reply. So funny and so wise.

As LC rang around for quotes to get the front fixed, Sapphire and I lay on her bed and she talked about the friendship woes she was having. "She's changing, Mum and I don't like how all she wants to do is be with the cool kids. She used to say how silly they all were and now she runs away from me and tries to be like Alyssa."

"You're changing too, love. You're seeing that being cool isn't what it's cracked up to be and you're wanting to go in a completely different direction. Both of you are growing and changing."

"But I want my old friend back," she said quietly. It was her time to cry now. "I want my old friend that I could tell everything to and ask her for advice. I don't want the new one."

"I know and I also know that it's not easy to see who else is out there and what things they like. But you will. There are people there who don't know you yet because you've been joined at the hip with your friend and haven't allowed anyone else in. Now it's time to do that. And trust me, they'll want to get to know you."

"Thanks Mum. You've been really helpful. You're my friend too."

Dammit it was my time to cry. Again.


Pandora Behr said...

Hugs from Richmond side of things, Bad days happen, cars get dinged and driving in Melbourne is like one big Dequetteville Terrace roundabout at times. But please have faith that you sound like the best mother in the world, blessed with a fantasic family. At least, as Sapphire says, nobodys hurt - the diagnosis is in - and you're all supported. Hugs again.

River said...

Damn!! I wrote an essay for a reply and got a message saying it could not be published. Now it's gone forever. Same thing happened I being censored somehow? There weren't any swear words in it.

Louise Bowers said...

I know those lights, I used to live in Kensington Banks and it used to scare the crap out of me too. Trams are road bullies and he shouldn't have rammed you. You should have got onboard the tram and bitch slapped the driver to teach him some manners.

Benjamin Solah said...

The road is chaotic. Such a hassle to get a taxi there. Hope you're car and you're ok.

Rowe said...

I can't believe the tram driver hit your car, Kath. What a day. Hope Sapph gets better soon - good advice you gave her about meeting new friends, but it is disappointing when the one you love best lets you down.

Plastic Mancunian said...

G'Day Kath,

Tram drivers, bus drivers, taxi drivers, white van drivers, lorry drivers are (mostly) arses - your story highlights that fact. Just because they are in a bigger vehicle.

You know what they say - BCSP (well they do in the UK anyway - well they do in Manchester - well in my house - when Mrs PM's not in).

Hope Sapphire gets better soon.



nuttynotons said...

sorry to hear about saph, give her our regards, she is right about the car as long as you are ok is the main thing cars can be replaced! I can understand your concern when we went through the outskirts of Melbourne in 2007 in rush hour it was mad!

I am glad we have on-line home shopping delivereies here now removed the stress from the shopping and the bored children and we live in a quieter area!

deepkickgirl said...

Oh you poor sausage! I don't how you live down there with those damn trams. I got stuck between two of them when I drove down the middle of one those malls in the middle of Melbourne some years back. That was a bloody awful/scary experience I can tell you.

We're all due a bingle once in a while, so consider yours ticked off the list for a while. Main thing is you're both OK.

As always you make the story into a beautiful family moment.

Hope Sapph is feeling much better soon. Whooping cough went round our circle of friends last year. Bummer

drb said...

Shocking tram driver!!!!
Very glad that you are all fine.

I am afraid to drive in melb, which is why I don't drive.

Are you and LC immunised against whoopping cold?

Baino said...

Oh Kath, I can't believe he actually scraped you stupid man. I don't know how you drive in Melbourne frankly, trams freak me out completely and that funny right turn thingy where you can sit in the middle of the road on a red light. Weird. Sorry to hear about the whooping cough too, I stupidly thought that once kids had their triple antigen inoculations they couldn't get it. She's a wise old soul that little girl of yours. Give her a squeeze for me. Friends come and go but the good ones are always around . . .and there's nothing wrong with a good cry, cleans out the system!

Kath Lockett said...

Today we had a rather dramatic hailstorm here, with balls the size of twenty cent pieces. It was a bit ironic to think that I was glad the car was at the smash repairers, because it was at least out of the weather and not likely to be as pock-marked as some of the other cars in our street.

Cat J B said...

We don't have any pockmarks as far as I know, though I've seen some broken windshields and car windscreens. Hubby saw one as big as his fist.

I drive but NOT in Melbourne city, it's my cardinal rule, those hook turns turn me into a blithering idiot, don't know where I'm supposed to look and when I need to turn without connecting with a vehicle or person.
Hope Sapphire is getting better, I had that as a kid too.

w/verification: mendu

new illuminati said...

Great description of a challenging time amidst the sound and fury of nature's lately inclement tidings. You're doing a great job on all fronts.
Those medicos would almost be a hoot if they hadn't managed to brainwash almost everyone into trusting their hopeless methodologies, prognoses and 'solutions'. Antibiotics! Try lots of vitamin c &/or fresh juices & keep her propped fairly upright - a must for all cases of congested lungs, it allows the system to drain.
(Glad you weren't on a bike - but then, tramlines are lethal traps for bike wheels anyway.)

Lidian said...

Oh my stars, what a day. You truly did all the right things, and what wonderful family you have too...You are really blessed. And I also think you are very brave and clever to drive there because this is exactly why I stopped driving here - I promised my DH I would drive if/when we move to northern Ontario someday but NOT in the city. Too crowded, scary and such rude scary people on the road...ugh.

I hope Sapphire feels much better soon!