Thursday, November 24, 2011


It's 9am and the corridor outside of her bedroom is dark, so I bend down gingerly to slide a note under her door.

'Sapph, I'm taking Milly out for a walk and a play before she bursts. I have my mobile with me, so call if you need anything. Mum xo'

My knees crack whilst straightening up and BANG I crack the top of my head on her door knob. My anguished screech of 'SHIT' shoots out without thinking and I hear Sapphire stir and call out to me; all my previously silent and considerate creeping around for nothing.

She's still sick and it's no longer a joke or an intriguing 'bug that's going around' or a pleasant opportunity for us to watch every conceivable version of Antiques Road Show, Attic Treasure, Flog It, Road Trip, Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, Ask Our Antiques Experts, Bargain Hunters or Nanna Has A Cracked Pot: Is it Worth Anything via the English channels.

The doctor, once pompous, then apologetic is now a combination of stumped and concerned. "The new drugs haven't worked - the bacteria is still there. No wonder you feel so ill, Sapphire." He even shows me the lab reports and the list of antibiotics that have been proven to work against the evil germ lurking in her belly. "This is supposed to work, it's supposed to fix things. Why hasn't it?" That's the question he asks before I do.

He'll be phoning the laboratory tomorrow, as they've now separated the bug and are testing other drugs on it to see if they can destroy it. "If not, it's time for the Diseases Unit in the hospital to help us." For some inexplicable reason, I'm really glad when he says 'us' instead of 'you' - he's now involved and seems to care. This kid ain't faking and needs help.

As we farewell him - yep, come back tomorrow and I'll also call you as soon as I hear again from the lab - I look down at the Sick Certificate he's given me to send to Sapphire's teacher. Instead of the usual ones that say Retourner a l'ecole and a date, this one states: Retourner est indeterminee. Sapphire sees me frown, snatches it from my hand to read what it says and starts to cry.

The mobile had a message for me. I didn't get the admin job via the Australian embassy. It was almost an entry-level role that they interviewed eight of us for. "Was it my bad French?"
"No, yours was as good as everyone else's."
What the? Come on, rally yourself, girl. "Oh. Never mind, I appreciate you considering me----"
"You could easily have done the job - all the panel agreed - but the person we offered it to has more experience than you."

Ah. More experience in being your niece? More experience in ordering lunchtime tables in perfect Francais? More experience in being a mindless wallah? More experience in ...... time to get off this bitter, pointless track and get ready to take the dog for a walk. Milly does several joy jumps before skidding on the parquetry when she sees me reach for my Outdoor Walking Coat - a 75% markdown from the H&M Mens' Section sized Extra Large. I look like a sleeping bag wrapped around a water tank, but damn if it doesn't keep me cosy.

Hopefully another job will turn up that doesn't involve nannying three children under five years or toilet cleaning for 15 francs an hour. A part-time Librarian's Assistant role looked promising until Selection Criteria Number Nine specified 'Must be fluent in both English and French and possess the ability to read and understand Russian, Spanish and Arabic.' All that to type in 'new additions to the library category coding system' for 18 francs an hour?

Swish Swish Swish whispers my jacket as I stride along, fuming. The bloody UN seems deliberately set up to actively prevent trailing spouses from gaining any form of employment. G-level (yes, as in ground, gofer, gormless, grovelling) employment pays less than our weekly grocery (yes, another G word) bill but still requires a high distinction after sitting their official admin skills test, proving I can speak two languages and understand three in the written form, possess an advanced Masters Degree in International Diplomacy or related issues and over eight years working specifically for international organisations.....

Whoah - the leaves are now long dead and dangerously slippery with damp, and I grab at a railing to prevent from falling. The sudden movement shakes the lump in my pocket - Love Chunks' new camera. Further down the hill, Milly sees Malou and surprises him with some attention and play as I stand there staring at the wealth of photo opportunities. Ice-crusted grass. Malou's excited face. Orange leaves. Pink sun rising through grey foggy sky and the cryptic spray painted 'Avatar Rules'on the lowest hanging branch of a nearby oak tree.

Drops splatter my face as Milly returns, giving her ears an extra-thorough flapping to signify that she's sick of Malou and ready to return home.

Sapph's on the sofa, folded up tightly to squash the stomach pain and resting Elmo - her sleeping partner of choice during times of illness or sadness - on her knees. The Outdoor Walking Coat is dropped to the floor as I dash over to hug her. Her hand lightly brushes against the top of my head, still throbbing from the fight with the door knob.

"I'm glad you're with me, Mum," she whispers.

Perhaps this is the right job for me right now.


Baino said...

Very worrying Kath, perhaps it's not an 'infection' since the antibiotics aren't working, let's hope the lab can come up with something to resolve it. As for the job thing...I've had loads of rejections from jobs that I'm well qualified to do. Often it's age related or that lovely excuse 'not the right cultural fit'. Bollox, it's because I'm over 50. Keep trying and wishing Saph a speedy recovery. Very worrying for you.

ropcorn said...

I really like your last sentence here. I mean, a mum is the best comfort one can have during an illness. But I do hope Sapphire gets well soon! Take care for now.

The Elephant's Child said...

Caring for Saph (and LC) is a job that you are superbly qualified for. I really hope that the lab comes up with magic to make herbetter soon.

The Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Kath,

Sorry hear about Sapphire's ongoing illness.

Mrs PM is prone to this kind of thing and has suffered in the past - in particular with a nasty bug that causes diarrhoea and was an absolute bugger to get rid of. I think there are still traces because she occasionally gets a flare up (in fact she is going back to the doctor in a few days' time having had yet another attack).

The good thing is that there will be some way that they can nuke the bug- I hope they do so soon. Mrs PM is proof of the magic that these lab magicians can conjure up.



River said...

I'm so sad to read that Sapphire isn't any better. I hope.....gosh, what to say here...I hope...I want her to be well, dammit! This is so hard for you. Forget about a job for now, start over once Sapphire is well.

Hannah said...

Oh Kath. And Sapphire. I've had four "mystery injuries" in my life, and that toe saga overtook 18 months of my life with endless antibiotics that did nothing, two surgeries, etc... which I'm mentioning because it *will* get better. It will. Something will be figured out and it won't be this awful forever.

Interestingly, I was at a meeting in Sydney this week about the rise of antibiotic resistance and the problems of incorrect and over-prescription. It worries me to hear the doctor say to you what he did, because we can't afford to run out of working antibiotics in this world. But this is just me rambling. All I really need to say is that I'm thinking of you and wishing you some answers and relief soon.

Vanessa said...

How worrying for you, and uncomfortable for Sapphire.
You are doing a wonderful job right now so damn those beauraucrats!

FruitCake said...

The "US" does sound like a great medical breakthrough. Best wishes to Sapph.

Kath Lockett said...

Baino - it's a bacteria, and I'm still sitting here, waiting, waiting, waiting for a call. Rang the doctor's office just then but got a message saying that they're shut from 12-pm - damn this French 'long lunch' culture!

Thank you Ropcorn. This 'job' does have its moments but arguing with the staff (ie Sapph) this morning when we're both tired, worried and suffering cabin fever makes me wish that there was a paycheck somewhere at the end. :)

EC, I'm glad that Love Chunks is the chef of the house - he came home to meet still mashing up microwaved potatoes in a disorganised attempt to make fish cakes for dinner. As I was gabbing away about Sapph, he gently took the masher from my hands and proceeded to turn a Kath-catastrophe into a delicious dinner.

That's good to know, PlasMan. Sapph's been a sufferer of stomach aches for pretty much her entire life, so after all this is sorted, we'll also look into diet and other triggers too.

River, I will. I'm forcing myself to not look at the UN or expat job sites until she's completely well again.

You're right about the antibiotic situation, Hannah. Sapph was only given some after the stool sample showed the bacteria - a full fortnight after her stomach aches began. Now though, I have no idea what they'll try next.

Thanks Vanessa. Three languages, a Masters Degree and at least eight years experience working in the UN means that it's highly likely that I'll be a 'UN wife', whatever that means....

Thank you Fruit Cake. I'm hoping that 'us' will also include a specialist from today.

Achelois said...

The bonus of the non work which is horribly disappointing for you is that people like me get to read your blog, which is a wonderfully eloquent read. My word you are exploding with qualifications and talent. I feel that the criteria requesting so many languages for such awful pay is a job that anyone able to fit the criteria should turn down on principal if they were in a position to do so. Exploitation comes to mind and if not that perhaps wishful thinking on behalf of the author of the job description. I mean they may as well have asked for Mary Poppins frankly. I hope that you do find work you both enjoy and is suitably paid for someone of your calibre.

My sister is currently in South Africa, whilst her husband is working there. She is highly qualified in her genre and is twiddling her thumbs whilst her husband works as she is prohibited from working due to the strict work visa applications. On the good side she has taken an interest in wildlife which is something that previously in her life has passed her by! So it is odd to receive emails full of enthusiastic informed ramblings of such.

I wonder perhaps when Sapphire is well which I hope is very soon! If you could volunteer. For some I know its agaisnt their principals but it may help to ward off cabin fever. On the other hand perhaps you could write a book.... ok I will be quiet now I am sure your mind must run amock with ideas and you surely don't need my suggestions to add to the pot.
Really really hope you have answers & solutions for Sapphire very very soon.

I went to Geneva with my family as a child and adored it.

Mrs Dump - Adelaide said...

Word Verification is Pugger - so close to Plugger that I felt it was ordering me to leave a message - rather than my normal lurking.
My heart goes out to you and Sapphire (and LC and Milly). I have fingers, toes and whatever else I can, crossed in the hope that the doctors can find something to beat the bacteria. All the best from the Dump Family, and keep on plugging on!

Romana said...

Kath - as parents and mothers we take on responsibility for our children's ailments, and obviously an unknown, powerful and lingering illness is particularly able to sap our power as carers and nuturers. The ridiculous job requirements unfortunately are just another example of something reducing our power over something us parents expect to have control over - helping provide for our family. Hang tight - Sapph WILL get better and you WILL find a productive way to spend your time once Sapph is on her feet.
xx Romana
(and many thanks for welcoming Clancy to our clan :) ).

ps. on word verification - mine is "bummu" which I read as "bum you"...I think it is giving Saph's illness and your employment journey the finger?!?

nuttynoton said...

Do you believe in fate?? may be this is all planned out for Saph to get better and a good job come along, I do but hope she gets better soon ready for you to enjoy your first Swiss Christmas

Kath Lockett said...

That's a nice way to look at things, Achelois - LC said the other day, "Well, you can write. That's what you should do."

And I will. In many ways. Just not so much while we don't know what exactly is wrong with Sapphire....

Thanks Mrs Dump and family - we're plugging away. It's amazing how many laughs we've had just dagging around at home. Sapphire's becoming quite a good mimic at some of the northern English accents that feature on a lot of British antiques programs.

Romana, I'd define 'bummu' as 'a series of unfortunate circumstances that you have no control over, except to find solace from funny home videos, pommy accents and toilet humour.' :)

I kinda sorta believe in fate, nn - especially in hindsight when Sapphire is well and I land the right job....

Elisabeth said...

Kath, What can it be? What's wrong with Sapphire

My baby who turned eighteen recently has had recurrent stomach problems for the past two years and we still don't know what's wrong.

It all culminated in the last two days. She's away from home at schoolies interstate and suddenly today sick as a dog.

Fortunately we have friends who live interstate and nearby who've taken her under their wing, but she's desperate.

What a way to ruin her new life as an eighteen year old post VCE.

It's worse for your little one, but it makes me wonder.

What's in the atmosphere? What is it about being away from home that attacks our children in their guts?

I hope Sapphire gets better soon. I hope my daughter gets better, too.

Pandora Behr said...

Perfectly right job for you at the moment is the Mum job - you couldn't be anywhere else and feel right about you.

Have been sending healing to your both - and may this be resolved very, very soon.


Jayne said...

(((hugs))) to you and Sapphire, I hope she's better soon, she must be feeling dreadful the poor kid :(