Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Five franc special

Feeling more fragile since the death of my friends' eighteen year old son on Monday from meningococcal disease, I confess to feeling more annoyed than concerned when Sapphire came home from school with her lingering stomach pains in full flight. Again.

She'd had four days off school last week with our doctor confident that it was just a minor bout of gastro. What for me might have been an uneasy, queasy night would be a week of recovery for Sapphire in light of her almost-indestructible stomach infection she was forced to endure for months late last year.

But she woke up on Tuesday in tears. "Mum, it still hurts."

A dilemma was duking it out within me - was she not able to buck up and tough it out, or was there really something wrong, a week after a meal of slightly-dodgy prawns? Her temperature - taken thrice daily on doctors' orders - in parts of the body that caused my child to smile bravely and say, "Hey, now I know how Milly feels when she goes to the vet," - was normal. Her glands were no longer swollen. Bowel functions were fine.

Her stomach, however, was painful to touch. Again. Blood was taken for testing and we were sent home with two specimen jars that signified their preferred contents via their brown-coloured lids.

These were dropped off this morning before Milly and I set off for a walk. Brown stuff doesn't get analysed locally but gets transported to Zurich. World centre of banking and body waste.

Today she is still in pain, especially when she eats. It is cruel to watch. She's a beautiful thirteen year old girl who is starving but immediately after eating has to fold herself up for a while in a futile attempt to squash the gut stabbings away.

She is bored, too. The sun is blazing outside but she is inside feeling achey, tired and getting paler by the day. Music, reading, DVDs and a few cuddles from Milly before her friends get on the phone and ring her for an update after school.

With a diet so bland that even the lusted-after food before the flaming pain isn't exciting enough, I headed off to Migros to seek some alternatives to plain pasta and potato products. Sapphire was sleeping, so a hand-written note and smiley face was left on the table.

Climbing into the car - left side you idiot, not the right; how long have you lived here for now? - I somehow managed to scrape the key across the bulbous flesh at the end of my nose. Boy that hurt. A glance through teary eyes in the rear vision mirror showed no blood, just an angry glow.

My grocery unloading and packing skills have improved a great deal over the past twelve months. Hands a-blur as each item is laid onto the moving belt and I'm already out the other end flinging the heavy stuff into eco bags faster than the cheerless checkout chick can fling them. Before this improvement consciously moved from being noticed to smug satisfaction, she stopped catapulting cans and asked me a question. In French.

I shrugged and mentioned (in French) that I couldn't speak French. She lifted up my Bargain Brand bag holding four kilograms of small, second-grade oranges. "Sorry, I don't know the price." She phoned up some poor sap in the fruit section and, as she manually keyed in the correct amount, the bag split open and thirty citrus balls malevolently made a roll for it along the counter, under the floor by the baskets and over towards the oldies bench.

Check out chick's face remained utterly unmoved by my plight, her arms 
clamped to their sides in loyal adherence to the unwritten code of Care-Less Customer Service. 

One orange was left where it landed because even my ET-length fingers couldn't reach it beneath the 'Action' shelf fronting Aisle Five, 'Les produits de nettoyage.'

Dust bunnies were now on both knees, my face was red - geez my nose was stinging, probably got some dirt rubbed in it - and she held out her hand, wordlessly. Ah yes - the dumb English speaker was now required to hand over her store card. This dumb English speaker did so and even though I dearly wished to swish off with a smidge of self righteousness the lino floor nearly came up to meet me - my stupid shoelace had become caught in the back wheel of the trolley.

Hoppity hoppity hopping over to the oldies bench, the trolley had to be rolled back and forth like a tired parent with a new-born in a pram until the filthy circle was rotated enough to release my now-black shoe lace. 

Back in the underground car park of our building pushing two fully-laden nanna carts towards the lift, I saw an elderly neighbour from the sixth floor slowly and creakily emerge from his old beamer. I lingered so that the door could be held open for him and wondered how he'd usually manage on his own with a bag of shopping and a cane.

"Merci Madame!"

He's a nice old bloke. Whenever he sees Milly in the foyer, he always makes a big deal of her; ruffling her ears and showering her with lovely-sounding French sweet nothings as her tail thonks adoringly against the fake wood-lined walls.  A rebel too, as he’s the only person in our building with a novelty door mat. A basset hound wearing sneakers.

I pressed Number Six for him and Number Eight for me. He doesn't speak English so we both smiled politely and pointed at our respective purchases. "Supermarche?" "Oui."

When we reached six, he hobbled towards the three-segment silver door that slid open to reveal another saloon-style door. This is very heavy and cumbersome to open at the best of times and must feel like a fortified drawbridge during a siege for this old man. I instinctively leaned out from behind Nanna Cart One to push it open with my leg, but what emerged with the movement of the door was a short sharp and loud duck-quack fart.

“AU REVOIR!” Here’s hoping that my enthusiastic farewell disguised the flatulence faux pas.

After unpacking the groceries, taking Milly downstairs for a wee and checking emails, I showed Sapphire what I hoped would tempt her for lunch.

A measly packet of spring rolls. Stingy sized, vegetarian and on sale. Five francs. Asian-style food is not particularly well done here, but they’re savoury: not bread or poxy potato.

“Thanks Mum,” she said, hugging me. “Thank you for taking care of me.”

Guilt, love, concern, frustration, tears, annoyance, worry, affection, amazement, tiredness, irritation, anxiety, warmth and utterly sick of waiting for results. I hugged her right back.


Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Kath,

It's such a shame about Sapphire.

Mrs PM is suffering again too; she thought that she could change her diet and calm the inflammation in her abdomen that causes her frequent and unpleasant visits to the loo (it's worked before!) - but it didn't work this time, so she is off to see the specialist for the umpteenth time.

We feel your pain and frustration...




Windsmoke. said...

Waiting is the worst part, here's hoping everything will turn out ok in the end :-).

mele said...

Sorry to play doctor and you probably have ruled this out, but
is it possible she has fructose lactose intolerance or irritable bowel syndrome? These symptoms come and go randomly. They involve cramping, pain, no eating, gas, sharp pains and difficulty either going to the loo or not at all. Some weeks you are fine and others you get sick.
These symptoms appear like food posioning, but are not consistent with the experiences of others (ie if you and love chunks ate the same thing and are ok).

I had all these symptoms for twenty years and all the doctors would do was give me colonoscopies and say I didn't have crohn's disease or cancer, nothing degenerative to the stomach or bowel, so deal with it.They saw it as a good result and didn't care that I couldn't eat properly or was underweight. They said it was fine to use laxatives with every single meal because i was a hopeless case!

Finally found a good specialist that had a PhD in new research and put me on to hydrogen breath testing.
The fructose lactose test has only emerged in the last few years. I never recommmend cures or treatments for other people, but the test is definitive = yes or no. Change specialists if they can't give you an answer. Some are not aware of the latest research, and at least they can rule stuff out. Blood tests show gluten issues but do not diagnose fructose lactose.
I hate it when people suggest things I've heard a million times but this did change my life and hundreds of children are undergoing testing in SA for it at the moment because it is epidemic.

franzy said...

Oh my goodness, that poor boy was all over the local radio this morning. Suffering a cough and cold myself, I admit to the same pang of concern as the talking-head doctor they got on started listing symptoms: "achy joints, cough, sore throat, feeling tired"
Brilliant. Really reassuring.

I hope Sapphire gets better.

Anonymous said...

While I am sure your aren't, you do at times sound like a walking disaster. Hope Saph is ok soon.

MedicatedMoo said...

Thanks Fruitcake.Sometimes the 'poo bum bugger shit fart' mantra helps. I certainly uttered it a few times after scraping my nose yesterday!

PlasMan, I think that we'll be doing an elimination diet after she's recovered. It'll be boring and annoying but needs to be done to ensure that we've not overlooked any thing.

Thanks Windsmoke. I'm waiting until opening hours to call the doctor to see if the results have come back yet.

Mele, I'm jotting your info down madly and will take it into the doctor. Since last year when he 'assumed' that Sapphire was faking it, he immediately turned around when the tests showed the weird, antibiotic-resistant infection and is now firmly on our side. I'm going to ask that she get the hydrogen test (via referral) no matter what the outcome is. I'm so sorry that you had to suffer for so long!

Franzy, my Dad said that Alex was all over the news - radio and television. I know that his parents are getting some (tiny) comfort from the fact that his donated organs have helped others but.... but..... well, a week ago they thought he just had the flu!

I feel that way sometimes, Andrew!

drb said...

I totally agree with Mele and am glad that you are going to test for it.

Nuttynoton said...

Hopefully you can get to the bottom of these problems and get her sorted, agree with Mele wonder if it is some intolerance? Good luck and hope she improves soon must be very frustrating! Sorry to hear about the death and yes it is wonderful he can live on through others.
On a totally unrelated topic and to make you jealous we are going to see the Boss in concert tonight

Hannah said...

A world, a universe, an infinite number of hugs. xo

Jayne said...

Damn, I'm sorry to hear Sapphy isn't well again :(
Crohns, maybe Celiac disease, I hope the answer is found soon and your dear girl is better.

drb said...

How about rice for the sore stomach? Add a cup of rice to 1 litre of chicken stock, carrot and celery and boil for 30 min is pretty mild but nutritious. Pasta is not so good for sore gut.

River said...

Oh dear! This is not good. You may have to get Sapphire tested for every food allergy there is. Every. Food. Allergy.
Including gluten. Especially gluten.
And meat/dairy-proteins/lactose.
I'm pleased to hear your grocery packing skills are developing well, apart from runaway oranges. When you get back to Australia you can have my job. Ha Ha.
I hope Sapphire feels better soon.
I'm so sorry to hear about the 18 year old.

River said...

Have just read Mele's comment and agree 100%
I have self-diagnosed IBS, with bloating and pain (sharp needle/knife)depending on things I eat. Naturally now I avoid certain things like the plague and severely limit intake of several others.

Kat said...

my niece is recently being diagnosed with allergy to fructose, lactose and oh dear, something else....but her symptoms were exactly the same...just thought would mention it....took her about 18 months of all's not gluten, as I know that will do similar symptoms and what they thought it was originally....apparently there is a new test for fructose & lactose that gives a difinate answer...sorry if someone else has mentioned it by my computer playing up and can't read other comments

WritingsForLife said...

God, that's so scary and sad. But I suppose it makes the rest of us thank god for all that we have. Thank you for reminding me about that today.

Anji said...

I'm sorry to read of the death of your friend's son.

Did they give sapphire antibiotics for her recent tummy upset? Rob was ill for months after a bad reaction to an antibiotic which contained penicillin. I hope it's not the case for you, just another suggestion.

Sounds like one of those days. funny how things spiral downwards. I often wonder how people managed to stay sophisticated all of the time

Cat J B said...

So sad for the young guys family, I can't imagine either how a person could ever recover from the death of a child.

Hope Sapphire comes out okay, I'd look into dietary intolerances too, are there any alternative practitioners you can visit?

Cat J B said...

Make that "alternative medicine practitioners"...

Anonymous said...

I like this Blog. :)

Anonymous said...

This really answered my downside, thanks!