The sickness of Séimí


The Dad Diary
Edwin McGreal

We had thought we had seen it all with the kids and different sicknesses. Between vomiting bugs, high temps, constant coughs and even Éamon needing surgery to remove a stubborn pebble from a cut on his knee.
We joined the Covid club in recent weeks too with all three kids along with myself testing positive. But nothing compared to the last couple of weeks (it is Friday as I write).
It started on Monday, April 18, the bank holiday Monday. That evening Séimí was on fire. We checked his temp and it was over 40 degrees.
That was then and as I write on Friday, April 29, Séimí still isn’t out of the woods. We’ve had five trips to the doctor, one trip to A&E and sleepless nights every night since.
He’s on his second course of antibiotics and while showing considerable improvement, is still not recovered.
His condition developed into a throat and mouth infection. By the Wednesday of the first week, he had two nasty looking ulcers at the front of his tongue. The worry then was that he wouldn’t be able to eat or drink and might need to be put on a drip in hospital.
Some days he found it very hard to drink but still took enough fluids to keep the wolf from the door.
He then developed cold sores and didn’t know what had gone so wrong for him. It was so hard to watch. He’s only 15 months and can’t tell you what’s wrong and can’t understand you telling him not to touch his mouth. The poor fella was in agony.
We know now why the noise of a screaming baby is used as torture methods to illicit information from unbreakable prisoners. Holding him on your shoulder at 2am while he wails into your ear and the noise pierces through your skull and out the other ear is not simple.
For six days he was in awful form, sleeping only an hour at a time, crying unless distracted and understandably feeling very sorry for himself.
Since Monday of last week, his form has improved a good bit but the infection still isn’t gone and nighttime is still chaotic.  
It was a very stressful time. Having a really sick baby and then trying to look after two other kids on their Easter holidays isn’t straightforward, especially when you are sleep deprived yourself.
But even in the horrors of it, all three kids will still make you smile every day. In the midst of it all, Séimí started using his first word. He has said ‘Dada’ before but now is saying ‘yeah!’ if we ask him if he wants a ‘bok’ (bottle) and he does indeed want it.
So we can’t help but think how lucky we are at the same time. As difficult as these various illnesses have been, especially Séimí’s most recent one, never was there a risk of anything that wouldn’t pass given time.
It might have felt like forever in the middle of it but never were we faced with the threat of the likes of meningitis or the dreaded childhood cancer. You only have to spent a night or two in the pediatric ward of Mayo University Hospital to realise that as tough as things are, some children and their parents are walking a much more difficult road. You can only wish them strength, fortitude and the hope of change along the way.

In his fortnightly column, Edwin McGreal charts the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.