The story of Rebecca and Madeleine – Nanaimo Canada.
For years Becs had to have botox injections into her legs, as a treatment for the spasticity in her muscles that the CP causes. She would have to have no food after 6:00am, and clear liquids ’till 10:00 am, then nil-by-mouth ’till after the procedure (quick. although excruciatingly painful) which was between 1:30 & 2:00 pm) So she was just a day patient.
My husband Dave isn’t the best at getting up early, so I would make it a really special ‘Mummy-Becsy’ time: we would have a ‘sleep-over’ (I would either sleep on a foamie on the floor, or in the bunk bed with her, letting Madeleine sleep on my side of the regular bed – or even send both she and Dave downstairs for the night, while Becs & I slept in my bed.)
She got to choose what she wanted for breakfast, and I’d do as much prep as possible the night before. (she usually wanted fresh fruit crepes, with whipped cream, vanilla yogurt, granola and chocolate sauce!!) Then we’d set the alarm for 5:00am, I’d get up and creep out, get the rest of breakfast ready – usually with a fancy or fun table cloth, setting etc. – and wake her at 5:30. We’d have hot chocolate with whipped cream & marshmallows, and talk about ‘stuff’.
We’d have a good couple of quality time hours together before we woke up Dave & Madeleine, at which point we would be dressed, have a special hairstyle done, and the table set for round two, in which Becs was the ‘waitress’ (she loved that – made up menus, took orders etc!).
Then we made a family day of it. The hospital is 1.5 hour drive from our house, so both girls would miss school that day; we’d pack fun things for lunch whilst having juice and tea to drink, and we’d plan a really fun (albeit non-energetic!) activity for after the sedative had worn off. Usually, because there was time in the morning, we’d allow about an hour or so at a REALLY fantastic playground near the hospital before checking in.
Then there were generally a couple of ‘surprises’ (like a new colouring book, or story book, or stuffie or something) once she’d been checked in and weighed, and all that pre-procedure stuff. She and Madeleine would play, and then when it was actually time to go into the procedure room and have the anaesthetic (local) applied to her legs (only topical, so the skin didn’t feel it but BOY did the muscles!), we all went in, and played imagination games (like “You put your hand into a box – what do you feel?”) until the Dr. arrived.
One of us had to stay and hold her down while he did the injections… well, I suppose they would have called in another nurse if necessary, but she always wanted one of us to stay – even though by that time she was drunker than if she’d had a mickey of whiskey! … Madeleine opted to stay a couple of times, but usually it was too upsetting and too painful, and she wanted to go far enough away where she couldn’t hear Rebecca screaming.
It is SO UNNATURAL to hold your child down while someone is hurting them – even though EVERYONE knows it’s all for the best. It’s awful. It usually made me nearly vomit. I don’t know who cried more – her or me. But then I was right there to hug her and hold her afterwards. She never actually remembered the ordeal; usually I wished they had sedated me too, because I can’t forget. I never regretted staying, though, even though it was so horrible during. It’s a bond we share now; I’m realizing that as I type.
One thing I would DEFINITELY not do again is try and multi-task the time: I had been cast in an episode of a TV series – as a white-trash trophy wife (contradiction in terms, I know!) and film company wardrobe department was in Victoria… they wanted to see me that same week, and I thought ‘why make two trips when I’ll already be there, and I’ll just spend hours waiting anyway!). So I suggested that the woman from Wardrobe meet me at the hospital… and there, in the bathroom of the Paeds ward, I tried on outfit after outfit for this TRASHY character, and had to model them all for the costume designer. I think the nurses thought I was NUTS. It was SO embarrassing! I apologised a LOT that day!!!