Totally sick


It makes me feel lonely. Really alone. It makes me feel helpless and lost.

I hate it when my boy is sick.

It’s one of those mum moments. Where you have to take control. But you don’t have control. You can’t fix it. You can’t just make it go away.

My boy has tonsillitis.

Who knew the illness would take over his entire little body? Sure, I remember sore pus-filled throats, but not like this. My boy was exhausted. Pale. Pains in his stomach. No appetite. Blocked infected nose. And. He. Stopped. Talking.

That was the biggest shock. My boy doesn’t ever stop. I often request five minutes quiet time. Or even just one minute would be great. If he’s not talking to me, he’s talking to himself. I know when he’s awake in the morning. I know when he’s gone to sleep at night. It’s quiet.

The silence was a killer. His glands were so swollen he couldn’t really talk. He struggled with breathing. At night the snoring was out of this world. I kept checking to see he hadn’t suffocated or choked. I kept googling tonsillitis and constricted airways. I paced up and down outside his room. I lay awake listening.

The doctor prescribed 12 days of antibiotics. ‘Is he allergic to penicillin?’

‘I don’t know, he’s never had it.’

He’s never needed it.

It happened during one of my busiest weeks at work. Magazine deadline time. Lucky I have great managers who were fine with me working from home. I got so much done. It seems a sick seven year old is less demanding than advertising reps and clients.

I felt free of guilt. As a working mother I always feel torn. No, I can’t go to see his first school band pop-up performance at 9am on a Tuesday. It kills me. No, I can’t go and help volunteer with the reading class. I’d love to. But I have to earn the rent.

Torn between being a good mum and a good worker. I love my job. It demands my full attention when I’m there. I can be creative, work other parts of my mind. Yes, I feel guilty I can’t stay back at deadline. Yes, I miss out on some after-work pub bonding sessions. But I have to go home and do homework.

Last week I got to do both at the same time. Be a mum and work. No. Guilt. No feeling I might be letting someone down. Because I wasn’t. It has been a long time since I’ve felt that. It was liberating. I felt free.

We were housebound for days. My boy on the day bed watching movies. And sleeping. He slept a lot. Yesterday I hired a babysitter so I could go out for two hours.

Not to get a massage. Or go for a run. I went to Bunnings. I hadn’t been to the new Bunnings in Alexandria. The garden centre is huge. I was on a tight schedule. I had to get pots. I stocked up my trolley with flash decisions and went to pay. Half the pots didn’t have barcodes.

‘I’ll call someone, get them to find the prices,’ the woman at the cash point said.

‘You don’t understand. I’m on a tight frame. I can’t be wasting that time…’ So I ran – to each pot section and ripped off tags. It took an extra five minutes. She felt bad. I looked bad.

I explained the tonisillitis, first outing of week, only have two hours to get everything done scenario. We were friends by the time I left. I teared up on the way to the car. It all felt so overwhelming. I felt so alone.

Handy that Dan Murphy’s is around the corner from Bunnings.

I made it through Marrickville metro in 40 minutes. Mission accomplished. I said farewell to the babysitter and set up my boy on the day bed. Then I went and lost myself in the garden. Re-potting. Shovelling. Weeding. It grounded me.

It started to sprinkle. I came inside and made chicken and barley soup. I made an ‘impossible’ pie from a Donna Hay magazine. It was the easiest dessert I’ve ever made. It was delish.

I fed my boy chicken soup and he ate nearly a whole bowl! More than he has eaten in days. It felt like an achievement. I listened to his breathing when he was asleep and the snoring was much quieter. He wasn’t labouring any more. Could this be the turning point?

This morning I woke up to hear my boy talking to himself.


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