Tralee Life Life In An Irish Town


Aunty Clare

Whilst I wrote Last Sunday evening we were all well settled at home and a week later, it seems little has changed. Lisa is sitting reading her Kindle, Ruby is under a duvet on the couch watching YouTube videos on make-up and Freddie is making Lego buildings for Godzilla and Ultraman to destroy. Lunch has just been eaten and we’re all a bit sleepy. We’ve all been up since 7am and its beginning to kick in.

As the others roused themselves this morning, I took the dog for a walk in Ballyseede woods. It was such a cold crisp Spring morning I just had to do it. At 7.10am, Muttley and I were the only two listening to the birdsong, watching the rising sun break through the trees and marvelling at the haze coming off the river. In fairness, Muttley was too busy chasing fresh scents but I’m sure he appreciated it. The frost was so heavy I’d had to pour a kettle of hot water over the windscreen before we left but it all added to what was a magical early morning.

This week has left Lisa and I, as Francis Albert Sinatra would have put it, bewitched bothered and bewildered. Freddie got through Easter without a hitch which was lovely and the first holiday this year that this has happened. By Wednesday, he’d reached day ten since the last incident and we began to worry that something was coming. He seems to be on a ten to twelve-day cycle at the moment. That evening about 5.30, I was coming through Lispole on my way home when Lisa rang. Nothing unusual in that as she calls most evenings to tell me to pick up milk, wine, chocolate or other such essentials. The tone of her voice told me only one thing, something had happened. We both know intuitively at this stage, the immediacy of the tone tells its own story. Fred had fallen asleep in the afternoon and as he woke he’d gone into a seizure. The usual minute of full-blown seizing but then he slipped into one where the whole body shakes and shudders with the eyes rolled up. This lasted nearly fifteen minutes and Lisa gave him the diazepam to try stop it. Luckily, it did and Lisa was calling me from the car on the way to the hospital. She was fortunate too, that Ruby was there to help as trying to move a semi-conscious Freddie isn’t easy. Lisa told me not to worry as all was ok but that isn’t easy when you’re 35 miles away and phone coverage is poor. Knowing that crashing the car wasn’t going to help I tried to drive as carefully as possible but probably broke a few rules of the road whilst trying to keep my thoughts and fears under control.

At the hospital I parked up and ran over to A&E. A nurse on duty recognised me from one of our many visits and before I could ask she told me Freddie had gone straight up to the ward. Up those stairs I ran, those stairs up to the Cashel ward I know only too well. On the ward, the Nurse Eileen saw me coming through the door and pointed at a closed door. In I went to see Ruby sitting by the window and Lisa lying on the bed.  Freddie was lying on the other side of her and his little head popped up when I came in.“Oh hi Dad” he said as if nothing had happened. I collapsed into the spare chair, all that running and stress isn’t good for a man of my age.

Lisa took Ruby home to feed her and to get the hospital bags. Fred, though dozy, sat up in my arms playing with my phone while we waited for his DVDs and glasses. The doctor came round but she couldn’t find a vein to put the line in and went off looking worried and crestfallen. No amount of reassuring from me could make her feel better. She said as she went out the door that she’d send up the senior doctor to try. After a while, Lisa returned with all the stuff and got the room ready for the night. One of the catering staff, knowing that Freddie hadn’t eaten, came round with a plate of rashers and toast. His favourite and she knew it. The care that little man gets from everyone at Kerry General breaks my heart.

The next morning I was up at 6.30am and headed off with the flask of coffee and toast about 7.20. Nurse Catherine was behind the desk and she gave me a smile as I came in the door. In the room, Freddie was sitting up watching a DVD as if nothing had happened and for once, nothing had. He’d gone to sleep about 9pm and slept a peaceful night through to 7am. It doesn’t happen too often, no stream of seizures, no IV Lorazepam given, only the second time since last August in fact. Is the Tegretol beginning to work again? Is it not stopping the seizures but preventing the clusters? Maybe it’s the high dose of vitamins we have him on is helping the drugs to work? Who knows? By eleven o’clock the two were heading home. Wonderful stuff indeed, especially not having Fred doped on Lorazepam for once.

On Friday, Lisa’s beautiful, wonderful, caring sister Clare came to visit. Freddie’s Aunty Clare his favourite Aunt and he didn’t let her out of his sight. We hadn’t told him Clare was coming in case the anticipation would be too much. Epilepsy is such a fecker that way. Clare had to sit through all his favourite movies and I think was slightly surprised that he knew all the words to Austin Powers. When I came home that evening he was wrapped around her under a blanket and hardly gave me a hello.He was so knackered by it all that he collapsed asleep at nine; he couldn’t fight it anymore and slept a deep sleep until 7am. When I woke him, he jumped out of bed to go find Aunty Clare, to make the most of her last hours with us. After she left about 9am, the poor little man was very down. “I miss Aunty Clare” was all he could say for a while afterwards.

Yesterday evening I was out in the kitchen tiding up after dinner when Lisa came in to say Fred had a seizure. Just sitting down watching his bedtime programmes, when he’d keeled over. “For fucks sake “was all I could say, over and over again. In the front room, he was laid out, recovering. After about an hour he woke up, a bit dazed but ok. He put on his glasses and continued watching his programs. We were watching him like a hawk. By ten, he was exhausted again and fell asleep for the night in Lisa’s arms. We continued to watch him, studying every move. About forty minutes later he had a 5 second frontal lobe seizure, a long 5 seconds for us but it didn’t develop. In the next twenty minutes, he had another two very similar ones but nothing developed again. What a relief. About 1am, I went off to bed leaving Lisa and Freddie on the couch, all seemed settled.  At four o’clock my bedroom door was thrown open, Freddie had woken and came looking for me. We cuddled up under the duvet and slept the sleep of the just till seven. No hospital this time, excellent.

Two good nights in a week, nothing to celebrate as we don’t want him to be having any seizures if at all possible, but at least he avoided the serious drugs and even avoided the hospital too. Much and all as we love everyone on the Cashel Ward we don’t want to be seeing them too often.

Freddie and the rest of us would prefer to see more of Aunty Clare if we had a choice!


Posted by John Verling

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