Tralee Life Life In An Irish Town


Charming the Ladies

On Sunday Ruby and I went to Dublin. It would once have been strange for the two of us to head off leaving Lisa and Fred behind but such is the progress we’ve made that hardly a mention was made. We left Sunday evening, the two cuddled up on the couch, looking forward to the peace of having half the family gone. In Dublin Ruby and I were well looked after by Conor and Cathy, the only thing missing were the two back home in Tralee.

We got home Monday evening to dinner on the table, a pleasant surprise, and Fred delighted to have us back. I was the delighted one though as Fred was still ok, no signs of any activity, a day down at school and another day ticked off on the seizure free calendar I keep in my head. Again Dr Shahwan has come good, not letting us be distracted by short-term setbacks and helping us keep our heads when before we may have lost them. Today is actually day twenty-one, three lovely seizure free weeks for Fred and the family.

On Tuesday evening Fred had to get the flu jab. For conditions such as epilepsy the flu can be a danger, skewing medicine levels, pushing up temperatures and letting in seizures. Even those couple of chest infections Fred got lately had him in hospital, something that we want to avoid as much as possible. The two of us went to the doctor’s surgery to get the jab and Fred really impressed me by how he behaved in the waiting room. On previous occasions he would have been into everything but this time he sat still, waiting his turn like the rest of the people. When our turn came Fred walked in ahead of me and out of habit got up on the couch, though the nurse offered him a chair. The jumper was off and then he began unbuttoning his shirt, again out of knowing exactly what was expected of him.

The nurse got the paperwork and asked me to sign:

“Now Dad,” she began in the manner all medical professionals address me when with Fred.

“He’s John Verling,” said Fred.

“What’s that?” she asked.

“He’s not your Dad, he’s John Verling,” explained Fred.

Nurse Sile laughed; Fred had won her over.

Fred gave his usual “jesus Christ almighty,” when the needle went in but otherwise all went fine and we were out the door after a few minutes. Back home Fred showed off the bandage to Ruby as if he’d just gotten home from the Front and Ruby was suitably impressed.

Wednesday afternoon and I was driving over to the school to collect Fred when my phone rang. Denise was calling to say Fred was in a bad way and to come straight in. Like Steve McGarrett I pulled up outside Blennerville gates, lights flashing and parking on the double yellow lines. Inside Fred was slumped on a chair, as pale as a sheet and moaning. Just a couple of minutes earlier he’d told Denise that he felt bad and needed to get sick. Around him were Ms O’Connor, Ms O’Se, Denise and Terry, the principal. Fred isn’t short of carers at school that’s for sure. I looked at Ms O’Connor but she said “no, he hasn’t had a seizure,” but it did look as if one wasn’t far away.

As it was school out time the last thing I needed was for Fred to keel over in front of the parents and pupils. So I asked Fred to stand up which he did, then I picked him up and rushed him out the door to the car. Terry ran in front of me opening the door and Denise threw all Fred’s stuff in the back. We strapped him in and I turned for home.

“I’ve got bad confusion,” said Fred, “and the puke is in my throat.”

Seemed like the worst of days but we got home and Fred was soon lying out on the couch. After a small snooze he woke and asked for lunch. A chicken sandwich later and he was sitting up watching a movie. By the time Lisa came home he still had “a little confusion,” as he called it but seemed past the worst. Dinner was had and Fred went off to bed, still with bouts of confusion but slept through the night. On Thursday we kept him home, for observation really but also to help him recover.

On Friday the class were going by bus to the library for a story telling session. Fred said he was up for it and so I drove him over at the usual time. At the school he told to walk behind him, as he was able to go in on his own. So I walked a few paces behind, Fred holding his hand up to tell me to back off. At the classroom door he stopped, the kids were at their desks and they all looked up at him.

“I’m back!” Fred declared hands up in victory.

“Hi Freddie,” they all replied, happy to see him.

“You’re back Freddie,” said Ms O’Connor, looking at me and I shrugged my shoulders in reply saying that all had been ok, he’d come through the couple of days unscathed.

Whether it was the flu jab causing the disruption or the VNS kept a cluster at bay we’ll never know but Fred carried on regardless. On Friday evening Ruby had some of her new friends over to get ready for the school disco and Fred won them all over. He found photos of Ruby as a baby and passed them around, the girls loving his sense of humour as he laughed at each photo before he handed it over.

Being charming without realising it is a special skill and Fred does it at ease.

Long may it last.


Posted by John Verling

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