Tralee Life Life In An Irish Town


No Dillydallying

It’s 7pm on Sunday evening and we’re sitting in the front room all stretched out happily under our blankets. Ruby is eating a banana noisily, Freddie is watching TV and Lisa, well she has her head in her kindle lifting it only to glare at Ruby for eating her banana so noisily. An oh so cosy, happy family you’d think that never a cross word was heard in the little house in Ballyseede. Ironically, I wrote last week about the tension in our house on days off and how it seems to affect Freddie and last Sunday was tense. As I wrote it, Freddie was sitting on the couch between his Mum and me, eating his dinner whilst watching TV. Couldn’t be safer and I think its one of the favourite places in his little world. Just as he took the last bite and as I was posting my finished piece, he went into a seizure. Two weeks, almost to the day, since his last one. That gap would have led to the day’s tension as we were expecting something to happen, dreading it but hoping against hope that it wouldn’t happen. The seizure was a short one, less than two minutes but two minutes that immediately put us back to square one, the medicines aren’t working. At least the current combination isn’t working. Bollocks to all that, even thinking about it makes me angry.

Over the next four hours we tried to contain the seizure activity. We gave him the diazepam after first one and he held till 7 o’clock. Then he had a brief frontal lobe seizure, lasting about ten seconds and another two-minute one at about 8 O’clock.   By 9.30 he’d had another ten second frontal lobe one and two one-minute generalized ones. All this told us is was time to give up the fight. Even though the hospital is only five minutes away, we don’t want to be rushing there in an emergency so Lisa sprang into action. We were out the door in a matter of minutes. As always, the hospital staff were wonderful, settling us in and putting us at our ease. They take Freddie as their personal charge no matter who’s on duty. We hate putting them out but they also see us at our wits end and each time its such a relief for us to be taken under their wing.. It really is frontline care at its best. Always when they have Freddie settled, a tray of tea and biscuits is brought in as they try to settle the parents. No doubt the same free refreshments are banned under HSE cutbacks but sometimes rules have to be flaunted Minister O’Reilly...

Lisa is truly wonderful whenever all this happens. She takes every seizure as a personal insult, as if each one is her fault, a slight on her care of Freddie. Each day she looks after him from the moment he wakes until he goes to sleep in her arms at night. She administers his medicines with the precision of a ward nurse, feeds him his controlled diet and is always there for his every need. Whenever he keels over she curses like a barrack room full of drunken troops whilst wiping his forehead and making him safe. Once he’s ok, she jumps into action. The hospital bag is packed, his DVD player gotten ready and the call to the hospital is made. Before we head over, she makes sure Ruby is ok too and even finds time to tidy up. At the hospital, she arranges everything around her, making the nurses laugh with her efficiency and sends me home once Fred is settled. Underneath all this I know she’s eaten up with upset and anger that all this is happening again. If it weren’t for her composure this ordeal would be much harder for all of us to endure. She fights Freddie’s corner for him when he isn’t able and she’s a formidable fighter at that, I do what I can but I’m not a patch on her. It’s been said before by me but I am married to Wonderwoman.

Monday morning and I head over to the hospital at about 7.30am.  The flask of coffee is made and is in bag with the mugs, milk, sugar and toast. My usual fears of what I will find when I get there overtake me but I try to keep them in check as the stairs are taken two at a time. Nurse Noreen smiles at me from behind the desk and on the ward the two are cuddled up on the child size bed. I wake Fred with a kiss.

“Dad” he says sleepily “what are you doing here?”

There were no signs of a line having being put into his arm but my hopes that he avoided the Lorazepam are misplaced. Freddie had had another four seizures during the night and about 3.30am, the doctor was called to put the line in. She couldn’t get a vein in his arm so like Elvis she found one in his ankle. The seizures stopped after the drug was given and they’d slept the rest of the night through. Probably would have slept all morning if I hadn’t arrived to wake them. On days like Monday I don’t care about anything and instead of going off to work, I stayed with the two for a while.

About ten o’clock I made a call to the Hermitage Clinic inDublinwhere Freddie is due to have his PET scan. As the HSE haven’t made the one in CUH available, we have to go private with this one. My call is to find out if the appointment has been made yet. It turns out the paperwork had been sent to CUH for confirmation the previous Tuesday but they hadn’t heard anything back yet…. This was relayed to Lisa…Without hesitation she grabbed her phone and headed to the corner of the ward to call the consultant’s secretary inCork. The poor woman never knew what hit her, no peaceful start to the week for Margaret.  Lisa was perfectly composed but she put the secretary in no doubt of what was expected of her. The other side of the conversation I can only guess at but I doubt if there was much said. The line “I don’t want any dillydallying on this one Margaret” has now entered the Verling family phrasebook.

The rest of the week went as per normal. The two came home Tuesday morning, in fact they were discharged so early I was able to bring them home before going to work. Friends as always asked how things were but sometimes I just don’t have the strength to go over everything and I answer ok, plus I don’t want epilepsy to dominate our lives. One friend in particular came into the shop Monday afternoon after noticing that I was late that morning, wondering if all was ok….it breaks my heart how much concern people show but I had to lie to her, sorry! Later in the week, Ed Galvin phoned and offered to take me to lunch. Talk about perfect timing. It was a lovely gesture, really appreciated, the good lunch and funny conversation were the perfect distraction. At the end of lunch, Ed joked that he could tell Pam, his wife, that he had done something nice without being prompted by her. ‘More than you’ll ever know’ I said to myself as we left the building.

Now it’s Sunday evening and our week is behind us. We’re having a snack of cheese, biscuits and salty nuts as Freddie calls peanuts. The sun has gone down, The Arsenal has won and I have a beer waiting.


How bad?






Posted by John Verling

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