Tralee Life Life In An Irish Town


The Warrior

Sunday afternoon, a week and a day since the operation and things are heading back to normal. Whatever passes for normal round here... Freddie and I are watching The Santa Clause a favourite movie of mine. We watched it last night and loved it so much we’re watching again this afternoon. It’s great when your kids like the films you like, even if its just a feel-good Christmas one. At one stage, he was laughing so much I thought the wound would burst open. He’s inherited a love of slapstick from me, something I in turn inherited from my father. From what my father told me of his parents, I don’t think a sense of fun was their thing. Reared in the Victorian era struggle and strife was more their thing, no time for slapstick.


Last Sunday Freddie was very tired, not surprising after the Friday and Saturday he’d put down. When I left on Sunday evening he hadn’t woken much during the day, he just lay on the bed, getting the odd swab of water on his lips. About 8pm I went home to look after Ruby, leaving Lisa to care for Freddie. Lisa has an incredible ability to keep going on very little sleep, just cups of tea and the odd biscuit. Sleep in the hospital, especially last weekend, is only by lying across the end of the bed. They do provide a camp bed for parents but I think Lisa just wants to be as close to her little boy as possible.


When I came back in Monday morning, about ten o’clock after dropping Ruby to school, he was still the same. Completely zonked, his eyes were rolled up into his head, we couldn’t rouse him. The nurses came in and tried as well. No luck. They were concerned, as Fred should have been someway awake by that stage. The doctors felt the same, even though the surgeon was happy that the wound was healthy. The team on the ward however ordered a full set of blood tests. The fear of infection was high, due to the necrotic appendix and all our worst fears were running through our heads. The Halapannaver case was also there…not negligence just the fear of septicaemia


The blood tests came back clear. Which of course was a major relief but didn’t explain why Freddie was so wrecked? He tried waking a few times, at least we managed to wake him, but he couldn’t stay awake for long. Lisa and I wondered if his Tegretol levels were ok. The liver needs to process a certain amount of the drug per day.  Ironically, he had been due to go in for a blood level check the Friday we rushed him to hospital. Blood levels show how much of a drug is in the system, they should be around a certain therapeutic mark, the point at which too much is a long-term danger.


By now, we were frantic. Our boy was a wreck, knocked out and not responding to anything. I bit him hard on the arm, not a flinch. Then I tried the ear, he turned away from me, nothing else. That sick feeling in my stomach came back, the one that had been there Saturday evening. Something was up, something wasn’t right. I had been looking forward to spending the day with Freddie, him watching a DVD, me reading the paper.


“It must be the Tegretol,” Lisa said.


I grabbed the laptop. A quick Google check for Tegretol side effects and there it was… ‘Drowsiness’. Well he was certainly drowsy…



Manon, one of the doctors came in. He’d been on to the epilepsy team at CUH and they asked for a blood level on his Tegretol to be done. Due to the operation, his levels could be up as the liver function might slow or possibly one of the three antibiotics he was on was interfering someway.


They took more blood. We had to wait for a while for the levels to be done. In the meantime, we tried waking Freddie but no joy. He’d rouse slightly but drop off again. It was really upsetting. When he had to go to the toilet, we’d almost have to drag him across to the bathroom. The surgeon wanted Freddie moving as it lessens the chances of infection.


The levels came back. They were at 90 per 1000 of blood. The usual level was 40. The highest the neurologist was looking for was around 46.


Freddie was toxic.


If it’s possible to do something the hard way Freddie will find it. The poor little man just doesn’t get a break.


Manon said that one of the antibiotics, Flagyl, eats all the enzymes in the liver. Those very enzymes that are supposed to filter the Tegretol through the liver…Freddie had to be on Flagyl as it was vital for fighting any possible infection,


No wonder Freddie was in such a state. The advice from CUH was to stop the Tegretol, to bring down the blood level of the drug. This we did and subsequent tests saw the levels drop, a bit at a time.


Tuesday saw Freddie a bit better. He sat up a bit, watched a DVD and still slept a lot. By Wednesday, he’d improved greatly by when I came in early in the morning. The blood levels had dropped again. By this stage poor Freddie was like a pincushion, he’d had so many needles in him. To add to Fred’s complications its very hard to find a vein on him that gives blood easily. Every time he needs a blood sample they have to prick and prod at the little man till they find a flow. One of the doctors on Tuesday had to take blood from between Fred’s fingers as all other veins had dried up.


Wednesday evening and the Freddie was out of the woods. He was off the antibiotics and the painkillers. The nurses were not worried about him anymore and moved us to a room away from their station. Its always a good sign when they don’t think you need constant observation. I stayed with Freddie that night, the two men keeping the nurses entertained. About eleven o’clock Freddie wanted water and the two of us walked down to the nurses station. Fred leaned against the desk, one hand holding the wound, the other holding up his water jug.


“Ah excuse me,” he said, “can I have some more water please?”


It was like a hospital scene from a war movie. Nurse Angie broke into a big smile, took the jug and sent us back to bed. A lovely cold jug was delivered within minutes.


Thursday morning and they sent us home. Such a turnaround. Less than week since we’d rushed in, gone through hell, and the little man was deemed good for road.


Being at home again was wonderful. We quickly settled into routine and got life back on an even keel. Fred had to go in to hospital again on Friday morning to have his stitches taken out and have yet another blood test. They were down to 56 this time.


Freddie has been walking around like one of the walking wounded all weekend. Now we’ve got to Sunday and he’s still shuffling round in his pyjamas, hand on the wound all the time.


At one stage today, he said, “Dad there’s a hole in my body; I don’t want my insides to fall out!”


He’d pulled one of the steri-strips off the incision and there was a little hole.


Luckily, we had a mobile wound station on the go and I bandaged him up again. He went off slowly, hand on his side, gently feeling his way.


Freddie the warrior, off to fight to the next battle.




Posted by John Verling

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