We got back from skiing on the Saturday night and on Sunday went to see Uncle Gilbert, who had managed the mean feat of spending both Christmas and New Year in hospital with a suspected dicky heart. Thankfully he got the all clear but at the age of 88, with a quadruple bypass behind you, you can’t be too careful. That afternoon we waved Pete off as he went back to work in South Sudan, and I settled in for a week of washing, planning healthy meals and daily exercise for all of us.
One genius plan to help us get moving (and help Alfie get trim and fit) was to walk through Belmont Park to school, rather than park across the road or even, (horrors!) drive all the way in. Weather permitting the kids could scooter and I could alk, also having the added benefit of walking back through the park to fetch the car afterwards. I calculated, correctly, that we should leave the house at 8am, about 20 minutes earlier than usual. Minimal protest from the kids and dry weather so it all looked good. Except for the fact that Alfie coughed his guts out from start to finish. The temperature had dropped to a couple of degrees and the minute we hit the cold air he was a goner. If you’ve never heard an asthmatic child cough then count yourself lucky because it does sound like they are coughing their guts up and indeed vomit can often be involved. I had the pink Seretide inhaler and spacer with me but had forgotten the blue Ventolin, so we did 3 puffs, then another 3 puffs, then another. It was horrible. By the time we got to school I was a nervous wreck. Alfie is sanguine about all this, it never seems to faze him. Just as his racking night time coughs never wake him (but wake the entire rest of the house), he takes it all in his stride. He’s not keen on the inhalers, sometimes getting fed up with yet another request to have a couple of puffs, but mainly it doesn’t bother him, even when he coughs so much he vomits
Thankfully an angel was to hand, in the form of my good friend L, whose own son suffers from asthma and related respiratory conditions, to the point of being hospitalised. I was so fraught I couldn’t think straight and she totally took me in hand, insisting I get in her car and parking up to let me have a good wail, even though she was on her way to an important appointment. There and then she found the number of the Ulster Independent Clinic and I was able to make an appointment to see a paediatrician that very afternoon. She also gently but firmly told me to call my GP and demand a referral letter (necessary for the appointment) and all that plus a shoulder to cry on too.
And what a difference it made! I walked back through the park as planned, sobbed down the phone to the GP’s receptionist and was promised a letter by lunchtime. After school that day we went to see the truly awesome Dr Sharon Christie and by that evening I was not only relieved, but quietly elated (and absolutely shattered). Finally, finally we were ‘in the system’ and on our way to getting some actual answers. Thanks L, I owe you big time.