Today's piece has been 8 months in the making, and comes approx 24 hours after a surgical procedure carried out on my oldest daughter. A surgical procedure she would never have needed had it not been for a moment of utter stupidity that even now beggars belief. A kick. My daughter was kicked by a peer whom, for reasons I can only speculate had what I've come to describe as an impulse control moment. Do bare in mind that less than two years before Holly had undergone a repair for an epigastric hernia having been in acute pain for approx 3 months. It had been fixed. It was fine. She was fine. Only then, just after her 13th birthday her friend produced a moment of insanity and that single act has dictated the last 8 months of our lives. The pain returned the day after, similar but different to what she had experienced before. A debilitating pain, a pain that kept her off school, that limited what she could do, how far she could walk. Now anybody who knows us as a family understands that we are the classic out and about types. We spend whole days exploring and discovering and enjoying this amazing world, and so to find ourselves in a situation where we could not do the things we loved was to begin with irksome, and as time went by increasingly frustrating. The NHS, as with all emergency services consist of mostly capable and caring types, interspersed with the occasional turd who one wonders how they ever got the job. We had to join the queue for consultants appointments, went through multiple MRI's and scans, and nobody was able to precisely pinpoint the issue. In all honesty, exploratory surgery should have happened months before, and we remain bemused as to why nobody was able to offer this. It even reached the point when one consultant was about to discharge us from the list, convinced there was no problem. Credit here to Joy for fighting our corner, for convincing the NHS to arrange further scans. Greater credit still for when, towards the end of the year, she and Holly returned to our local GP, whom was magnificent and arranged a referral to the John Radcliffe children's hospital. This was the turning point, and from there on in we encountered staff that listened, that cared, that heard us. You'd be amazed at how previous consultants had failed to to do this, and that still sours our experience of Stoke Mandeville. Anyway, we saw two excellent consultants, the second of which understood that something really was wrong and arranged for exploratory surgery. Fast forward to yesterday, and 12 hours at the JR2 children's hospital. They opened her up, removed historic sutures that may have been dislodged by the aforementioned kick, and repaired a weakness in my daughters abdominal wall. She is home now. We all are. And we are emotionally fucking exhausted. Our lives have lacked normality since last June; Holly has not managed a single full week at school since the 2014-2015 term began. She has missed out on so much interaction and engagement with her peers, and had to stop pretty much all activity. And all because of the undiluted stupidity of another 13 year old girl.
If you're a parent reading this you'll know what it is like to see a child in pain. I've friends that have lost children, and have walked roads far harder than ours. But it hurts. It's hard. And the constant demand to keep going and keep going and plod on eventually takes its toll. I was meant to be at work today but have taken emergency leave. I'm wiped out. I am, put simply, emotionally wasted. I won't need long to get my shit together but I do need today. I want to be with my family. I want to smile with them, look after them, and be a clown and all the things a good Dad wants to be. With a fair wind it won't be too long before we can get back to normality. Only I've forgotten what that actually means. As an aside there have been a ton of other things that have made life a challenge recently. Issues with the house, with gas supplies; all minor in and of themselves but when added to the existing weight disproportionately angst inducing. My hope for this year is for calm waters. I'm also working hard to forgive this other girl, whom caused injuries consistent with grievous bodily harm to my oldest daughter. I hope she learns from this; I hope she grows. And I hope she learns to control her impulses, because then at least some good may come from an otherwise challenging time.