Running, Jumping and Dancing

While Sarah was away, I had the pleasure of watching Abi enjoy life again. She was having many profound discussions with her sister: “Cats don’t fart!” she cried, incredulous. “Everything farts!”, demanded Kara. “Even toys?” asked Abi. A little while later, I heard them talking about dreams. “If you tickle someone while they’re asleep, will they wake up laughing?” Abi asked Kara, who wasn’t sure. Thinking about it, neither was I.

Abi looked great, and despite the odd wobble, she was behaving just like any 2-year should; running and jumping and back doing all her favourite dances. After all we had been through, it was fantastic to witness. She was still squinting, particularly when she first woke up. But the doctors told me that was to do with the shunt adjusting pressure while she moved from a prone to an upright position. By then, Abi had been prescribed glasses to try and correct her wonky left eye.

However, around this time, we also had a few ‘incidents’. The first was at a playground when a little boy decided he liked Abi’s hat. He tried yanking it violently from her, causing her to whack her forehead on a bench. It was one of those weird slow-motion events that I saw was about to happen but was somehow powerless to prevent. The sickening loud “thud!” made my heart sink. I immediately launched into a bitter tirade at the boy’s mother: “I watched your ‘little angel’ and listened to you ask, politely, that he leave my daughter’s hat alone. I could see what was going to happen. Why couldn’t you? You don’t bloody well ask a three-year-old! You tell!” The women recoiled as I continued to offload my stress on her: “Abi has a brain tumour and a shunt you silly woman! The last bloody thing she needs is your ‘little angel’ bashing her bloody head!” I left the women reeling. Abi was still crying as I led her away, but she calmed down soon afterwards. However, soon a large bump appeared on her forehead, so I phoned the local hospital and explained what had happened. I was worried about the shunt. “Don’t worry, Mr. Langston,” I was told. “Shunts aren’t that fragile! Besides, Abi banged her head in an entirely different place to where the shunt is fitted. Just keep a careful eye on her, and if you get worried, just bring her in.” The bump didn’t go down for a few days, but Abi appeared well, so, thankfully, I didn’t need to take her to the hospital after all. Which was great, because by then, we’d had enough of hospitals.

The second incident happened a week or so later, one rainy morning. Sarah had returned home, and we were looking for a new home. I’m not sure what we were thinking because our marriage was teetering on the edge and a new home would not have helped mend it. Nevertheless, looking for a new home we were, and while carrying Abi down the set of slippery steps to a basement flat, I lost my footing. I thought I had managed to twist Abi out of harms way, but she could barely walk after the fall. I started to panic when her walking got worse over the next 24 hours. Had I dislodged her shunt? Or something even worse? So I dashed her up to our local hospital and waited impatiently in A&E. Thankfully, she was not seriously hurt. But her foot must have got caught underneath me after all because it was badly bruised. With the help of a bit of strapping, her walking steadily improved and in no time at all she was back running, jumping and dancing.

Yet this run of misfortune did not end quite yet. Just as I was about to recover some sense of calm, one morning I heard a loud thump from the girls’ bedroom, quickly followed by a flood of tears. I rushed up to see what had happened; Abi had fallen out of her sister’s top bunk. My heart missed a few beats when I saw her lying on the floor. Fortunately, she was okay thanks to a cupboard that had broken her fall. If it hadn’t, I dread to think what may have happened.

But what a run of luck we were having! I couldn’t help thinking that the world was conspiring against us. But there was some good that came from all these mishaps; I was learning that Abi and her shunt weren’t so fragile after all.

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