Christmas Time

Abi finally got out of the hospital at the end of October. They never did find the reason for her vomiting. So the conclusion presently is that the whole episode was caused by psychological problems, probably due to Sarah and I panicking about food, as a result of the news about the recurrent tumour. I’m struggling with that. Abi has been in the hospital often enough, without my help. Of course, I was well intentioned, but that didn’t make that conclusion any easier to stomach.

Although the hospital had discharged Abi, they were not allowing her out of their grasp just yet. After all, she was still not eating properly, and her weight was still low; barely 19kg, which was 4kg below the lowest percentile that was average for her age. They insisted that she still needed the nasal tube, and I was administering 800ml of an overnight high-calorie feed via a pump that delivered a regular dose. I hated that machine. It was like having a Cyborg at home, rather than my beautiful daughter. I also hated the idea that Abi was becoming too reliant on the pump, even enjoying it because it supplied her with all her nutrition so she didn’t have to eat. Somehow I had to ween her off that without endangering her health.

Christmas was soon upon us, and I used that as my excuse to try to persuade the hospital to let us have a period without the nasal feed. I asked them if we could remove the tube while we went on trips and visited friends and family. After all, carting the pump, syringes, and all the feed around would be difficult. Besides, I argued that it would be an opportunity to see if she would eat more without the overnight feed. Thankfully, the hospital agreed. So we spent the week leading up to the 25th tube free, going to a football match, watching a pantomime, shopping, ice skating and being an ordinary family enjoying the lead up to Christmas.

A fortnight before, Abi had another scan. Normally I would have asked to be given the results as soon as possible. However, I had experienced bad news just before Christmas two years ago, and I didn’t want to go through that again. Especially given the turmoil of the past three months. We needed a break from bad news and I wanted to enjoy the festivities stress-free. So I postponed getting the results until the 5th January. That was a good decision, I reckon. We had a lovely Christmas. It’s my favourite time of the year; there’s nothing quite like the magic of excited children, and we needed a bit of magic, given the previous few months. On Christmas Eve, we told stories by the fire. Abi and Kara performed a puppet show in front of the Christmas tree. Then Abi recited this beautiful poem:

Light of night, Light of day, The flowers are growing, The snow is coming, Make your Christmas Tree pretty, Santa and Jesus are coming tonight.

The day itself was fabulous, despite a shelf overloaded with Christmas booze collapsing, smashing bottles of wine, slow gin and whisky. It didn’t dampen my mood, just the kitchen floor, which smelled great. I soon cheered up by watching Kara and Abi open their presents, which they loved: “Santa was pretty kind to us!” Abi told me.

My goddaughter and her mum came on Boxing Day, and the children enjoyed that visit too. What’s more, that was the first day that Abi ate normally again. I was so pleased. Perhaps she was turning a corner?

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