Sunday, October 12, 2008

Even Spiderman can fall ill

Ever since having his face painted as Spiderman a few weeks ago, Oliver has shown an interest in the webbed super-hero. So when my friend Dave at work told me he had bought seven episodes of "Spiderman and His Amazing Friends" on DVD, I jumped at the chance of an "evaluation copy". Well, despite it being for an age-range somewhat higher than Oliver's, he has been rather entranced by it and asked for it in preference to any other TV this weekend.

In fact, we even bought him a Spiderman outfit on Saturday. We then went to Room 311 for lunch where he entered the disabled toilet and baby-changing room as Oliver and re-appeared as Spiderman, complete with full-head mask.


He not only charmed all the women on the next table and several other customers but brought a smile to the faces of several people as he walked home in full costume.

But last night our super-hero complained of feeling poorly when he went to bed. He seemed happy enough as he went down, but he woke after a few hours with a persistently bad cough. He kept waking despite trying to go back to sleep. We got him up and gave him some medicine. He complained of pain in what looked to be his stomach but in hindsight was probably tightness in his chest. He wasn't wheezing though and at the time, having seen him insist on disobeying Daddy by drinking his own weight in bath water, I wondered whether he had a dodgy tummy.

Today he woke cheery but still coughing. Hayley took him out while I got a lie-in, after which I cleared the spare room and packed away Lucy's moses basket to the attic (finally!). When Hayley returned from an afternoon in the park she said Oliver had been coughing and wheezing.

So at 5'ish this evening she took him to the out-of-hours doctor, who said he might be asthmatic and prescribed a salbutamol inhaler, which Oliver already has. So tonight the little guy had to take 4 puffs of his inhaler for the first time in perhaps 18 months. He doesn't like it but he was brave and did it with no complaint other than on the first puff. He did seem more keen after the promise of star stickers and (consequently) chocolate.

I have to say that I count my blessings that the kids have no major illnesses and have only occasionally been hospitalised. I am a complete coward at the thought of either of them suffering anything major and when faced with news stories of other parents with suffering children I am filled with a mixture of empathy, dread and selfish relief, knowing that "there bit for the grace of God...".

I know lots of kids have asthma, but I also know it can be very serious. Of course it's not even sure that he is asthmatic and I suspect he's just as likely to simply be vulnerable to these chest infections. I'm not asthmatic, but I clearly remember a childhood punctuated by standing with a towel over my head and my face inches from hot water breathing in steam.

But Hayley is asthmatic and apparently it runs on families, so the jury is still out.

Whatever the final diagnosis, I suspect I will never stop feeling like a part of me is ill too when he coughs in the night or has a temperature in the day. I just hope I can always be there for him and help him through. Oh, and be half as brave as my little superhero.