Certified Medically Unfit

It’s been crazy here the last few days. It all started with Mrini’s fever and vomiting episode last Thursday. Well, I suppose you could say it started the Friday before that, when she first developed the cold, but until that Thursday, it was just an ordinary, everyday sort of cold with runny nose and that’s about all. Tara got it, then I got it. We all did steam several times and things seemed to get better, until Mrini started her fever and vomiting episode that Thursday. The doctor advised us to wait and watch.

Meanwhile, my cold had caused intense ear ache, so Friday saw me trudging off to the doctor who, thankfully, put me on a short course of antibiotics. Thankfully because, normally I avoid antibiotics as far as possible, but now with two kids, who can afford such luxuries?

Saturday passed relatively uneventfully at the fishing camp. Then came Sunday. It was the sort of Sunday I wouldn’t want to repeat in a hurry – or ever, if I can help it. Mrini’s stomach was still troubling her, as evidenced by the watery stool and complete disinterest in any food that wasn’t in liquid form. This was worrying enough, but there was more coming. Tara, who had thus far been well, enthusiastically threw herself against the wall and split her forehead on the skirting. Blood gushed dramatically, as Amit and I rushed helter-skelter digging out Savlon, gauze, bandaids, and telephone numbers of nearby doctors. Luckily, the nearest one said he would see her if we brought her soon – but, he added, he wouldn’t do stitches.

We went to him anyway, thinking that if stitches were required we’d have to rush off to the nearest hospital. After looking at the deep half-inch cut, he started rummaging in his drawers, muttering about anaesthetic and tetanus. After several minutes, I pointed to a roll of thread lying on the floor and asked him if that was what he was looking for. Apparently, it was. He proceeded to give poor Tara a Tetanus shot in the thigh, provoking a fresh outburst of wailing, which had subsided only a few minutes ago. Then, while I held the hapless creature’s arms and at the same time attempted to keep her head still, he took a really fat and viciously curved needle threaded with the thread he had picked up from the floor, and sewed the gaping hole together with a single stitch. Ugh.

I don’t know who was more traumatized by the whole process, Tara or me. For me, it wasn’t the act of sewing the wound together that was gruesome, what was really difficult was to tolerate Tara’s absolutely piteous gasps and wails. Amit took Mrini and left the room, but Mrini was supremely unconcerned by the whole incident, apart from being rather miffed at all the attention that Tara was receiving.

Monday got off to a bad start: there was no water. We’ve been having terrible water problems of late and Monday was, I thought, the worst of it, because there was no running water for several hours in the morning. The little water that trickled out of the bathroom tap was filthy as ditch water and could only be used for emergency flushing of the toilets. We had a little drinking water stored up and that was all. The kids had had only a cursory bath on Sunday at the fishing camp and they really needed a bath. So, if it came to that, did I.

A stack of dirty dishes collected in the sink while we waited for water to come. The cleaning girl came and used the dirty water in the bucket for mopping the floor, thus rendering them a great deal less hygenic than they had been before her effort.

At last a tanker came, water was filled, then pumped to overhead tanks, then trickled down reluctantly to our taps, pushing a stream of air ahead of it and hissing out in a series of explosive farts.

I wish I could say that from then on things went according to schedule, but I really can’t. First I had to struggle with Tara to get her to swallow her antibiotic. On top of that, I had to force her pain killer syrup into her as well, and though it is supposed to be sweet, she hated it and fought with such vehemence that I really felt it would be kinder to let the wound pain. I didn’t give it to her any more after that, and she didn’t seem to be in any discomfort at all.

Mrini’s stomach trouble turned into diarrhoea, with seven clean diapers being dirtied in the course of a few hours. So Amit made an appointment at the hospital near our home and took her there in the evening. The appointment was for 6.30. By the time the doctor came to the hospital, it was past 8! It was long past Mrini’s dinner time and well on the way to her bed time. Having been kept waiting for 90 minutes, you could hardly call her cheerful and well-behaved.

The worst was still not over. Today I commenced on the course of treatment recommended by the doctor. Mrini was eager to take a hand in her treatment – in fact, she took both hands in it and threw all her various medicines vigorously over her clothes, my clothes, the floor, Tara’s head, and whatever else she could reach. Still, by using all my strength, I managed to force 50 ml of electrolyte down her throat while she was wailing. I was scared she might choke on it, but apparently she swallowed it the right way – I can vouch for that, because a few minutes later, while I was holding her, she determinedly brought it up all over me – not just the entire 50 ml, but a little bit extra as well, for good measure.

According to the doctor’s orders, she should be having at least four helpings of medicine a day, and electrolyte after every installment of potty, effectively bringing the total number of doses to about a dozen. So far, I’ve managed to force five separate helpings down her throat (and it’s not even 2 p.m. yet), with the result that she now no longer trusts me at all. If she sees bottle, glass, teaspoon, or any other type of implement in my hand, she’ll run a mile with her lips tightly pressed together. There’s nothing I can do to convince her that whatever I’m offering her is “only” water, or “only” curd. How am I going to help her to recover?

To say I’m worn out would be an understatement. I’m at my wits’ end. Fighting with the girls, even if it is in the interests of shoving medicine into them, completely drains me. It must be devastating for them too, to have their one main protector and ally turn against them in their hour of need. Surely there has to be a better way to help them when they’re ill.

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