Suburban man: Cold comfort

by Simon Farrell-Green / 26 August, 2016
When illness arrives, denial is no use at all.

Illustration by Angela Keoghan for Metro.

They said this would happen but we didn't quite believe it. Ira was a bit peaky — my grandma’s word — when he came home from day care on Friday night, but that’s to be expected after a day spent with 15 other small humans splashing around in the mud, right?

By 9.30, just as we settled in on the couch with a glass of wine and the second series of Bloodline on Netflix (have you watched? So good!), he was very ill, but we thought it was food poisoning, since — in all honesty — we’d had fish and chips for dinner, because we were too tired to cook.

The next morning, he had the beginning of a cold, even though he hadn’t yet recovered from the last one. For about an hour or so, clinging to the idea that you can have only one virus at a time, I managed to convince myself it was teething — he has four big square gnashers coming through on his top jaw — but he got snivellier and snivellier as the weekend progressed, and we dosed him with child’s echinacea and any number of expensive and probably useless potions. It doesn’t hurt to try, right?

The day after that, Hannah started feeling poorly. I refused to believe that I’d catch it, despite the fact that I am a hopeless hypochondriac and usually come down with sympathy symptoms within seconds of hearing that someone has been ill. So I mowed the lawn and tried out my new weed whacker that Hannah gave me for my birthday (Stihl, two-stroke; I managed to kill part of the papyrus hedge while I got used to it) and took Ira to the art gallery to see that South American exhibition.
I managed to convince myself it was teething, but he got snivellier and snivellier.

This was, I have to say, the first time I’ve taken my son to an art gallery, and the first time I’ve set foot in one since he was born. He liked quite a lot of it and I contemplated taking him to the pub in time-honoured post-gallery tradition, before realising I should probably go home and make dinner — proving that I am one of those modern fathers who is capable of taking charge of domestic duties when the chips are down — as well as dealing to the grounds.

An hour after dinner, with Ira and Hannah safely in bed, I succumbed. There was no watching Bloodline that night, and there was no work on Monday either. We spent the day in bed, all three of us, Hannah and I taking turns at dozing and holding the iPad up hitting refresh on endless YouTube reruns of Peppa Pig while our son — a dummy firmly planted in his mouth — plunged headfirst into a particularly horrid cold, which no amount of natural herbs and remedies could ever hope to stop. It was a beautiful, still winter’s day outside and we’d planned to do some nice family things like walk the dog and feed the ducks, since I forgot the bread last time: instead, we dragged ourselves out of bed to make him dinner and all he’d eat was jam toast.

We reeled into the rest of the week, waking one morning to see that Ira’s eye was a bit red, or that actually it was quite mucky, and so we took him into the doctor to find that yes, he had a nasty case of conjunctivitis that within hours had inflamed both eyes and gummed his lids shut while he napped.

Granny was on hand for emergency day care: she brought kombucha and liquid zinc.

I spent the day with my eye twitching madly in sympathy, spraying it with colloidal silver and dosing myself with Winter Wellness because I could feel the start of another cold, which I failed to stop. Ira watched Peppa Pig for a couple of hours, though this time he didn't have jam toast for dinner.

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