Sigh. However many times one steers their children through a time of illness, every single time is an emotional ordeal all over again.
You first find out about the fever when you pick him up from the cot in the morning.
You reach for the thermometer, measure the temperature and decide a dose of paracetamol is in order.
Then you watch the child like a hawk for the rest of the day, taking note of his actions and reactions, taking his temperature every other hour, recording it into the organizer function of your handphone.
The temperature eases in the afternoon and you begin to build a little hope that it’s not so bad. But reality tells you it’s just an expected outcome after a bath.
You run the gauntlet of frustration, impatience and discouragement when he refuses his meal.
Your heart sinks when his temperature starts to climb again as the evening draws on, despite having kept to a rigorous medication schedule.
Night falls and you set out the sponging basin and the medicines for one last sponge bath and one last dose before you set him into the cot for bed.
He dozes off easily because he’s been yawning since 7:45pm.
You watch the clock tick as you keep vigil by his bedside. Time slows to a crawl.
You pray the same prayer over and over again, till it becomes rote.
You think about how totally absolutely much you love your child.
You wish you could transfer the discomfort to yourself and bear it all for him.
He’s tossed and turned and awoken a couple of times. You’ve carried him till your arms ache, and now the night is still again.
You brush his hair gently with your fingers and leave the room.
You log on to your laptop and type a blog entry to try to stay busy.
You know you really should try to lie down and get some sleep while you can but you also think you should torture yourself with a little insomnia, just to assuage some guilt (guilt you can’t explain a basis for because you know there wasn’t anything you could have done to prevent the illness).
You hear him stirring in his sleep, again. Leaving your laptop, you settle down cross-legged beside his cot.
He rubs his face into the sheets, and then sits up, blinking his eyes.
Catching sight of you, he musters a drowsy smile and mouths the word “Mummy”.
I know it’s tiresome, but, one more temperature check, son.
The thermometer registers 36.8. But it’s blinking and anyway you know it isn’t right because his neck and forehead are too warm.
Give some water.
You decide there is still no need to administer the ibuprofen. Not just yet.
It’s now early am of Sunday morning.
The watch continues.