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A young mother consults with a doctor over the...

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“I’m glad we chose to hospitalise your girls as if we’d left this till the weekend, it could have been fatal.” These are not words that any parent plans to hear.

When I woke up that morning I knew my twins had been battling fevers of 39oC for the past few days, the doctor had instructed us on how to manage the fevers and ensure they kept eating something and how to kept their liquid intake up. I had been trapped at home with sick children for 5 days and had my Tuesday all planned – we needed food and my foster child’s social worker had insisted on us going to visit so I had every minute from 6am planned. Besides the one twin had been perfectly fine the day before, running around with the boys and fighting with her sister we knew she was on the mend.

All that changed when I went to see why she wasn’t out of bed yet. There she sat angelically paging through a book. “Come on girly, it’s up time.” I playfully scooped her up and plopped her on the floor, only to see to my horror her legs collapse under her. Thinking she was playing I stood her up again. Instantly my entire being drained of all feeling, empty with shock and fear I watched her try hold her body on wobbly legs that kept wanting to buckle. Once she managed to slightly walk she hobbled with knees bend holding herself up on furniture.

From there the day spiralled downwards, yes we still managed to get some food in the house and the forms signed with the social worker but by lunch time we were in a paediatricians rooms trying to decide what to do with the girls. As typical as life is by this time she was walking fine and the other’s fever had dropped. The paediatrician had one bed booked in the hospital, should he try find another for the other twin? Maybe they should go home and wait it out? Eventually fearing it may lead to meningitis he decided to treat them in hospital.

Even then the day seemed to be chaotically normal – everything just flowed, nothing seemed to seriously wrong, we were just being precautious. Besides the girls were smiling. Eventually the girls had had blood samples taken and were on drips. By 9pm dad and the kids had come and gone and I was desperate to sleep. Sleep didn’t however begin to hover till 11pm.

At 11:30pm I was being woken by the nurse to say a doctor needed to see me.  There sat the paediatrician, at midnight – wanting to speak with me. He had charts of numbers, long words and a thick file in front of him. My girls had only been here a few hours.  Suddenly I was very alone, very small and very empty. Not much made sense at that hour but I did hear that the virus had attacked their bone marrow, their white blood count was low, there was something wrong with their livers and that had we waited till the weekend they may have died.  That was not something I’d planned to hear on this average Tuesday.

Heading back to my sleeper couch bed, sleep eluded me for most of the night. Imagine. Imagine, imagine….. no, I wasn’t thinking that my girls may never have learned to read or that they may never have known about the world wars or that they may never have been able to recite the parts of an insects body or that they would never have had the opportunity to work out an algebraic problem. Imagine, imagine…  they had never had the chance to climb a mountain, or see a baby bird in a nest, we had never been able to look at another flower together again or dance crazy around the lounge, imagine we were never able to share another picnic tea reading poetry or they had never had the chance to snuggle on my lap to listen to just one more story. We would never again have run down a sand dune together, eyes shut, arms out flying into the unknown.

Small, alone and empty I lay there.  By God’s grace my special girls have been given another chance. Another chance to be alive. Another chance to truly live. So, no, Monday won’t see us “doing school” we’ll be baking heart shaped biscuits, take out their glass tea set and then read poetry whilst sitting in the garden watching the butterflies dance and listening to the birds share their song.

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