Sunday, March 4, 2007

Flight or Fright

By the time we arrived in Colombo we discovered 12 of our 18 bags had stayed in London. So after 1.5 hrs at lost luggage trying to explain what windsurf mast and sails were and what they looked like, and no they weren't fishing rods or mapholders; the woman at the desk was desperate to fit them into one of her categories on her laminated picture card of lugggage items. She also had no category for a baby backpack, or for M's metal document case.....we discovered our hotel taxi had given up and left. Our luggage finally arrived 4 days after us, but customs had impounded it because they thought the windsurf sails were banners which were prohibited! I think M was secretly quite pleased at being regarded as a political radical though with incendiary slogans on his 'banners'

Our flight wasn't great either. Our 22 month old developed a really high fever on the flight and screamed for two hours, whilst I sobbed. She got better then worse over the 1st week, with every sri lankan I met telling me to take her to doctors, what doctors? I didn't know where to go. We were used to her respiratory viruses anyway.

I took our daughter A to the hospital a week after arriving. She was diagnosed with pneumonia. They wanted to admit her immediately. My husband was travelling, 5 hours away, my son needed picking up from school and I didn't know a soul. I didn't have a mobile or small change for a phone. I said I simply couldn't have her admitted, so persuaded the pediatrician to give me the antibiotics, caught a tuktuk back to the hotel where I spent an hour trying to get through to my husband to get him to come home. She was admitted the next day.

She and I were in hospital for 5 days, and what a week. A was of course having medicines 3 times a day and nebuliser every 4 hrs, which weren't synchronised so we were being woken very frequently at night. Then afterwards she would be so distressed she didnt go to sleep for ages. We both slept very little indeed, A got more and more freaked by the nurses and especially the IV steroids which were very painful. She got more and more frightened each day and consequently fought her treaments more and more, and was exhausted with fighting and struggling to breathe. With the nebuliser the nurses just set it up and left me to grapple with my daughter, and hold her down. It was horrible. She was also on a drip for 24 hrs too, which she hated. We did have a darkly comic hour when she had perked up a bit and decided to wander round exploring this, rather large room, with me in hot pursuit wheeling the drip stand after her like her little dog on a lead.

The paediatrician was quite concerned, as they all were back in the UK, at the degree of wheezing and work she was doing to breathe, whenever she got an infection. The steroids increased too so that meant even more painful doses. I felt utterly drained by the whole experience, emotionally exhausted and reeling from it all really. The paediatrician gave us our 'get out of jail free, or rather , for a lot of money' 5 days after admission. I wept with relief. This was not my anticipated 'welcome to Sri Lanka'

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