Today what we are embarking upon started to get very real!
Vaccinations were the order of the day as we all toddled up to the Medical Centre for the first of many jabs. The plan was to get Mum done first to show them what it was all about, and to leave one adult at least with fully functioning limbs to help comfort the little ones before, during and after their injections. However, Luca stepped up to the plate and insisted he would go first. I was tremendously proud of the soon-to-be 7 year old as he made no sound or whimper whilst first one arm and then the other was pumped with the life saving cocktail of viruses.
Emboldened by the bravado of his older brother, Mateo wanted to go next. Perhaps his 5 years and 5 months were not sufficient armour to protect the little fellow from what was to come, but his reaction was the complete opposite of Luca’s. Through a flood of tears and hysteria he declined vehemently the second jab. Fortunately, Aslan the Lion was there to tell him how brave he was and to tickle him with his whiskers and after a few minutes he surprised us all by offering himself as a sacrifice on the altar of pain and taking his second injection. I really thought that his second would have had to wait until the next time, but he was really brave and didn’t cry at all!
Not to be outdone by his younger brothers, Oskar went next. His determination to grin and bear it was only mildly undermined by a splash of tears that leaked from his eyes. But he assured me it was not from the prick of the needle, but from the oddly painful sensation of the serum building up in his muscle as the nurse depressed the plunger. No hysterics, just acceptance of the fact that this was a necessary evil to be endured.
Me next. I am not friends with needles having had some woeful experiences with blood samples in my childhood. I have to say that the needle itself barely registered. However, as the fluid was injected I could not help but remember the scene from the Tall Guy and the phrase “huge golf balls of serum building up under the skin….”. The first one was uncomfortable, and the second one left me wondering if she had done anything at all. “Its not so bad” I thought at the time.
Tania went last in the end, and pretty much experienced the same reactions as I did, but slightly more vocally – must be the Gallic blood, I guess. We English with our stiff upper lips! “I’m glad I’m not driving” was one memorable comment as we hastily arranged the next course and left the centre to go home.
So, we arrived home at 6pm with the beginnings of what can only be described as muscle fatigue in our biceps such as you get from laterally lifting weights for a long time. Lazy dinner from the freezer and Home Alone 2 to appease the kids as the dull ache in our arms slowly intensified. Funny how all thoughts of pain are mysteriously absent when there is a “funny” film to watch.
Tania shoots out of the house for a PTA meeting whilst I cajole the children to bed. All of them are complaining about the pain in their arms; Mateo “hates” his arms, Luca wants to know if he will go to school with a floppy arm tomorrow and Oskar tearfully declaring that he doesn’t think that we should go travelling after all. Compassion and Calpol work their magic as they settle down and I descend to finish tidying up.
I can wholeheartedly empathise with them. Its not that it is an acute pain. It is a dull ache such as you experience in the aftermath of having been given a dead arm. Not sharp, but you know its there! Do they fully understand what is happening to them? For a child it is difficult to translate emotions, feelings, illness and pain into meaningful language as we understand it. As an adult it is difficult to understand a child’s pain as we are bound by references and events that we experience in the context of adulthood.
For us, the dull ache in the arm is an inconvenience brought about by having a treatment that we know is necessary, and in our best interests, given what we are about to embark upon. Therefore we accept it. For the kids they haven’t experienced anything like this before. They did not seek it out; rather it was thrust upon them (albeit with a great deal of explanation) and whilst, on the whole, they dealt with the initial impact admirably, they were not prepared for the continuing pain that followed.
So we arrive at the end of small step number one a little wiser than when we began. We have several more vaccinations to be administered to attain the necessary immunity required for peace of mind. Dad, Mum and the kids now know what to expect. If I asked them now if they wanted to have some more jabs I would hazard a guess that their responses would be uniformally “No!” Tomorrow is a new day and, knowing the resilience of my boys, I have every confidence that with it will come a different answer.