Lower than Whale Shit

Shit day. SUCH a shit day.

Harry was inconsolable all night. His tongue ulcers became so bad that he couldn’t breastfeed – he’d latch on, then recoil as if he’d been burnt, and cry furiously with the pain. And they began to seriously smell. The ulcers, not my boobs. Harry normally has breath like a spring flower, but he’s developed the most pungent halitosis I’ve smelt in years. Possibly ever. I couldn’t get any fluids or painkillers down him at all to begin with, so at 1.30am John emerged from the spare room to find a feverish Harry bawling broken-heartedly on the bed, and me bawling broken-heartedly in the bathroom, frantically emptying out the medicine cabinet searching for a single remaining infant paracetamol suppository – which was actually under my nose all the while. John took Harry downstairs to rock in the chair for an hour, but he woke again on the way back upstairs.

By 6.30am I discovered the very end of my tether, and started crying more uncontrollably than my son. John had already left to take cattle to market. I had to do something Right That Minute or go stark mad with worry, so I bundled Harry – now sipping water, thank God – into the car and drove him over to A&E at Warwick.

Doctor was a nice chap, who contented himself with peering carefully at the ulcer-group at the front


taking my word for the fact that the ones further back were far bigger and uglier. Bonjela was apparently the best he could do for topical pain relief, and upon hearing that I couldn’t get oral medicine near Harry without being violently swatted, he gave me a further supply of paracetamol suppositories. I had been hoping for something pokier in the pain-relief department – no pun intended –  although I was never quite sure what. I suppose I was all ready to have Harry admitted and sedated so he – and I – could finally get some proper bloody sleep, whilst knowing perfectly well that was never a realistic option.

Doctor wasn’t sure if the ulcers were a bog-standard viral side-effect turned Bad Bad Bad, or primary infection with herpes simplex. He hummed and ah-ed over (unspecified, and I haven’t had the energy to google yet) possible side effects for a while, but eventually said he’d start Harry on herpes anti-viral therapy, with a view to the GP monitoring the situation in the next couple of days.

He gave me a prescription for the hospital pharmacy, which I vaguely thought, in my flustered state, was located in Outpatients, just next door. Except that the front door was locked, according to Bald Dude, who was just walking away from them, so I then carted 22lb Harry (a non-ambulatory wailing growth) and my changing bag, which despite being a thing of beauty weighs an approximate metric fucking ton, about quarter of a goddammed mile round the long route. I eventually arrived in Outpatients, sweating pints, cursing my aching arms and wondering why the hell I hadn’t gone back to the car for his pushchair. Bald Dude was lounging in an easy chair, not meeting my eye. Then the nice nursey told me that pharmacy hadn’t been in Outpatients for years – it wasn’t on the main site at all, but across the car park and further up the main road. Fuckit. Fuckit fuckit fuckit. 

I hauled Harry back to the car – a short trip, as we were virtually back where we started –  enjoying the relief that the brisk wind brought from his clinging close-range sewer-breath, and looked in the boot. Empty. No pushchair. I had no clear idea who had removed it, but I rang John up and chewed on him anyway. Ended call. Cried a bit more. I knew where Pharmacy was, now my brain was engaged. Knew it had no parking. Knew I had to walk.

I divested myself of the changing bag, and began to lug Harry yet another quarter of a mile. He was getting blown about by the gale and rained on a bit, despite my efforts to shield him. Plus, of course, he was heating up again from his fever, feeling icky from his illness, and suffering horrible miseries from his ulcers. Knowing all this did not make him any fucking lighter, or less upsetting when he started to kick me and pull my hair in tired frustration. I arrived at the pharmacy visibly harrassed, with a waily toddler, exactly one minute after they opened at 9am. You would think this might ensure a speedy service, but no. After 20 minutes of poorly-child hell, I was eventually compelled to point him, complete with his death-cloud breath, puddling dribble and irritable screams, right through the serving hatch. Fucking pharmacists.

Of course, when they eventually handed over the bulging full-to-brim paper bag, it contained oral anti-viral medicine to be taken 5 times a sodding day (did you hear what I said about Harry being nil by mouth, Doc?) and I realised I had no way of carrying the bag. I was obliged to cast the packaging right and left over their carpet  – 20 minutes, FFS! – whilst I crammed bottles, tubs and syringes into my coat pockets – which were already stuffed with my mobile phone, wallet and car keys.

So, on the return hike back to the car park, I’m not merely a crying, insanely overheated fat woman carrying a sick toddler, I’m a LUMPY, crying, insanely overheated fat woman with a headache, carrying a dribbling, stinking, sad, wind-blown, feverish lump of misery.

I got home and called my Mum. Like you do. When she arrived over here, her blue Nanny Emergency light flashing, God bless her, I had suppositorised him and coaxed him into dozing on the sofa.


He kept waking and crying piteously for cuddles every couple of minutes, so Mum (having washed up the dirty dishes from the meal I cooked her on Sunday – and sliced her finger open for good measure) sat motionless with him on her lap for 2.5 hours while he – and I – slept. During this time, John came home for his lunch and managed to score his usual domestic epic fucking fail by not offering her anything to eat, or even making her a drink.

Harry has accepted a little numbing Bonjela this evening, and consequently managed to eat a few soft foods and settle blissfully back onto the comfort of the Mummy-boob (I had, I confess, entertained a sneaking Thank God! Weaned the bugger! thought. But hey. He’s a happier boy tonight for having fed.) But he isn’t any better. Any at all. John put him to bed at 8, and he’s been up to him every 15- 20 minutes to re-settle him since.

I’ve had to give up the anti-viral meds already. We struggled hugely giving him doses 1 and 2, and by dose 3 he was simply beside himself, struggling dementedly, kicking and clamping his mouth shut, violently distressed. I started crying too, and decided it wasn’t worth upsetting us all so much in order to give him a drug for a condition he may not even have. Plus, I’ve just googled the miserable-sounding side effects.

We’re seeing our GP tomorrow morning to re-group and see if he has any bright ideas about ulcers – which, of course, he won’t, but I feel better for knowing that we have that slot booked – but that leaves tonight to get through first. I can’t manage a 4th sleepless night – I am aware that I am exhibiting signs of what could be termed Stress –  so we’ll split the night up. John has just elected to do the first one, so I had better go and actually, you know, try to relax.


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