Sorry I haven’t written any posts for so long. I’ve been too busy mopping up puke.
My little boy has vomited almost every day for the last three months. The house smells like a bleach factory, and I am buying new mops from the local hardware store so often that the cashier there thinks I fancy him, and am just buying the mops as an excuse to hang out. Lately, he has started hiding behind the screwdriver display when I show up, and making his mum serve me.
Why has my son been chundering so much? Well, he’s got Lyme disease. I already had it when I got pregnant, without knowing it – since hardly any doctors know how to recognise it. They usually misdiagnose you with hypochondria instead. And so my son was born with congenital Lyme.
My son has been taking combined antibiotics for the last 3 years, non stop, but Lyme disease is one of the most antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the world. It’s worse than syphilis and tuberculosis, both of which often need over a year of antibiotics to eradicate. One person in three with Lyme disease never gets cured.
While I’m quoting statistics, I’d also like to mention that Lyme disease worldwide is now spreading four times faster than AIDS. Where is the government research? Where are the sequinned, star-spangled Hollywood fundraising events?
Nobody even knows about Lyme disease. Once you get diagnosed with it, it’s like entering a secret society of the knowing, like the Freemasons or the Illuminati or maybe Mossad. Only we, the Diseased Ones, know how widespread it is. Only we know that research has proven 80% of cases of autism are caused by Lyme disease. Only we know that once you get Lyme disease, your life will never be the same again.
So, well, apart from the endless retching, what else is Lyme disease doing to my son? He cannot hold a pen and write properly because his hands are too weak. He’s lost physical co-ordination and often drops things, or falls over for no reason. He has headaches nearly every day. When he is tired, he cannot see properly. His knee joints are arthritic and sometimes he limps. He cannot run, he just shuffles along in slow motion when trying to play with his friends. He’s seven years old, by the way. He forgets things that he knows perfectly well, like how to tell the time. I’m currently teaching him that for the third time in two years.
Do you know what the worst thing is?
The worst thing is when other people moan and fuss about trivial ailments. I don’t mind offering sympathy to anyone, I really don’t. But when they lack any awareness of proportion, it sometimes makes me want to strangle them.
My neighbour (Mrs. Sterile, in case anyone’s keeping track of the locals in this blog) made more fuss when her son banged his head and got a bruise on it than any cardiac patient I saw in the hospital in England when I was there having heart surgery.
Her son had been riding his tricycle, which tipped over sideways and made him bump his head on the ground. She fainted immediately, then came round and hyperventilated. Her son cried loudly, largely because he was scared by what his mother was doing, which meant he MUST be taken to hospital. The amount of hand-waving and Sicilian cries of desperation exceeded anything I had ever witnessed before. She was even slapping her hands against her forehead the way Arabs do at funerals. All over a bruise about one inch in diameter.
My husband and I were recruited as chauffeurs, since she and her husband were both too hysterical to drive. She did actually coerce my husband to drive up the hard shoulder of the motorway for about a quarter of a mile when we encountered a bit of a traffic jam, by throttling him from behind and pulling out some handfuls of his hair. I think he could have taken the throttling but it was the hair-pulling that convinced him, as he really doesn’t have any surplus to spare.
At the hospital, she fainted again. Once she had been administered to, she screamed and grabbed several doctors by the lapels of their white coats, getting dragged along the corridor since she refused to let go of them, asking them in floods of tears if there was any hope her son would pull through without major brain damage. Then she insisted they put him on a drip for 2 hours – which they did purely because she was disrupting the whole ER department and it was the only way to shut her up. Whilst this was happening, she got out some rosary beads and her husband and she prayed together, except that she couldn’t pray effectively because she was weeping so much. Eventually the hospital found a couple of strong porters to kick her whole family out.
The best part was that, a couple of weeks later, she arranged a special thanksgiving mass to honour Saint Rosalia of Palermo for rescuing her son from the jaws of death. She invited 350 of her closest relatives.
Well, last week she spotted be fetching my son home from school early. I have done that every day he’s been to school, since Christmas. I leave him there and then, sooner or later, the school phones me saying he has vomited, and will I come and get him please? So what did Mrs. Sterile say?
“Oh there’s nothing wrong with him! Look at how big and tall he is. He’s just fooled you into believing he’s ill, because he doesn’t want to go to school.”
His history teacher said roughly the same thing two weeks ago. She thinks he’s mastered the art of hurling at will, just so he can go home early when he’s bored with lessons.
Should I show them all the results measuring the high level of Lyme bacteria in his blood? Should I show them the blood test results which demonstrate his immunodeficiency? Yes, Lyme disease damages your immune system. Or should I just run them over next time I get the chance? I know I should be grown up about it and take no notice of them, but take it from me, there’s only so much patience any individual can muster.
Another neighbour even topped this. I had confided in her that I was terrified for my son’s future. He was three years old back then, and had just been diagnosed with autism. We didn’t know he had Lyme disease back then. Lyme disease enters into your brain, and whilst it has horrible effects upon adults, the damage it does to children’s developing brains is particularly devastating. The doctors had told me he was mentally retarded, and may never learn to talk at all.
“Oh, I know just how you feel,” said my neighbour. She then went on to tell me about when her daughter had a “lazy eye”, and had to do eye exercises for a year to correct it.
“It was awful. They told me she might have to wear glasses for the rest of her life,” my devastated neighbour concluded.
“That must have been terrible for you I said,” pushing my spectacles back up my nose. “You must be such a strong person to have got through it.”
Anyway, I’m signing off now.
I have to go down to the hardware store and take a really good, hard look at the screwdriver display.