Some days, when you have a kid who has a thing, and when the thing gets too much, she can cry because your extra sensory perception wasn’t working properly, and you gave her porridge instead of corn flakes, or too much honey, or not enough honey, or the wrong coloured straw to drink her smoothie (that you really want her to drink, because she needs every bit of help she can get right now), or you are helping her to get dressed because she is so damn tired, and you choose the mauve knickers instead of the pink, all before your morning shower. These are the days that you know you have to tell her. It’s time to tell her. Really, it’s unfair not to tell her, that today will be the day when she gets the blood taken for a cross-match. But still you waver.
These are the days that when all the other kids are jostling around, and straggly lining-up to go into class to start the last day of school, you will be sitting in the school car-park after dropping the big one off, applying Emla to the tender skin of the inner arm. Looking at the those thin blue streaks and hoping one of them will be plump enough to puncture.
These are the days when all the other kids are sitting on the mat in a circle, perhaps thinking about who they will play with at little lunch. Your kid is sitting in a hospital waiting-room that smells of chlorhexidine and the ghost of urine, hopefully also thinking of who she will play with at little lunch, but more likely thinking about nurses and tourniquets and things that pierce vulnerable flesh to get to the life blood beneath.
So these days are the some days when you think it could all go pear-shaped.
And then it doesn’t.
You tell her that it’s today, and she doesn’t lose it. Instead she looks at you, eyes so big and blue, innocent and wise all at once, sclera so yellow it’s almost green with the funk of excess bilirubin, and says, “Yes, I think I am ready for a transfusion, I pulled my eyelids down yesterday, and looked at my conjunctiva, look, they’re really pale. I must be low. Even though I’m not really that tired, only when I have to stand up for too long, then my legs get all wobbly. And what is the plural for conjunctiva anyway, do you think it’s like the word octopus?”
These days, your heart leaps and lurches all at once. It zings with relief, at the miracle of adaptation. That the plasticity of the brain, and the wiring of the body, can allow a human adapt to almost any situation, given time. Given the right conditions. And in that very same moment, your heart feels denser than element 117 and just as unstable, as you yearn for a life for her that doesn’t know anything about haemoglobin or conjunctiva or local anaesthetic creams or blood typing or even hospitals and their strange layered smells. You wish all there was was little lunch. And then big lunch. And shithouse spider craft.
Okay, this could be the last in these transfusion posts for a few months. Thanks for humouring me.
…From The Ashers xx