Everyone usually asks: how did I know you were ill?
The first signs were on our blustery October trip to Cornwall. You did so much screeching and crying that one outburst seemed to seamlessly blend into the next. Ben and I were ploughing through red wine in the evenings to soothe our battered nerves.
But I didn’t pay it much attention given that you were about to turn two that week. Your brother was a master in the art of tantrums at this age, so I just assumed that it was all part of the toddler package.
You had barely blown the candles out on your 2nd birthday cake, when on the following day’s windy walk, Nanny remarked that she thought you looked pale. But she’s so discreet in her suggestions, that I didn’t pick up on what she meant and replied, “well, yes Mum.. he has white hair”.
Later the following week, Jane (who had looked after you) described some unusually tired behaviour. (You are a major sleep denier at the best of times.) And that you looked pale. This started to tick away in the back of my mind. I concluded that you must be coming down with something. But there was no crusty cough or snot streaming down your face, which didn’t fit.
By the weekend, I started badgering your dad. “He looks pale Ben. Don’t you think he looks pale? I think he’s pale”. Ben, who is a hospital doctor in anaesthetics (compared to me, the hand-wringing professional worrier) retorted, “well pallor doesn’t mean anything!” He took you to the park and was confused when you wouldn’t even attempt to walk.
My internal dialogue of concern continued bubbling away. So much so, that whilst daddy was snoring on the Sunday night, I was googling leukaemia. I don’t know what I thought I knew about that, but something made me idly research the symptoms before bed. It’s very relaxing pre-sleep reading material.
The symptoms were:
- Sleeps a lot
- Usually manifests in 2-4yr olds
- Particularly boys
This did nothing to abate my worries. But it could have been that you were anaemic. Or any other fucking thing my amateur sleuthing hadn’t thought of. So I took a deep sigh and reserved judgement.