Thursday, February 18, 2010

February 18, 2010

Hi folks.
I feel like I've been so slack with blogging of late, but it really feels like the only news worth posting is the date for Charlie's Fontan surgery, and that still hasn't arrived.
We had a lovely (albeit pretty chilly) weekend in London and managed to do everything we'd planned (with the exception of the Natural History Museum, because every other parent within a 250-mile radius of London had decided to take their children there on the first day of half term, and the queues were around the block. We made it to the Science Museum instead though!)
Charlie had such a lovely time - yet again he really enjoyed feeding the squirrels in St James's Park. There's something so pleasing about watching Charlie spend a couple of hours truly enjoying something that cost nothing at all (apart from a couple of quid for a bag of peanuts.) Since we got back he's been wondering whether we could get our resident garden squirrel (whom Chas has named 'Squiggles') tame enough to be hand-fed peanuts.
Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum was a cross between the Guinness Book of Records and a freak show... needless to say, Charlie loved every minute. What is it about six-year-old boys and people who can do bizarre things with their bodies? He still hasn't stopped talking about the man who could pop his eyeballs out at will.
The London Eye was fun as well - Charlie hasn't been on it since he was about two and he spent most of the half hour 'flight' snapping completely random photos of the London landscape, which I may or may not inflict on you, once I've had chance to look at them all!
We had a wonderfully relaxing time with Pete's aunt and uncle - Charlie was so pleased to see Aunty Margaret and Uncle Eddy again. As per normal, he invaded their bedroom first thing, and really enjoyed sprawling on the sofa with Eddy to watch his new Tom and Jerry DVD. (Charlie's DVD, that is - not, Eddy's!)
Chas and I went to see Mum yesterday, which was nice. Charlie spent a happy couple of hours playing with the toys in 'his' room at her house, and then we went for a wander around the shops. He was also very proud to help her build a new little table and chairs for the garden. (We're still living in hope of the weather eventually getting warm enough to sit outside again!)
Today, we had a visit from our cardiac liaison nurse, Claire, who works at the hospital here in Cardiff. She came to deliver our INR testing machine, and to train us in how to use it.
I'm feeling pretty proud that I was able to jab myself in the finger with the lancet without flinching and test my blood successfully first time round!
It's actually quite hard to deliberately stab yourself with a needle for the first time - it reminded me of the one and only time I tried to wax my legs at home - I had no trouble sticking the strips on, but then sat there holding the end of a strip, counting myself down to the rip... 'One, two, three.... no; one, two... no; one, two, three, pull... er, no. Definitely next time... or maybe the time after...'
But when you're doing an INR test, you only have 120 seconds once the machine has processed the strip to get the blood onto it, and only 15 seconds between pricking your finger and getting the blood onto the strip - otherwise it starts clotting (and as you're trying to measure how long it takes your blood to clot, it's a bit pointless trying to test blood that's already clotted.)
I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised at how painless the finger-pricking was. I'd braced myself for it feeling the same as when you stab yourself by accident with a sewing needle, but it was nothing like it.
The lancets are so sharp, and the special pen jabs it in and out so fast that it just feels like a tap. Charlie was so interested to see what was going on, and didn't seem bothered in the slightest by what we were doing. We didn't test his blood today - there doesn't seem any point in jabbing his finger for the fun of it. He'll have more than enough time to get used to it, post-op.
Once Claire had left, Charlie was examining all the equipment and asked if he could test my blood again.
Without any help from me, he fitted the needle, primed the lancet pen, put the strip in the machine, pushed the appropriate buttons, jabbed my finger and then disposed of the used needle and test strip in the sharps box. He then dug out the rest of his medical kit, and we spent a happy hour playing hospitals.
Although I don't kid myself that he's going to enjoy having his blood tested, I think he'll be ok with it before too long. (I just hope this post doesn't come back to haunt me!)
He's already lining up a box of novelty sticking plasters to choose from every time he has to have his INR tested.
In one way, it's pretty daunting to think that this will be Charlie's life forever, once he's had his surgery (until a new anti-coagulant arrives on the scene, which doesn't need monitoring so closely) but on the other hand, I feel better about it already - it's no longer the big unknown. Plus I can tell Chas (without lying) that it really doesn't hurt.
I think that's about it for now. Sorry for the long, rambly post - it's hard trying to remember where I was up to! I have some nice photos from London, but I haven't had a chance to upload them yet. I'll try to put a slideshow together tomorrow.

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