Thursday, March 27, 2008

My, hasn't he grown?

Tom had his hair cut just before we went away over Easter. The curls were running rampant, the knots were creating morning grooming 'issues' and frequent fringe trims were leaving the resultant mop in a state one might describe as 'mullety'.

Cutting his hair aged him about 2 years in 10 swift-clipping minutes. Where did our baby go?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What is going on in that little head?

So we've been on a short holiday and Tom got to explore many aspects of French culture. Largely speaking, this involved gnawing on baguettes, pretending to drive 'holiday cars' (one of his grandfathers has so many cars that he leaves a few just for holidays) and befriending the local wildlife.

A day or so before we came home, we were wandering around a suitably picturesque Provencal village when Tom and Nik happened upon a cat who wasn't put off by his shrieking excitement and deigned to allow an approach. After a short bout of stroking, the cat nonchalantly departed but not before being declared a 'friend-a-ly cat'. By any measure it was a brief encounter. It provided a suitable opportunity for a little light language development and lessons about caution around animals but Tom was soon onto other exciting projects (including taking photographs - his choice of subject is quite eclectic - 'this dirt!', 'this road!', 'this car!!!') and the stroking fun was seemingly forgotten.

It hadn't gone far. The subject of the friend-a-ly cat was returned to in the car journey back to where we were staying. Yes, he was a very nice cat I agreed. I, too, liked him a lot. Then Tom's finely tuned sense of propriety and decorum kicked in.

We should invite the cat over for dinner.

Surely that would be a long walk, I argued. He doesn't know where we're staying.

This argument was roundly dismissed - his mummy and daddy could bring him in their car. Yes, he would like that a lot. We shall have the friend-a-ly cat for dinner.

I opted to play along. In retrospect this may have been my critical error but it was all in the name of fun language development and, well, we parents don't always know how it will pan out.

So when should we have called a halt? Before we laid a plate of rice at the table for the cat (Tom misheard me suggest 'mice' - or he just couldn't sanction such a ridiculous meal suggestion)? When I tried to use one of his soft toys as a 'pretend' friend-a-ly cat?

We had to start tea without the cat, oddly enough, although his tardiness did not go unnoticed. At some point I said to Tom 'we're only pretending aren't we?'. The tears welled up immediately and I could see Nik and her dad stifling those half-laughs/half-pouts of sympathy as Tom persisted with an increasingly tearful 'he is coming!'

'But sweetheart, cats can't talk... he can't tell his mummy and daddy where we live...'

'He can!' (thank you Pixar and Dreamworks for your witty and realistic personification)...

I tried in a similar, logical vein for a few minutes more. Tom bravely resisted reality. Then Nik came in.

'Ah, the cat has just phoned. He's sorry, but he really can't come. His mummy and daddy won't let him'.

And the crying stopped. Tom turned to me -

'He phoned me on his liccul phone', miming the cat reaching for a mobile on his belt.

The conversations with cats continue -

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Not so NICE

In December and January I drew attention to the publication of the draft recommendations on cochlear implantation from NICE, the body responsible for publishing the guidelines that steer healthcare spending in the UK. The first appraisal consultation document looked promising; bilateral implantation was being recommended for all pre-lingually deafened children as well as the deaf-blind and post-meningitic children. It was all coming too late for Tom, of course, but the future was looking a little brighter for many families.

Looks like we got ahead of ourselves there...

NICE have just published their second appraisal consultation document in which they back-track on this recommendation, explicitly dropping pre-lingually deafened children from the list of those deemed suitable for bilaterals and stating:

Bilateral cochlear implantation is not recommended for children and adults
(...) except in the context of research designed to generate
robust evidence about the benefits to functional hearing and health-related
quality of life of simultaneous or sequential bilateral compared with unilateral
cochlear implantation in those with severe to profound deafness who do not
receive adequate benefit from acoustic hearing aids.

And we were hoping, and campaigning, for a widening of the criteria to include post-lingually deafened children, who would equally benefit from improved hearing in the classroom, and adults. This is the UK's opportunity to catch up with the US and many other countries, display a little bit of common sense and act. What has caused this U-turn?

If you are in any way involved, or interested, please consider responding to NICE through their website. They need telling.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The illness - what happened next...

Where did I leave you? Oh yes, with Tom running a temperature and us attempting to manage our tendency to expect the worst.

Well you'll be pleased to know that it all ended well. Tom got over his illness, life returned to some semblance of normality and we all caught flights to snowy Switzerland and a week's skiing.

This return to normality was not as straightforward as one might have hoped. It took us via a GP who wasn't taking any chances, a referral to A&E where we encountered an equally risk-averse SHO (and supervising Registrar) and an overnight stay for Tom and Nik in the all-too-familiar Queen's Medical Centre. That is one of the assorted legacies of a medical history that features a life-threatening illness and febrile convulsions.

One is not dismissed as an over-anxious parent. One is not dispatched with a slightly patronising suggestion to administer Calpol and leave it a day or two. Indeed, everyone is at great pains to reassure you that you've done the right thing and they would do the exact same.

As it was, it was just a temperature - Tom was bouncing around on his hospital bed the next morning in a manner that suggested he was well on the road to recovery. There had been no need to get that anxious. There had been no real need to instigate a chain of events that led to expensive rescheduling of flights and an uncomfortable, stressful sleepless night for Nik - one that, coincidentally, featured the UK's largest earthquake for many years.

An alarming, terror-inducing portent of something much worse... that passed very quickly and
is all but forgotten now.

The same goes for the earthquake.

So what will happen next time Tom gets a temperature? Will we cope a little better? I don't know. If anyone has any strategies we'd love to hear them.

One thing that reassures me is looking at pictures like this, taken a week after this little drama.