Before we arrived in Italy last month for our summer holiday, I wasn’t sure how Bambina would react to the heat. A freak sun storm had blown over from Africa leaving us with a furness of about 40 degrees everyday.
This made it difficult to go outside with Bambina during the day so I had to work out to change get sleep patterns: 6am wake ups, 10pm bed times and long afternoon siestas to break up the day. She adapted well.
However, three days into our holiday Bambina became extremely clingy and cried uncontrollably at the slightest thing. She became lethargic, sweaty and developed a hoarse cough.
I thought it was due to the air conditioning but the Italian decided this was worth a trip to the local children’s hospital.
I’ve been in a few foreign hospitals in my time but taking my daughter was frightening. Although I can understand Italian almost perfectly now, I have to rely upon the Italian to fill the gaps.
Bambina was excited when we entered. Large white walls were painted with characters that pretended to be doctors and nurses. There was a huge fish tank of tropical fish. There were rows and rows if books and tiny table and chairs for children to make themselves comfortable. Of course, dotted around we’re suck children clinging needily to a waiting parent.
Bambina was seen straight away. She weighed perfect for her above average height, which according to la doctoressa equals that of a baby around two years. Bambina us fourteen months.
As Bambina lay limp in my arms, the doctor carried out her observations. After a thorough but routine check up, a listen to her chest and check of her, the doctor confirmed that Bambina had contracted a severe bronchial virus and would need to be given corral i e and adrenaline via a gas mask inhaler for five days, three times a day.
My poor baby!
We went home and set up the equipment. The Italian took out the machine, hooked up the mask and inserted the cortisone and adrenaline. I sat Bambina firmly on my knee; one arm under my arm, my left hand holding down her right arm and my right hand pressed firmly against her head to keep her still.
My heart sunk. Bambina wriggled and struggled to get out of my grasp and the heat only made it more difficult. As we both sweated Bambina slid further and further down my body, screaming the loudest scream that I have ever heard.
The Italian held the mask as close to Bambina’s face as possible whilst the cold grey mist bellowed out. She screamed and writhed in fear. I held my breath. The grey mist hissed at Bambina’s face as she took in huge gasps of air in between sobs.
Eventually after what seemed like an eternity the mist subsided and I held Bambina in my arms to reassure her that all was ok now. She clung to my neck with all her might, curling her little fingers into my hair. Her breathing slowed and she settled into my chest where she was safe.
It was the most horrific experience that we unfortunately had to repeat, upon instruction from the pediatrician, three times a day for five days.
It was horrific to hear Bambina scream like that and have to enforce such fear upon her. She did get better because of it but I can’t help wondering if there was an easier way. The Italian asked the doctor if there was an alternative to the mask but she believed this to be the most effective method and suggested persevering.
I then contracted the dreaded bronchial virus and whilst I didn’t need to be held down in a head lock or wear a gas mask, I did suffer, for weeks and weeks.
Taking care of a sick child is no mean feat, especially when you’re suck yourself. It’s especially difficult when in a foreign country, with foreign rules and you don’t have your home comforts around you.
The hospital in Italy was great, the doctor was kind and concerned and even called us at home a few days after our visit to see how Bambina was bearing up.
No matter how Ill we were, how many screams or tantrums were thrown, it’s for sure that this level of service and dedication would never have happened in Britain.
Nevertheless, Bambina’s trip to the Children’s Ward is a holiday day out that I prefer not to repeat any time soon!