One of the hardest things I’ve had to do as a parent is watch my child fall ill. Frankie is now 5 months old, and a couple of weeks ago became sick for the first time. I reckon it might’ve happened after one of those playgroup sessions, where a bunch of babies get together and dribble all over each other, creating a biohazardous cocktail unseen anywhere outside of a chemical weapons facility.
I have a theory that this is how ‘superviruses’ are created. And I’m not the only one. In Stephen King’s early drafts of ‘The Stand’, the virus that wiped out 99% of the world’s population was scripted to have originated at an infant care center, as a result of the inadvertent combination of 32 different strains of slobber on a jungle gym. But, after failing horribly during a string of market research sessions, it was later revised into a more Hollywood friendly storyline, that being a government created bio weapon.
The bubonic plague itself probably emerged when a bunch of Chinese merchants decided to organise a playgroup session somewhere along the Silk Road, and the rest of course, is history.
In terms of the Frankster’s ailment, it started out as cold-like symptoms, such as a nose that ran like a miniature faucet, supported by tiny little coughs and sneezes, each one like a piercing blow dart sailing through your chest.
I can only describe it as a feeling of near powerlessness. Your baby daughter, struggling to breathe, snorting like a warthog with sinusitis. Unable to even blow her nose, the best you can do is attempt to pinch it and squeeze the boogers out like the last remaining remnants of a tube of toothpaste. Or you can get one of those snot sucker things. Where you squeeze the balloony bit to force all the air out, before shoving it up their nose and extracting the snot from their skull like an Egyptian embalmer yanking the brain from Tutankhamen’s scone. Frankie fucking hates the thing. And I don’t blame her. It’s probably as enjoyable as sticking a vacuum cleaner on your face.
As her condition declined, we took her to the doctor where she was put on a course of antibiotics. If you’ve ever owned a cat or dog, then you’ll know the joys of trying to inject some shit tasting liquid into their mouth. And even then, you’re not done. Keeping it in there is as much of a challenge. It’s no different with a baby. I still remember Frankie looking up at me with a cheeky smile, as $20 worth of antibiotics oozed out of her mouth.
And then there’s what the antibiotics look like on the way out. A 5 month old digestive system isn’t exactly built to deal with this sort of thing, so the end result looks like something that Slimer from Ghostbusters would leave behind.
Though, it was truly amazing as to how much of a trooper she was throughout. Despite being chock full of snot, battling watery eyes and, for the most part, struggling to breathe, she was generally her usual happy self. Smiling and singing away. Just getting on with life.
To be fair, Frankie did a better job of being sick than I do when struck down with the man flu. Often reduced to a miserable sook, embedded in the recliner, surviving on a strict regimen of Netflix and chicken soup, fearing the next death rattle could be my last. Yet a 5 month old baby put me to shame.
Even though she’s unable to even speak, she managed to teach me a lesson.
The wonders of fatherhood.