Saturday, December 26, 2009

Counting Our Blessings

We went to an outdoor Nativity Play on Christmas Eve, all that is but our eldest, Matt (more on that, later).

It was in a beautiful setting, we sang Carols as mulled wine and home baked cookies were freely distributed amongst the crowd. It was a fine, crisp night, and there was a beautiful atmosphere to the evening. We used torches to pick our way back to the car, and I came away feeling a warm glow which wasn't solely down to the wine I'd just imbued.

This is the host of Angels - Gabriel tossed flames of fire into the sky, I have to say he was quite spectacular!

We escaped the worst of the snow, but we did have a snowfall a few days earlier. I woke in the morning to find snow angels and a partially built snowman in the garden. Beccy and Abby had sneaked out at 3am, apparently it was a snowball fight that distracted them from his completion. Their dad and Sam helped to finish him off after breakfast.

Usually both my sisters and their families join us for Christmas, but this year one of them and their family are in Spain for the month, and my other sister stayed with her family in the mainland on the UK. As one family is vegan, and the other vegetarian, much as I missed them, it was kinda' nice to only have one Christmas menu to plan. We opted for a "Three bird roast", a pheasant inside a chicken, inside a goose. I still have over half of it left now to re-invent into something else edible..

This week I've been holding my family especially close. Last Friday (18th) we got that 2am call from the police which is every parents worst nightmare. Our eldest had been found unconscious on the pavement, apparently with facial injuries, and was in an ambulance being sped to hospital. They thought he may have been attacked.

I knew he had been planning on going out with his friends, I had driven him there. But at eighteen and as an adult, I don't have a curfew on him. He has never given me a day's trouble, he's sensible and reliable, as so is the crowd he runs with, besides, he's of a legal age to drink, and it's Christmas, isn't it? I simply expected him to come home having had some fun, nothing more.

You can imagine the terror that ran through us.

I stayed home with the girls and Sam, the phone glued to my side, as his dad sped to the emergency room. By the time he got there, Matt had recovered consciousness but was terribly distressed and confused. Hubby was equally so when he caught sight of him - his head and features were swollen beyond recognition, and his mouth and lips were four times their normal size, having "burst" externally as well as internally, they were still bleeding. His heartbeat was all over the place, and it didn't take long for the doctors to realise he was in the midst of having an anaphylaptic shock, a severe allergic reaction to something within his system.

I couldn't understand why his friends could leave him like that - why was he alone? What on earth had happened to him?. It was below zero that night, it's unthinkable as to what would have happened had he not been found.

As a standard procedure the hospital drew blood to screen for drugs, but none were evident and it thankfully came back clear. I've long ago had "the talk" with him, just as I have had with my other two girls, I am far from complacent, but to be honest, any of my kids getting involved with drugs has never been that high of a concern of mine, Matt has his head firmly screwed on, and I trust him. Sure, they are readily available, but he and his friends appear to prefer beer over any substances, and even then, I have never seen him drunk. As for him getting into a fight? To my knowledge, he's never been involved in so much as a scrap in his entire life.

He was admitted overnight, he had an arrhythmic heartbeat and his leg was badly torn up, with his ankle swollen up like a balloon. Slowly, as Matt pieced together what he could, a patchy picture of what led up to what occurred emerged.

Earlier in the evening, he and his friends had taken a "legal high". This is something touted as "safe", and even a child of seven can legitimately purchase it over the counter with no questions asked. I had heard of this being a problem on the island, and had even once spoken to Matt about it. He'd laughed, assuring me everyone he knows has tried it, and that it was totally benign and nothing for me to get my knickers in a knot over. I had warned him then never to take this stuff into the house, and had tried to alert him to it's dangers.

The doctor told us a very pure version of this substance has recently been imported to the shops, and they have had numerous kids admitted, just like our Matt. What they think they are taking is ten times more concentrated than they realise.

Why was he alone? They had been in a club, and he had felt unwell. He told his friends he was going out for some air, and the next thing he knew he was in an ambulance. He often takes off, walking home when he has had enough for the night, his friends just assumed he'd decided to call it a night, and had gone off to head for his bed.

By sheer coincidence, the next morning I received this in the post. It's gone out to every parent on the island:-

Matt was lucky, although still on crutches, he'll make a full recovery. It could have been so, so much worse. He was discharged home the next afternoon, and his face is slowly beginning to heal. His inner lips contracted a nasty infection and he is still on antibiotics as I type, but at least the swelling has eased, and he is in less pain now.

Christmas morning he came along to watch us take our family walk on the beach, but only from a distance.

We parked him on a bench and picked him up on our return. As you can see from the deep bags under his eyes and his split lip, he's been given a lesson to take to heart. There is a silver lining to be had from all this. When he leaves for University next year, I doubt he'll be tempted to experiment there, and the girls have seen first hand, up close and personally, just how dangerous this so-called "safe high" really is.

Yes, I am counting our blessings this Christmas, we have much to be grateful for.

Happy New year everyone, I wish you and yours a safe and peaceful one! ((x))


Hilary said...

What a horrible experience which I'm glad turned out as best it could. Poor kid must have been terrified.. and you even more so. I'm happy to hear that you had a good Christmas despite that.

Fletch said...

Bad trip, good outcome!

Your assessment of the future, inevitable decisions, for Matt and the girls, has nailed it. Perhaps they (all of them) can bring peer pressure to bear in the opposite direction and save somebody else the heartache!

It takes a major shake-up to bring the lesson home, and it is good to know the lad has survived it!

Pretty brave of him to allow the picture to be posted ...

Fletch said...

Me again ...

Got carried away with the pontificating and forgot to mention "Belated Birthday Wishes". No need to ask if you had a nice time. You didn't.

Hell of a way to have to remember your 50th!

Scott from Oregon said...


Well... it may even be more of a blessing. His "experimenting days" may be over.

TechnoBabe said...

I like the way you describe your style of parenting and the amount of knowledge of your kids' activities you have. Lots of parents don't have a clue what their kids are doing. You obviously have a close family and I am so happy your son is all right. I know the whole episode was frightening for all of you. Hugs to you all.

Mushy said...

So thankful everything is okay and basically back to normal. Happy New Year my dear.

jinksy said...

I recently saw a programme on TV about these so called safe drugs - and they definitely are NOT.I wonder why the younger generation can't get enough of a high from simple pleasures - after an evening of doing skip-jive to Acker Bilk's Trad Jazz Band, I'd feel as high as a kite, with nothing more inside me than a lemonade and lime! Those were the days...

chewy said...

You've counted your blessings... best wishes for a safe and healthy new year for you and your brood.

I think the snowman is very cute. Good job!

Leslie: said...

My goodness, you've been through the coals! I'm so glad everything turned out for the best, and that Matt has had a lifelong lesson with regard to ingesting (in any way, shape, or form) anything that could be questionable. I even have to be careful about taking certain herbs because of the medicinal drugs I need to take.

Your island looks gorgeous - love the photo of the girls on the beach! What a lovely way to celebrate Christmas morn.

mrsnesbitt said...

OMG Carol I could not believe the truth and depth of this post! You have my upmost sympathy, if that is the right word! To see the parental involvement here brought tears to my eyes as I see my 3 nephews, all impressionable aged misssing the guidance so needed as they grow up. Hugs Dxxx

SJ said...

Wow that must have been some experience! Glad that he is healing well and will be wiser for the wear.

Shrinky said...

Hello Hilary, hope you are enjoying the holidays, too? You know, bad as it was at the time, if it had to happen, it happened here, on the island, and it may serve to prevent anything worse befalling him in the future.

Hi Fletch, um, Matt hasn't a clue I've posted about this, never mind pasted a photo of him up here, he'll probably freak if he finds out (wink) but hey, I figure the kid owes me one! Oh, this happened over a week ago, we had a good enough day - slightly revised, granted - Matt couldn't make it to church or join in with playing Charades, but my 50th went off fine, thanks. Gee - how did I get to be so f*****g old??? (Sigh)

Lets hope so Scott. eh? (Wry smile)

Aw TechnoBabe, you say the nicest of things! They worry the life out of me, cost me a fortune and have turned me into a full time nag and cleaning lady, but yeah, I guess I'll keep them - for now!

Happy New Year to you too, Mushy. We've all been invited to a big bash of a party this year, looks like we might even make it there now.

Haha, Jinksy, I'll bet your parents still managed to fret over the evils of you jiving the night away, it seems to be a parents lot, don't you think? But yes, the stakes have definitely risen a heak of a lot since back then..

Chewy, our Frosty has been watching his figure this year, this is his new, slender version. Hope he gives me my cap before he leaves!

Yes Leslie, no lasting damage done, thank goodness. I do love living by the sea, Jake and I walk there most days, but it's always more special when the family deems to come along (smile).

Hi Denise, lets hope your nephews manage to find their own way, if they are close as siblings, perhaps they can give each other the guidance that's lacking elsewhere? My sisters were my rock as I grew up, truly my saving grace.

Hi SJ, more than his injuries, it was the shame and embarrassment that hurt him the most. I think that will stay with him for a long time to come.

Jay said...

Good heavens, Shrinky! You and your poor Matt!

I'm so glad he's OK. An awful lot of perfectly nice and decent, sensible kids do something like this as teens (or early twenties) and it doesn't mean they'll continue. For our younger son it was driving carelessly and writing off a car. Luckily no-one was hurt and he became a much better driver for it having learned his lesson. Your Matt has learned something the hard way, too. I'm just so glad he is still with you and largely undamaged (in relative terms).

So were his injuries just from falling plus the allergic reaction? Poor guy. Give him an extra hug from the strange woman with purple hair.

I'm sure he won't need reminding that 'natural' doesn't mean 'safe', but if he does, just say 'arsenic'. LOL!

Shrinky said...

Hahahaha, oh Jay, you are priceless, so you are! Yeah, seems he fell with a crash and mashed up his leg as he went, nothing that won't repair, though. Happy New Year hon, hope it's a good one for all of us..

~Babs said...


Oh, Shrinky, it truly is every parents nightmare!
So grateful this ended with everyone okay,,,,these times are enough to stop parents hearts!
Happy for you,,,,and him.
ps: Happy Birthday

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Oh, must have been so terrified!!! I know I would have been!!!! I'm so glad it turned out as well as it did...and yes, I do believe that he will be a wiser, young man as a result of this experience!!! But I am so sorry that you had to experience this horrible anxiety and fear during the holidays...I hope that it was a wonderful Christmas for you in spite of it all!!! I am so glad to have met you this year...your friendship has been truly a treasured gift in my life this year!! And so, with all my heart, I wish you all the best in the New Year/decade...if anyone deserves great happiness, it is YOU!!! Love you much!!! Janine XO

P.S. just spotted Fletch's B.D. wishes!!! Happy Birthday, dear Carol!!! With love~J.

BRUNO said...

Yeah, just think: In another few days, we'll have 365-NEW episodes of these kind of moments to deal with!

Maybe he'll re-evaluate his "friends" that he runs with, for leaving him hung out to dry on the streets, after this "growing-experience" of maturity?

He was a lucky boy to have been found before it was too late...

smiles4u said...

I am so thankful that your son is okay and just knowing it could have been worse must make you want to just hug him close. I am sure he has learned a lesson in this as well as his siblings in seeing this. There is nothing worse then getting that 2 am phone call as a parent. ((((HUGS))))

How wonderful that you have much to be grateful for and count your blessings. Amen to that!

This live nativity sounds wonderful. And this Christmas walk on the beach sounds perfectly wonderful. I'm jealous. We just have lots and lots of deep snow to walk in. :)

Once again, thank God your son is alive and well! XX Lori

Shrinky said...

Hi Bruno, yup, he's survived to give me more grey hairs for another day! He knows what a close call he's had, he's a very lucky lad indeed!

Hello Lori, I guess it takes something like this to really appreceiate what you have, oddly enough, this Christmas has been especially good, I've been holding all my loved ones close. Yes, the nativity was truly beautiful, a wonderful experience, with the lambs and sheep bleating and the cattle lowing throughout (smile).

Suldog said...

It appears this was all for the best, although heartbreaking. Now he knows, and the girls know, and his friends know, that just because something is legal that does not mean it's safe.

(The converse is also true, of course, but no need to go into that here.)

You all have been blessed, Shrinky. A Merry Christmas, indeed.

And your "three-bird" sounds yummier than ours over here (chicken, duck, turkey.) I've had ours once - we call it "turducken" - and it was good, but pheasant sounds so much classier as one of the three!

Shrinky said...

Hahahaha, "Turducken" - only you Suldog, only you! Truth be told, it didn't look too much like a bird once they had done with ours, it was more like a rolled up loin of meat. It tasted well enough, but there were no cavities for the stuffing to go! I'm glad we tried it, but I think we'll opt for the more conventional type of bird from here on out.

And um, yeah, the coverse - safe ain't always necessarily legal either - may be also true (laughing even harder..)!

Mojo said...

What the hell is in that stuff that it would put you on crutches? Very definitely scary stuff that. I'm happy to hear he's gonna be okay though, and hopeful that the lesson will be enough.

Is it ironic that my word verification is "hasholo"?

Mojo said...

Oh bugger, that's right... you've just had a birthday. Damn!

Well happy belated, and hopefully by now you're able to enjoy it.

And this time the Captcha is "pester"... are you tryin' to tell me something?

*Goddess* said...

Wow, glad to hear Matt is doing better. What a scare!

*Goddess* said...

BTW, your MHK's last name is "Malarkey"?! LOL...sounds like a lot of malarkey to me:)

Shrinky said...

Haha Mojo, how very apt (grin)! Yeah, another year, another wrinkle, eh? Cheers..

OMG, Goddess, I never noticed that, that's hysterical - what a name, hehe! Well, the lad is well enough to be going out again tonight, let's hope he stays that way.