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))