Family health

I've abstained writing about the state of mum's health for the last few weeks because it's something I want to get away from. I don't know if you understand, but when someone close to you has a terminal disease you find much of your life revolving around that single fact. There's always a lot to think about and discuss, not to mention appointments with doctors and specialists. Quite beyond that is a shadow you carry with you everywhere you go. To escape from it for a while, to avoid the subject if possible, is both desirable and necessary. And so I haven't written of her here.

In actual fact her prognosis has improved. Her condition is still terminal, but the chemo she has been having has been more effective than expected and her life expectancy is now 12 months or more. Of course it's not as simple as that. There are ongoing complications with her blood meaning mum has missed more chemo sessions than she has had. And there is the ongoing and inadequate communication from doctors who mean well, but have no real conception of what this is like. There's a whole other story there I can't be bothered going into.

So, on the surface at least mum's immediate future looks brighter. For me it means I can get back to my own life. I'm still a bit of a sceptic in the face of so much confusing and contradictory information, but my general outlook towards her condition remains unchanged: make the most of the time you have, don't dwell on what is to come.

Now my nephews are sick too, quite suddenly. They are both in hospital right now with something just short of renal failure. They are 13 and 10, both came down with very severe cases of gastro which ultimately led my sister to take them to hospital, where they were admitted yesterday. My mum tells me they look like they have just come from a concentration camp. They are gaunt and thin and listless. It's also a bit of a mystery what has caused this, which is the concern now.

They'll be ok. Had it gone on much longer without treatment they may not have been, but the worst has been averted. The doctors are scratching their heads though about what the problem is. It seems more than just a bad dose of gastro. The doctors ask if there is any history of kidney problems in the family, which there is – my sister and a cousin both had serious kidney complaints. Perhaps the problem is inherited, perhaps it is in their kidneys as the doctors seem to be thinking, but something had to trigger it: they both can't have kidney problems spontaneously occur at the same time.

They'll be in hospital for a few days yet as they recover their strength. They're under observation now and will be tested for what ails them. My sister naturally is a very concerned mother right now.

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