Saturday, 17 September 2016


My daughter is fast approaching the age of 18. The downside of this is that it makes me feel old. The upside is that she now says she wants a glass of champagne on the day - which means I get to have the rest of the bottle.

Eighteen means - in paperwork adminy terms - she’ll be an adult, so things are now transitioning away. Her neuro-psychiatrist has referred her to adult services, social services are swapping, and her long-term paediatric consultant won’t be her long-term anything any more. 

We’ll miss Dr Keya. Astonishingly, in 18 years, my girl has had just two paediatricians. Dr Keya took over when the first one retired, and overlapped with him at his clinic, so she’s know my girl since she was tiny.

We saw her yesterday, and I was expecting it to be a goodbye check-up. But it didn’t quite work out like that.

Dr Keya spoke to my daughter directly like she always does, and always has, with kindness, patience and interest. She knew knew about my girl’s back operation being a success. She also knew all about her being admitted to hospital with pneumonia since she’d last seen her. “Oh, they all told me about it on Ward 5,” she said. “I’m so sorry I wasn’t there to see you, but I was on holiday.” 

“Now, because you will soon be an adult, you should be going to see a doctor who treats adults because this is what happens when you’re 18,” she explained. My girl nodded, solemnly. “You never know, you might see my husband because he looks after adults!” 

“He DOES?” my girl’s head snapped up like a meercat on full alert. This seemed to be the most astonishing thing she’d ever heard. 

Dr Keya couldn’t help giggling (a trait that makes me very fond of her), but composed herself and continued: “I’ve been talking to your endochrinologist, and do you remember we were going to look at your hormones and look at giving you that special hormone oestrogen?” My daughter nodded again. 

“Do you remember we said we’d have to wait until after your operation to look at that? Well, I think what we need to do is get that all sorted. We don’t want to hand you over until we’ve got our plan set up for that, so would you be OK coming back to see us again?” My girl nodded again. 

“Now, another thing you asked me last time, was that you wanted to know whether you needed to go back on growth hormone, because you and Mum thought you were a bit more tired now you didn’t take it. Well, we thought you could have a special test to find out if you need it. Would you be able to come and take the test?” Another nodded response.

The final check-up that wasn’t the final check-up after all, was over. We left, both happy at being listened to, feeling cared for, understanding what was planned, and pleased we’d be seeing Dr Keya for a while longer.

But we didn’t go straight home. The nurses and Dr Keya had all expressed concern about my eye, which was very bloodshot, sore, and teary. I’d had a problem when I’d taken out my contact lens that morning, when it had seemed to ‘stick’ a little as it came out. They advised me to swing by to the hospital walk-in urgent care centre before leaving. 

After being told there was a two hour wait, and waiting for exactly two hours, I was seen by a nurse, who diagnosed a ‘corneal abrasion’ (I’m sure they did two tracks on Later With Jools Holland last night). "It's like a grazed knee, but on your eyeball," the nurse explained. This is now my new favourite sentence.

So I’m typing this at home, a day later, with an ointmented-up eye, and sunglasses on, having been told it'll take at least 48 hours for it to heal and to stop being so sore. Let me point out it is a very dull day, and I am coming to the conclusion that shades-toting pop stars are utter idiots, because it's really very dark when you wear sunglasses indoors on a dull day. 

Mainly, though, I'm thinking about how my girl, my almost 18-year-old girl, sat with me yesterday through it all, people-watching all that time in the waiting room, asking me if I was OK when I puffed and panted through the pain. Thinking about how sometimes she can be amazingly grown-up. And also thinking ‘Ow, ow, ow’, of course, because I’m way more of a wuss than she is.

Video is Wilco - Red Eyed And Blue

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