drunk Elsa

A Picture That Says a Thousand Words*

(*There will also now be approximately 1,000 words to accompany it, though. Well, would you expect anything less from me?)

So, last week, Max started school.

*quick pause while I dramatically dab at my eyes*

He pulled the living room clock off the wall while taking a photo in front of it, I left his wellies in the house and his schoolbag in the car, and, as soon as we arrived, he went around telling everyone he had a pair of pants in his bag*, but, other than that, it was all good.

(*The school gave us a list of things children should have in their schoolbags and it included a spare pair of underpants and socks. How was I to know that would be the most interesting thing to happen to Max all day?)

Anyway, I have a lot of feelings about the start of my baby’s school career, obviously, but most of them can be summed up by this scene I walked into in his bedroom that first morning:

drunk Elsa

It’s pretty much how I’ve been feeling this week, tbh. Who knew Queen Elsa and I would ever have anything in common?

But as I was saying.

Max started school last week, and, so far, it’s gone pretty smoothly, give or take a tantrum or two. (Not school-related, just random stuff that he’s been acting up over, presumably because of the big change of routine) So it was all good.

Then I caught the head-cold from hell.

It wasn’t Covid (Side note: I wonder if there will ever be a time when we WON’T have to caveat those kind of statements with ‘Not Covid?’), but it was one of those colds that would basically lie dormant during the day, then, as soon as I tried to sleep, it would make me cough until I threw up.

Nice. Love that for me.

Suffice it to say I did not get a lot of sleep that week: and, in fact, on Thursday night, I didn’t get ANY sleep at all, on account of the cough being so bad I had to go downstairs and attempt to sleep upright on the couch, so as not to keep waking the rest of the house with the constant hacking.

(Spoiler alert: My attempt was unsuccessful. Shocker.)

That was the day Terry realized he probably had chicken-pox.

Yes, chicken pox. The one you get as a child.

Yes, he HAS had it as a child.

And yes, it turns out you CAN get it twice, especially if, as in his case, you have a compromised immune system caused by a kidney transplant.

It took two separate doctors to diagnose him with chicken pox – and not, say, MONKEYPOX, which was also a consideration at one point; a mission that was complicated somewhat by the fact that he obviously couldn’t go into the surgery in case he was still infectious. But diagnose him they did, and, by Friday night, we were both feeling pretty fragile, and in desperate need of a good night’s sleep.

That was the night Max got food poisoning.

Max’s school has a half-day on a Friday, and my parents had very kindly offered to pick him up for us, and take him out for lunch to celebrate his first week of Primary 1. <FORESHADOWING>

Max thoroughly enjoyed himself, and, by all accounts, ate a vast quantity of food… which he then threw up all over his bedroom, the hallway and the bathroom at 2am that morning.


To his credit, the poor soul had tried his best to make it to the bathroom, but had been unsuccessful, so I cleaned him up, comforted him, and got him back in bed (Terry was still sleeping at this point). I had just finished cleaning up the bathroom floor, though, when Max’s bedroom door opened, and he re-appeared for round two.


By this point he was obviously quite distressed, and, in a totally unprecedented move for him, asked if he could spend the rest of the night in our bed.

Now, I’m not joking when I say this was unprecedented. Max has literally NEVER slept in our bed, which is something I’d actually been a bit sad about, because I secretly thought it would be quite nice to all snuggle up together. (HA!) I have tried to take him in with me a few times when he’s been unwell or otherwise upset, but he’s always lasted 10 minutes at most, before politely asking to be returned to his own room, so when he asked to come in with me, I knew he must be feeling rotten.

Well, we headed upstairs, and I, being something of a novice at the whole “child in the big bed” thing (And, in my defense, believing the vomiting was over by this point), made the rookie mistake of putting Max in the middle.



The 3rd episode of vomiting resulted in us having to change the bedsheets and clean the bedroom and bathroom floors.

The 4th – by which point I’d at least had the sense put Max on the outside, with a plastic bowl by his head – resulted in a change of pyjamas for both Max and myself, plus further cleaning of the floor.

By the time we reached the 5th and subsequent episodes, however – and there were so many I lost count – we were old hands at the vomitin’ game, and I was only having to leave the bed to rinse out the bowl. Small victories, guys. Small victories.

The sickness ended at around 5am, and there we all lay; one with chicken pox, one with food poisoning, and the 3rd coughing so much she kept the other two awake.

What a time to be alive.

The next morning, I contacted my parents to let them know what had happened, and my mum told me she’d woken at exactly the same time Max had, and with exactly the same thing. We’re pretty sure it was something they both ate at the restaurant, but, whatever it was, it cleared up reasonably quickly, and they were both back to normal by Monday.

That’s when we found out Terry actually had shingles, not chickenpox.


This time, it took a call to his consultant, and four hours in an isolation room at the hospital, where he was swabbed and tested for every disease known to man, before they were able to confirm what was actually wrong with him. Shingles is a pretty nasty disease, and can be even worse for people with Terry’s condition, so he was put on a course of antivirals, and will have to go back to hospital on Monday for more tests. In the meantime, he’s still in a huge amount of pain, and is struggling to get much sleep because of it, so we’re just keeping everything crossed that the rest of us can somehow manage to remain healthy for long enough for him to recover.

Can we do it?

Er, probably not, knowing us. But, for now at least, we all seem to be on the road to recovery; let’s just hope we stay that way…

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  • Jocelyn


    As a fellow immunocompromised person, i was reading this and thought … “I bet those are shingles, not chicken pox…” 🙁 I had them first in 2019 and had two re-occurrences this year. I can only commiserate – they are awful. I’ve had good success with acupuncture for the post-therpetic nerve pain. And, if there is a reoccurrence later, he’ll be able to recognize the pain and get the anti-viral meds right away. My doc told me they work best within 72 hours of the rash appearing. Hope everyone is feeling better soon!

    August 24, 2022
  • Myra


    Your mum told me about this episode and I thought it was shingles as well. I’m glad they tested Terry and gave him anti-virals asap. Hope he gets better soon and that you are now all well

    August 25, 2022
  • Erin


    Ughh, that sounds like a hell of a night 🙁 Shingles are supposed to be awful, and duh, so are throwing up and coughing to death so I hope everyone is feeling much better.

    August 26, 2022
  • Lori


    I have had shingles 5 times, I went to the doctor to get the vaccine and they said I wasn’t old enough. Five months later -round 1. But my mom and grandparents all had shingles multiple times so I knew what it was immediately. Went to the doctor and they gave me valacyclovir. It was gone in 2 days. Finally was able to stay clear of it long enough to get both vaccines. No problems since. So sorry Terry is in pain.

    August 27, 2022
  • Ghalia


    What. A. Saga. I have no words except I really hope you all feel better soon x

    August 29, 2022
  • dublinerInDeutschland


    oh gosh that food poisoning sounded awful! My daughter once had a vomiting bug she picked up from creche and there was an awful night with multiple vomiting bouts and many changes of pjs, bedsheets etc etc.

    September 6, 2022
  • Lusa


    Omg, that sounds like an hellish night and weekend! Hope you all had a quick recovery!

    December 24, 2022