Thursday, 30 June 2011

English Lesson

Blotchy eyed and with a tear-stained face, Claire meets us at the door holding a small child in her arms. His chubby face is flushed with colour and steam comes off him where the cold compress is applied to his back. A quick check with the thermometer only confirms the fever and gives it a number: 40.9 degrees Celsius, or 105 and a little bit in old (and American) money. It's the highest I've ever seen.

"I only went out for five minutes, just to get some milk from the shop. I left him with Liana - the nanny."

She whispered the next bit.

"By the time I got back you were already on the way. Sounds like he's had a febrile convulsion. She was terrified, thought she'd done something wrong, and I can't convince her it wasn't her fault - we both ended up crying. Will you have a word with her? It's just that Andy's never had a fit before."

"No problem. Lets deal with little one first. I have to say, you seem quite calm about it all!"

"I'm a paediatric nurse in the A&E down the road, actually due on shift in an hour. Obviously it's a little different when it's your own, but at least I know what I'm dealing with. We've thrown everything at him, he'd only just had paracetamol just before I went out. Poor Liana's completely freaked out by it all."

Quiet, muffled footsteps shuffled towards us, and I could see Liana tentatively head back into the lounge.

"He's OK?" A slight accent gave away her foreign origins, but I couldn't at first place the country.

"He's absolutely fine. He has a fever, and babies sometimes do that when they can't bring the fever down. He needs some medicine, but he should be just fine."

"So I shouldn't called the ambulance?"

"It was good to call the ambulance. If a baby has a fit then he needs help - so don't worry."

"I'm sorry. I don't want you tell me off, I don't want you think I hurt Andy." Her look darted between Claire and me. "I love Andy - he's like my own baby - I never hurting him!"

Claire handed Andy over to me and went to put her arms around Liana. "You did everything right. I know you would never do anything to harm him." Then she turned to me. "Liana's been here for nine months, since he was five months old and I went back to work. She's like gold dust - I don't know how I'd ever manage without her! I'm helping her with English, and she's trying to teach me Greek - although she's a much better student than I'll ever be."

At last, Liana smiled.

"I can hold Andy?" she asked Claire.

"Of course you can."

"Efxaristo!" she said as she took Andy from me and held him tight. 

"I presume that means thank you?" I asked Claire.

"You're a quicker student than I am!"

"But now," laughed Liana, "you have to say it!"

"Forget it. My language-student days are over. I'm sticking to what I know."

As we walked in to the department, Claire was met with some quizzical looks, one in particular from the nurse in charge.

"I know it's a bit rough in here these days, but now you bring your own security detail?"

"Well, you know, these paramedics, they're always hassling us, interrupting our peace and quiet. I thought it was time we hassled them instead."

"Sorry," interrupted Liana, "this word hassle, it means to look after somebody?"

We left them in the department and went to find someone else to hassle.


Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Bless that nanny-I am a nanny and absolutely understand the feelings of Liana. Fear drives a lot of behaviors-this time it drove her to the phone--the right behavior. Thanks to her swift response, the little guy will be fine. Atta girl; nannies love their kids.

burned-out medic said...

it is always nice and scary at the same time to take care of our own people.