Thursday, 17 January 2013

Stress relief for Siblings

I have 3 older brothers - you can imagine my childhood! - and each one of them has a heart condition.  My biggest big brother was born with a condition similar to Julian’s called Secondary Pulmonary Hypertension, caused by another condition called Eisenmenger Syndrome.  My middle big brother has had 2 heart attacks and has twice had surgery to have stents put in, as well as having a blood clot in the heart.  My baby big brother has a Bi-cuspid Aortic Valve, sharing the same Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) as Jimmy Barnes.  We didn’t find out until I was an adult that I have a CHD called a PDA, or Patent Ductus Arteriosus.  What a lovely family history for our children to inherit!

We grew up knowing that my BBB (biggest big brother) was not long of this Earth – or so the doctor’s had said anyway – and as his younger siblings, we were always and forever running to my folks, with the words “He’s running again!” echoing through the streets.  Who could have known that my own children would be repeating those exact same words to me?

It’s extremely stressful growing up with the terror of knowing you may lose your big brother at any given moment, on any given day.  Sometimes you wake up at night, paralysed with fear that Mum and Dad might be telling you today that he’s gone.  I know that my BBB grew up with his condition hanging over his head, but I sometimes felt that he didn’t understand that it hung over ours as well.  I was an extremely affectionate (and cheeky) little sister, and from memory, overdid the hugs when we spent time with him just so he could store them up for Heaven.  Or, that’s what I thought when I was little anyway.  I thought that if I gave him enough, God could hand them out one day at a time, they would last forever, and he would never miss out of one of my cuddles.  My little girl is exactly the same with Julian, hugging him to the point where I think he sometimes feels a little smothered by love!

Knowing how much that affected me as a child, Nigel and I try our best to make sure that Julian’s younger brothers and sister have a little ‘stress relief’, away from the worries of their big brother’s health.

So today, while Jules is staying with my parents for his own break, we took Ayan, Ella-Shae and Boey on an adventure drive to Fingal Head.  This time, my sheer terror for my children was from watching them creep closer and closer to the edge of a cliff with their Dad to peer over the edge and watch the water crashing onto the rocks.    

This afternoon was full of carefree smiles, and racing on the beach without feeling guilty that Julian couldn’t join them.  We went on a long walk to see the Lighthouse, watched the surfers and searched for dolphins.    

 We collected flowers and shells, drew long lines in the sand, and cleverly used baby powder to brush the sand off our feet to get into the car.

Right now, I’m watching the three of them relaxing on the couch.  They’re tired, and they are relaxed.  And, just for now, they’re not worried about anything.

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