I can’t believe it’s nearly Christmas (and it’s been two months since I have posted. Way too long!) Things just seem busier than ever at the minute – and I know that goes for everyone. I constantly have a blog post or two in my head but finding that hour to actually get it out of my head and onto this site has seemed impossible lately!
Anyway, this is an update on how Lucia has been getting on at big school and what we have learned so far. It is also a post that I’d love to get some advice on if anyone has any experiences to share.
So Lucia has now been at school for three months and she has been absolutely loving it. She skips in most mornings happy to see her friends, enjoys play time in the classroom, getting out in the playground and has a real thirst for knowledge and learning. She is meticulous in all of the little bits of work she has to do, participates really well in class and is loving learning to read and write.
She also still loves doing her homework (mostly!) – she used to ask for homework in nursery as she always loved sitting up at the table while Max was doing his – so now she has her wish. She was particularly excited when she got her first ‘proper’ reading book with words last month and now enjoys pointing out words she recognises when we are having a story. Her teacher also told us she is very well-mannered and well-behaved and always has a smile on her face.
Although Lucia starting school has been a big step, our minds have been put at ease thanks to a wonderful assistant in her class who takes amazing care of her each day. She makes sure her compression garments are adjusted every half an hour throughout the day so they are always positioned correctly, helps her at the toilet, watches her in the playground for any trips or falls, makes sure she is safe going up and down stairs and overall just makes sure she is ok physically and mentally. And Lucia absolutely adores her. Knowing there is someone there looking out for her definitely helps at the morning drop off.
A few things…
However, there are a few things that we have noticed since September, and that is Lucia’s tiredness and sickness levels since she started Primary one. And it is all the time. I remember Max being really tired when he started school and I know all of the Primary one children are exhausted as it is such a huge change to a four year old’s life and routine – but I do think Lucia’s fatigue is more intense.
Nursery was only two and a half hours long and Lucia was in a class of 26 in a separate part of the school. Now she is in for five hours a day and mixing with over 400 children on a daily basis in the lunch hall, playground, assembly and up and down corridors.
Since starting in September, Lucia has pretty much constantly had some kind of sickness. High temperatures, sore throats, bad chest, the dreaded vomiting bug and never ending coughs and colds. She has been off school a number of times already, but even when she is ‘better’ she still always has a rotten lingering cough and cold. Then, just when we think she is improving she’ll wake up in the morning completely dosed once again.
So my first question is, do those with lymphoedema or parents of children with lymphoedema find this? We know that the lymphatics and immune system are intertwined and therefore her immune system is compromised, so is this just a normal part of life that we will learn to deal with? Or as she grows up will she grow stronger and more tolerant of illnesses? It’s just not fair and we feel so so sorry for her little pale face.
And then there’s the fatigue – which obviously the sickness also feeds into. But oh my goodness, this is a whole new world of exhaustion. She comes out of school completely wiped out – she is so tired some days that she can’t physically walk to the car and needs carried because her wee legs just can’t manage it. When she gets home it can be tough to get her changed/fed/or homework started because she just can’t physically or mentally manage it and all she can do is get onto the sofa and rest.
She is a lot more teary that she would usually be and will have more frequent melt downs over tiny little things because she is struggling with this fatigue. She has even said to us on several occasions that she doesn’t know why she is crying (or shouting!) and in her words, ‘just can’t control it’. I know I can certainly relate to that – when you are just so tired that all you can do is cry.
She needs wakened every morning and it takes her time to ‘come round’ before breakfast and getting dressed – and some mornings asks to be carried up the path to school. Her sleep can also tend to be quite broken which obviously doesn’t help either – she can be up once or she can be up four times a night which always has a knock on effect.
Her teacher even commented at our parent-teacher meeting that she can see Lucia flagging in the afternoon – and it’s not an ‘I can’t be bothered doing this activity anymore’ but an ‘I can’t physically continue on’ and they will take her work away and allow her to complete it at another time. It’s so good that they understand her well enough to not push her at these times.
Add to that the days that we carry out her Physiotouch therapy and we know she definitely feels more fatigued the day after, as we can see it.
So again, is this fatigue normal? Will it get better as she gets older and adjusts to school life?
Aches and pains
Finally, maybe it is just as she starts getting a little bit older she is learning how to articulate things a little better, but she also now tells us about pains in her legs a lot more often. Nothing major thankfully (apart from today when she seems to have strained her calf muscle) but just general soreness or maybe it’s stiffness. She would sometimes mention her ankle being sore, particularly after ballet, but she has also talked about a sore hip/thigh/knee on both legs at different times over the last few months and at various times of the day.
Again – is this normal?
It can be so hard and frustrating for us as we are always trying to ‘guess’ how or why she is feeling like this since we have no clue really how lymphoedema can make you feel. So if anyone can give us any sort of feedback that you think may be helpful it will be gratefully received.
Happy little lady
Aside from these few niggles, Lucia is still her happy little self and just gets on with enjoying her school life, being with her friends and of course her beloved ballet which is the highlight of her week! We do always be mindful of her tiredness and ensure that we allow her enough rest at the weekends and ballet is more than enough as one outside of school activity. We very much let her lead us and if we have plans to do something but feel she could benefit from a rest day instead then that’s what we do.
Life is definitely all about balance.