Tom, our youngest, is three and, finally, this is the first christmas (his fourth) that we can all enjoy.

Christmas, year zero for Tom, we were still reeling over the loss of Annette’s brother, Frank, who, sadly took his own life six months after his girlfriend did the same (and if you’re depressed in any way and in Northern Ireland, I implore you to contact lifeline – who helped Frank and Annette following both tragic loses – in fact even if you’re not in Northern Ireland, I’m sure they can point you in the right direction.)

Needless to say that Christmas (and in fact) all of that year was just lost to us. A health visitor later in the year told us Tom’s head looked too small so we spent several months worrying about that (and seeing a consultant and getting an MRI and X-Rays) – small head sounds harmless, but, it turns out, it can point up developmental abnormalities. Happily, in our case, it turned out he just had a small head. But, as you can imagine, the entire year was fraught.

I think (though can barely remember – it’s mostly a blur) that pretty much spilled over to Christmas number 2 with Tom. Worrying about his head size, a dark cloud still (understandably hanging over us from Frank’s death). Then, starting that year, and post Tom’s tiny head thing, he started having breathing difficulties – we had multiple visits to the hospital over this, often staying for a week or more at a time (I think the longest was about three weeks).

Christmas the third, last year, we were still going through the breathing problems – by now though, they it was obvious it was only happening when he had a cold, unfortunately, he seemed to have a cold for several months of the year. If I remember rightly (and I don’t, my wife had to tell me) the kids also suffered from the norovirus that year, so vomiting all round. It was an unpleasant Christmas.

This year though, Tom’s seen a consultant and it looks likely his breathing is what’s known as ‘episodic viral wheezing‘ – basically asthma like symptoms when he gets a cold, we’ve potent steroids, inhalers and, more importantly, enough experience to deal with it if it happens. Better though is that he hasn’t really needed just as much this year – his colds have been less persistent leading to less problems. And the other good thing is that viral wheezers tend to grow out of it age 5/6 (literally; the airways in their lungs get bigger, making them less susceptible to it)

The cumulative effect is to have made the past few years whiz by and Christmas have become one where loss has seemed a bigger factor than cheer.

This Christmas though, fingers crossed, looks like one we can all enjoy. And I hope you can too.

Happy Christmas.


ps I feel inclined to put a “If you are effected by any of the topics in this blog post, please call the following helplines …” but I wont :)