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A Life Less Lost: Chapter 23

...But it was obvious from the beginning that Lady (a Great Dane) regarded this new baby as her own pup and would protect James from any harm.

This was made abundantly clear when the health visitor came to check the baby for click hip. I had run upstairs for a clean nappy whilst she rotated James' legs, making him cry. When I returned, the dog had pinned this amazingly composed woman to the wall with a paw on each shoulder. Lady wasn't growling, barking or hurting her at all, just preventing her from touching the baby...

Kimm Walker recalls the infant days of her son James who is fighting for his life in a battle with cancer.

To purchase a copy Kimm's book A Life Less Lost click on http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=A+Life+Less+Lost

And do visit her Web site http://kbwalker-lifelesslost.blogspot.com/

The rest of the week plods on to the beat of hospital time. Howard and I cling to one another in the dark of our hotel room and feel guilty for being whole and finding comfort. A woolly numbness shrouds me and I observe events as though detached.

Howard's brother, Matthew, comes to visit on Friday and stays with James while we go into Birmingham in search of birthday presents. Then in the afternoon, James' friends, Rory and Martin, come to see him, thanks to Rory's mum, Joan, who drives 120 miles each way. On Saturday, Jim and his family, Alex, his parents and friend Sam also make the long journey. On Sunday, Howard's cousin Michael drives for five hours from Scotland to visit. James receives over 70 cards and loads of phone calls, which really cheer him up. He even gets a card from a lady we'd met having radiotherapy and another from the woman who supervised his piano exams. These acts of love and kindness penetrate my emptiness and fill me with wonder.

The doctors keep James on an epidural for three or four days but start him on physiotherapy on the second day after the operation. By Monday, he's able to go down to the gym twice and work out for a total of two and a half hours. He even does another half hour on Tuesday morning before we set off for home.

It's his birthday and the nurses give him a little surprise party before we leave. There's a cake, treats, cards and even a ten-pound gift voucher. The surgeon comes to see James and tells him he's pleased with his progress. He also explains that James' tumour is so rare and unusual that it will be written up in the medical journals.

At last, eager to be on our way, I realise that James is hesitating. He feels I'm rushing him. I imagine he's afraid to be away from medical help and out in the real world where he will have to face other people's reactions and life
without his leg.

*

After James was born, I couldn't wait to get home. I shared my hospital room with three other new mothers, one of which had just delivered her sixth son, the other five had all been put in care. She was about my age and was apparently hoping for a girl. Smoking was allowed in the dining room and the food was highly refined. Constipation is not advisable when you've just given birth. As this was my first baby and he was a little jaundiced, I had to stay in for three long days.

When I finally did get home, though, it was really scary. It hit us suddenly how little we knew about looking after a baby and the responsibility for his health and safety seemed enormous. It had been so easy in hospital to feed and bathe James but completely daunting without a trained nurse standing by in case of emergency or just to offer a little advice.

In our small cottage, the nursery had been decorated and curtains made. We'd received many splendid baby gifts, which I frequently admired and showed off in the months before the birth. Howard had refurbished an old cot from his parent's attic and turned a woodworking project from high school into a wardrobe. We'd also purchased some second hand baby equipment from a woman in the village, including a wonderful old-fashioned Silver Cross pram.

The woman had been expecting her first grandchild and assumed she was in the 'change' when, instead, she discovered she was pregnant herself. She'd bought lovely new things for this unforeseen child and had no intention of having any more children, now that he'd outgrown them.

But we'd still been caught somewhat unprepared for this early arrival and Howard worked his socks off to get everything ready for our homecoming, from ensuring the whole house was toasty warm to the embarrassing purchase of necessary feminine sanitary wear.

We were also worried about the reaction of our Great Dane, Lady, fearing we would have to find her a new home if she showed even the slightest signs of jealousy. But it was obvious from the beginning that Lady regarded this new baby as her own pup and would protect James from any harm.

This was made abundantly clear when the health visitor came to check the baby for click hip. I had run upstairs for a clean nappy whilst she rotated James' legs, making him cry. When I returned, the dog had pinned this amazingly composed woman to the wall with a paw on each shoulder. Lady wasn't growling, barking or hurting her at all, just preventing her from touching the baby.

***

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