We have learnt a lot about ourselves and about life since Oscar died. The latest lesson that we learned is that positivity only gets you so far. There is a range of emotions we are unaffected by. We don’t feel sorry for ourselves. We don’t feel angry. We’re not particularly confused. We try really hard to take positive choices in our new life as not taking that approach makes us feel even worse and being positive sometimes helps. That was the thinking behind our Christmas campaign. We understand from our counselor that families in a situation like ours often dread Christmas and that when it arrives it is not so bad. We were the other way round. Our point of view was that Christmas could not be tougher than any other day. Why would be it worse not having him at breakfast on Christmas day than on any other day of the week? It turns out that Christmas was much, much harder. Perhaps it is the poignance of the occasion; that it is meant to be a magical time for children, that it is a family oriented time and that it is very easy to compare how you felt and what you were doing last year compared to this. Whatever the reason the Christmas and New Year period were pretty brutal and we probably haven’t quite bounced back yet. But we have learned something. So, for what would have been Oscar’s 2nd birthday on Friday February 6th we made sure we were better prepared. We had a plan of how to occupy our time in order to get through the day but this time we realised that however meaningful our plan was, to some extent all we had to do was to allow the day to pass by. The passage of time is something that we were not so aware of previously. A seemingly harmless ‘oh doesn’t time fly’ feels different now because, like it or not, day becomes night becomes day. It is like the beat of a drum and is so relentless you can almost hear it. And every single beat takes us further away from Oscar.
In the first week of January we met with Oscar’s consultants and they talked us through their understanding of the results of the coroner’s investigation. We had received the results before Christmas but before we agreed to close the case we wanted to understand the medical detail. For some reason this whole time we had completely failed to compute that at some stage we will have to register his death. The thought of it makes us feel sick. We still haven’t done it and have no plans to do so. It’s much easier just sticking our heads in the sand.
Anyway. We now know why Oscar has died. Initially, for about twelve hours, there was some relief. That we actually knew at last. But then the sleepless nights started. We hadn’t angsted about the news much or discussed it at great length but clearly the backs of our minds had other ideas and started to do a load of processing that hasn’t quite settled down yet.
As we understand it Oscar probably died from Rotavirus. This is a very common virus that manifests itself as gastroenteritis in children. It is not generally serious although can be in some cases. Because Oscar’s immunity was down, and all the good bacteria in his system had been killed by the antibiotics that he had been taking for his Osteomyelitis he was potentially harder hit. In very rare cases complications can occur – which is what happened to Oscar in that Encephalitis developed. Again this is not usually fatal but in Oscar’s case it infiltrated his brain stem and he was unable to recover. The chances of this all happening together were extremely low and the doctors are confident that there was just nothing they could do. We were then told that a vaccination for Rotavirus has been around for many years in many other countries. However for cost purposes it was only introduced into the UK about 6 weeks after Oscar was born and unfortunately babies have to given the vaccine in the first few weeks of their lives and it cannot be retrospectively administered, so he missed out on it by days.