As part of being a foster carer I had to go on a paediatric first aid course. This is good, everyone always means to do these things but life gets in the way. I've babysat my siblings for ten years, but what do I do if a child in my care starts choking? Screaming for my mother somehow doesn't seem like the right answer.
So I did my course a few weeks ago. It was on a Saturday when my husband and I were looking after my six siblings for the weekend. I got up, wished him luck and left the house, laughing to myself as I went.
My laughing was, however, short-lived. The instructor was an amiable enough man, who responded to my informing him that I was a foster carer by going off on a tangent about the horror he'd felt when his friend came out to him just before they were due to move into a flat together. I don't see the connection, but there you go. We had to perform CPR repeatedly on adult dummies, child dummies, and infant dummies. My hands, neck and shoulders were killing me. You have to push down unbelievingly hard to restart an adult heart, and while I'm glad to have that skill now the part of my brain that remembered I had fibromyalgia was frantically screaming 'This isn't an emergency! Why are you hurting yourself if this isn't an emergency?!'
I could have told my instructor, and he probably would have let me off some of the rounds, but that's not the point. In an emergency I'll have to keep going, and if I give up in a practice what hope have I got? Sure, in a really sticky situation adrenaline would probably sink in, but still.
The worst part was going through the numerous potentially fatal accidents that can occur in the home. Breaks, allergic reactions, asthma, burns, chemical burns, ingestion of solvents, things in the eye, falling downstairs, getting burnt by hair straighteners, choking on pretty much anything, getting bitten by dogs, run over by cars, hypothermia, hyperthermia...the list goes on. At lunch break I ran out and frantically called my extremely capable husband to check that one or all of those things hadn't happened to one or all of my siblings. Of, course none of these things happened.
It's scary realising how fragile the human beings we care for are, and how easily the bad stuff can happen. But you can't let it run your life either. How do you guys cope with the fear that surrounds everyday living?
Of course, if this happens then you may really be in trouble.
Will post an update on my writing tomorrow.