DIARY OF A DEMENTED HOME WORKER It’s week 87 and an overnight trip to Dingle was less Fungie and more ‘Fun-gone’ when the five-year-old started coughing and spluttering like no-one’s business
• WE had good innings to be fair – almost 20 months into the global pandemic until the family had its first experience of a Covid test. I can’t complain on that front at all, even if the timing was off, like a long way off. We’re a pretty low key bunch and don’t go away that much but we thought we’d push the boat out over mid-term and have a night away with the cousins. Go a bit mental for the heck of it. We settled on Dingle – we hadn’t been in years, and it was an easy drive, with the added bonus of getting to visit the aquarium. Typically, the five-year-old started sniffling a bit last Thursday, and was a bit stuffed up as we headed off on Friday. No temperature though, so no mad concern (except me asking her every 10 minutes if she had a sore throat, and constantly feeling her forehead, standard stuff). Then on the drive down I heard Claire Byrne interview a doctor who basically made me feel like public enemy number one. Apparently Covid symptoms are changing all the time, and a sniffle and stuffed up nose could be as much as you get. Get tested straight away, was her advice. I won’t lie, I wished I hadn’t heard that bit but as we were over the county bounds we soldiered on. And changed the radio station.
• One bowl of chowder later, and a few hours spent watching pelicans (or was it penguins?), possibly the world’s most adorable turtle (could have been a tortoise), some freakily evolved otters and a cute Nemo lookalike, we had all perked up and were loving life so much we were already planning the next staycation for the Christmas holidays. Fast forward to the next morning and after checking out from the hotel we said we’d have one last trot about the town, and that’s when things started heading south. The five-year-old was as flat as the pancakes she refused for breakfast, wanted to go back to the car and had an insanely over the top reaction to me not buying her a €3 Fungie fridge magnet. Yeah, at that stage it was definitely more like fun-gone. The words of Claire Byrne’s doctor were ringing in my ears. There was nothing for it but to book a test at the Ballinacarriga centre and hit the road (skipping on the goodbye hugs with the cousins and trying to ignore the look of mild terror in all their eyes).
• The poor thing was so miserable she slept for most of the drive back, and given her past record of dramatics at doctors I didn’t fill her in on the plan until we were pulling in to the test centre. Like a shot she unclipped her belt, tried to climb up on the back window ledge (we’ve a small car, it was never going to work, but to be fair it was worth a shot), and with clasped hands repeatedly sobbed ‘have mercy on me, I beg of you.’ If I hadn’t been feeling so carsick I’d have been impressed by the show. I was concentrating mainly on not throwing up, while making feeble attempts to dislodge her from the back while the poor person standing outside the window looked on without batting an eye (or at least I’m pretty sure they didn’t, it was hard to see through the full PPE). Seriously, I’m sure they were tired as it was the end of the day, but they couldn’t have been more patient, lovely or gentle which I was so grateful for. How did I get her to calm down for her test? I said she could get a new teddy in on the way home in Clonakilty, and opportunistic as you like she went for it (flip sake, I should have got the €3 Fungie).
• At that stage, too, the resentment at how much a night away in a hotel in Ireland costs was properly sinking in and I realised a few days in Spain would probably have cost less. I don’t want to sound all whiney (and I swear to God I’m not tight), but it can be hard to get good value in Ireland I feel. Admittedly I’ve no idea how much it costs to run a hotel – quite a lot I’d imagine – but main courses on a bar menu that cost €28/€29? That’s a bit hard to swallow, in fairness like. And paying top dollar for hotel rooms that have the kind of toiletries that you’ve no desire to take home with you? I don’t know. Now we did have great fun, the kind of fun you probably wouldn’t have at home. I’m not sure when again I’ll play charades with my nephews where the skitting is off the scale, so that sort of stuff is priceless; but I’m thinking Airbnb might be the way to go.
• Anyway, the test came back all clear (I felt that might have been the case when she was well enough to see the open goal), so at least that. And it was back in less than 24 hours as well, which given how busy they said they were, was impressive. On Dr Tony’s advice, though, we had pulled the plug on trick or treating plans earlier in the day. And when the text saying we were in the clear and good to go came at around 3pm (ish – with the clock changing did anyone really know what time it was at any stage last Sunday?), we said we’d still let it off. Part of me felt a little bad, but in fairness this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, too good to pass on. Silver linings and all the rest. And sure there was always the teddy.