hospital. She has been ill for some weeks now. My brother first alerted us to the problem.
She stopped walking and would cry if she had to stand. She did not want to eat. At sixteen months of age she does not have the language to try and explain where or how something hurts. Nevertheless it was obvious that something is seriously wrong.
Her parents were fobbed off at first, accused of being over-anxious they were told that she was just looking for attention. As she had been a particularly amenable child until recently that seemed so unlikely they ignored that and sought further help.
Then she fell off the sofa while playing a game with her sister - and broke her left arm in two places. It is now in plaster.
And the other problems continued. My niece and her husband are exceptionally good parents - a fact noted by many other people. My niece trained as a teacher. Her husband has been a hands on father from the moment of birth. The two little girls get a great deal of love and attention. Like all children they have their moments but their parents also expect them to behave well and appropriately for their age. My niece encourages them to be active and, when possible, outside.
A third child is expected later in the year. No parent needs the worry of an ill child, particularly if another child is on the way.
So, ignoring the doctor who suggested it was attention seeking they sort the advice of another doctor - who sent them straight over to the children's hospital. And there someone did believe the problem was serious, serious enough to call in a specialist paediatric neurosurgeon on her day off. She had further tests done as a matter of emergency and diagnosed "discitis". It is an inflammation of the spinal column. It is not common but common enough for it to have at last been diagnosed.
Fortunately something can be done about it too. Antibiotics via a drip for a week and then a long term course of antibiotics. Yes, it's serious but the long term prognosis is excellent. Even by the end of the week things should be looking much better.
Keeping a small child on an intravenous drip for a week is not going to be easy - and the hospital, rightly, wants one of her parents there at all times. My amazing sister-in-law will help so will my nephew-in-law's mother.
They are a thousand kilometres from here so there is nothing I can do to help in the way of child minding or meals preparation - or is there? I am going to prowl off to the cheap remainder store at the edge of the shopping centre this morning and buy some activities for Big Sister to share with Little Sister. If it keeps them quiet for ten minutes that might help too.
And it might help Big Sister believe that she is helping to look after Little Sister.