Uncle Vetboy

We all know that Luan (aka Vetboy) isn’t really the kid-friendly type. He’s never gushed over Rollo. The kid simply isn’t covered in enough fur.

Nor was Rollo ever sick. Not a snotty nose, not a cough, no colds or flu, definitely none of the traditional childhood lurgies. Sure, he’d get a bit hot and have nappy rash every now and then when he was teething, but nothing that some sticky green panado wouldn’t fix. So Luan couldn’t bring out his cornucopia of medical supplies accumulated after six years at vet school either.

In the beginning, Rollo adored his uncle. He’d gaze at him at the table, where we’d all gathered to eat dinner, hoping for some sort of acknowledgment – a full-on smile, the tip of a lip or maybe even a just a sideways glance.


While the rest of us were oohing and ahhing and waving at the little lad, Luan would stoically eat his dinner and make a point of not acknowledging the wee tyke at all. I admit, it fair broke my heart on many an occasion, but, as Em said, her step-brother was entitled to his feelings.

Or lack thereof, in this case.

Vetboy would, however, sidle up every now and then when Rollo was in the kitchen with me and sneakily give him a once over. I half expected him to lift his lip and look at his gums to check on the state of his health.

Fast forward to April 2022. Everything changed. Rollo was the fourth person in our family to succumb to COVID. (I say this – but Chris was the only one ever tested. So we just assumed that the rest of us had it too, seeing as our symptoms were the same.)

But poor Emma was also horribly sick, and she’d moved into Mom’s flat where I could look after her better. Abandoning Chris, who was on the mend by then, I slept on the floor next to Em, frequently checking that she could breathe and swallow. Telling her not to be ridiculous, of course, she’d live. Yet, worrying like crazy because some poor folk didn’t make it through their COVID. And Emma smokes.

Charl and Em’s relationship had deteriorated greatly by this stage. Still, he was adamant that he could look after Rollo by himself, despite my offering. Poor Rollo rattled around in their flat, watching TV, sockless half the time, while Charl sat outside, working on his didgeridoo. I’d insist on taking Rollo for a walk, and the two of us would meander around the block in a bit of a daze – I liked to think the fresh air did us good.

Luckily, Charl’s patience ran out after a day and a half. He stormed into Mom’s lounge, smacked Em on the head and told her to stop acting sick. She needed to get back into the flat and look after their son. He had other things to do.

Outraged, I sprang into action and snatched up Rollo – a snorty little warthog, dripping snot and very miserable. Grabbed his clothes, bed and anything else necessary and relocated both of them to Mom’s flat. (Mom was in California for three months, visiting my sister, in case you’re wondering.) Charl was livid and had one of his legendary rages, but there was nothing he could do about it.

I confess that I silently wished him a good dose of COVID so that he could see it was no joke.

We knew there weren’t any specific meds that one should take for COVID, apart from the usual stuff one takes for flu. But after two days of no sleep, listening to the little lad battling to breathe and knowing exactly how awful he was feeling, we decided to brave the doctor.

Our usual GP was away, and the locum literally threw the book at Rollo. Steroids, anti-steroids, antibiotics, decongestants, pain relievers etc. The prescription took nearly a quarter of an hour to prepare and filled a small shoebox. While standing in Clicks (predictably, the queue was long at that particular time), I looked down at my aching legs. I realized that not only had I not showered for two days, but I was wearing the leggings that I’d slept in.

So much for practicing good hygiene while riddled with COVID!

It was probably the fourth time I’d been to Clicks in two weeks. We’d started out our COVID journey with nothing. We now had an electronic thermometer, an oxygen measuring device (Luan later pronounced it totally useless), and a nebulizer. Not to mention meds and vitamins up the kazoo.

Luan snapped into doctor-vet mode, read all the labels, checked the ingredients, found syringes to make dispensing the meds easier and generally was invaluable. He even went so far as to hold Rollo’s head still and then pat it like a good dog after one or other dose had been administered.

Rollo went from never having medicine in his two years to having several different vile-tasting things three times a day. It was a nightmare. He wasn’t a fan of having icky stuff squirted into his little mouth, and we were often lucky if the dose even hit the target.

Chris, aka Oupa Tjoppies, would patiently sit next to Rollo, holding the hissing nebulizer mask beside his nose while watching Hey Duggee. Getting him to wear the thing was impossible.

But, strangely, only one of the over-the-counter meds actually seemed to make a difference. Long after the heavy stuff was finished, he was still sick as a dog. But FluPain eventually dried up his little nose, and he stopped coughing and wheezing.

Although my wish (or was it a curse) came true, Charl could benefit from our newly acquired supply of meds, which made his whole COVID experience much more comfortable.

Slowly, people got better, and life returned to normal.

I should add that you reap what you sow. Rollo now barely glances at his uncle when they are in the same room.

Yet, COVID is a strange animal. It seems to affect everybody differently. Leila took three days, and Chris took two weeks. Luan never took to his bed at all. I felt like I hadn’t even managed to shake my hacking cough when Mom returned from the USA several weeks later and gave three of us a second dose.

But that’s another blog.

2 responses to “Uncle Vetboy”

  1. Love your writing Gin – descriptive and painting a vivid, colourful picture of the situation. Looking forward to lots more of this xxx

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