When Alex was in the beginning of his official toddler years, his legs were CONSTANTLY black and blue. He was always tripping on his toys, sliding down the stairs, wrestling with me, you name it. His poor skin never got a chance to heal before the next injury came along. Sometimes there would be tears, sometimes a bandaid, but never a ruined day. Sting went away, back to business! I remember joking at the time how we would probably get a frequent patient card at the ER.
Somehow it took over 5 and a half years for that first visit and certainly not for any reason we expected. And of course, it won’t be on the list of most fun things to do while camping. I have a relatively short list of Facebook friends and I really do try to read everything that Zuckerberg throws at me. And not a week goes by that someone doesn’t mention their ER visit or continuous rotation of sickness from kid to kid. And I would think then “wow one of these days”.
So, yup. I may have some of the days wrong, but let’s say on Thursday Alex didn’t go to school because he was reading a fever. He’s had fevers before, and almost every time it’s one of my world-famous 4 hour fevers that makes non-4-hour-fever-folk boiling mad.
Sure enough, Friday morning he seemed fine to off to school he went and we prepared for an extended weekend of camping (My blog, I’m not putting “glamping”, you know what we do!) Buuuut the school calls and says he has a fever so Kelly picks him up and talks to the doctor’s office on the way home, and they tell her just to keep him comfortable. So we do that by having him do a dose of Tylenol when the temperature isn’t good. This procedure has been getting worse with each time we do it. We thought we had the magic formula : a nice cherry syrup. Hell, just smelling the stuff makes ME want some of it. Well now trying to get the stuff in him is like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube. You might think you were successful, but when you add up the medicine molecules, there are far more on hands, clothes, and chins than where it belongs.
Once we got to the destination, things seemed okay, he was a little out of it. He played on the playground but he seemed incredibly bored, even though there was a pack of little dudes sending gravel down the slide. Normally he would be leading a pack like that and I’d be pretending not to notice. But he just moped around and wanted to go back to camp.
The next day he was worse. The fever kept going up and down and we decided to just let him rest and drink. He was perfectly fine with the rest part, but wanted nothing to do with any kind of solid or liquid going in his mouth. You KNOW something’s up when he turns down McDonald’s, or donuts, or pancakes. On any normal day he’ll eat the Subway Regional Pickle Distribution Center dry. But not that day. We let him do whatever he wanted, which was sleeping, watching TV and playing on the iPad. Any suggestion at activity, food, drink, going outside was met with instant and absolute resistance. We even gave him a bath, which he didn’t terribly mind.
Sunday was more of the same and that night it was spiking up over 102, so we decided to call Teledoc and see what they said. For $8, they listened to my tale and then said “You need to take him to the ER.” I guess we already knew that but now it was official. I guess we were hoping he’d say “Hold the phone over him and I will cast a spell that will cure him now and forever of this demon virus.”
So, nope. We picked him up and put him in his seat, and he knew where he was going. We told him we were just going to talk to the nurse, which is what we were hoping was true. The nearest hospital was about 20 minutes away, so off we went.
He expressed his displeasure with this course of action, but after not eating anything for a few days, his energy level could really only produce whimpers. Both of us were pretty sure he looked smaller, too. We went in and rang the buzzer, and a few nice nurse opened the door. I showed her my little buddy and she went into awesome nurse mode to try and charm him into cooperating. It must have worked at least a little because I heard no crying while we split up and I went down to registration and they triaged him.
His biggest fear was getting poked for blood or a shot, so when the doctor came and saw that he had an ear infection, we thought that was pretty cool. No blood draw required, we’ll get an anti-biotic and he’ll be good as new in a few days. “But,” he says, “this is a hospital. We have an X-ray machine, a radiologist and a very hungry medical biller.” I might have made up one of those things. He wanted to get an X ray just to see if there was anything else going on. He agreed that a blood test would just tell us what we already knew : that a high white blood cell count meant there was an infection because fought. Duh.
So he came back with the X-ray results and admitted some surprise. “So there’s some pneumonia in there, some streaks on the X-ray.” Streaks? Huh? So now there were *two* causes to the fever, pneumonia and an ear infection. He told us he would give us a “high-dose” scrip for antibiotics and we’d give him that for 4 days. “Sure,” we thought. “No one takes meds as good as this guy!” But at least we knew the cause.
It’s game time then, our favorite nurse tells him he needs to take his medicine so he can better. “No thanks,” he says, without the thanks, and about 1000 times more capital O’s. She says she can do it, so we back off. And she does! Some kind of magic trick with a wash cloth and a vulcan chin pinch. Down it went. But he is so damned upset about the ordeal, that 60 seconds, GLORRRRRRRK, up it comes. My advanced optimistic self says “Hey at least he got most of it, right! That barf didn’t look pink at all!”
“No, [dumbshit], it all came out.” So she went to discuss options with the doctor. Oops.
So she comes back in and whispers the plan. They are going to give him some kind of super-shot that will ensure he gets the medicine and not barfed back out. But we’ll still get an oral medication to kind of seal the deal. Oh and the shot burns, so they would be putting some kind of numbing medicine in it too. He won’t like the shot, we know, but hey progress!
A few minutes later it is ON. The nurse returns with backup. Two male RNs. I’m not sure if they cracked their knuckles upon entry or not. Alex is losing his damned mind at this point. He knows the words to stab back too “You’re hurting me! You’re really hurting me!” So they assume the position of holding his arms and legs and proceed to give him TWO shots : one in each leg. And it burns, just like she said. After a few minutes he finally calms down, but he is shaking and hurting and that sucked the most.
The nurse said they needed to keep us around for 15-20 more minutes to make sure there was no reaction to the shot, and this was good for him to calm down. Oh, that sucked bad. You can’t even describe it with words because this kind of thing isn’t supposed to happen. He never hurt anyone, he just wants to be playing and laughing and building stuff and then knocking it down. Making new buddies at the playground and then having them walk through the campsite to find him because he’s so damned much fun. Not shivering in fear and pain on a hospital gurney. And we brought him there.
Now I have a fresh perspective of those Facebook posts of how much that really does hurt.
This story ends well though. The next day we were getting smiles out of him and he was willing to drink stuff on his own. He even wanted a donut, so I damned well got him one. He was back at school today, and is pretty damned grumpy, but his appetite has not returned yet. And if I went from eating an entire warehouse of pancakes to eating nothing for 3 days I’d be grumpy too. I’m just happy to see him setting up his train tracks on the floor again and an elaborate horrific train versus vehicle accident which needs my attention and approval. Which I gladly give.
My lesson is this that those healthy days of fun aren’t always and they need to be appreciated, because dark episodes like this one will smack you in the face and remind you that they can come at any time.