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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sick Kids and Mothers

It appears it is nearly impossible to get through a winter without getting sick in this household. I get it. I have two kids in kindergarten . . . a breeding ground for germs. A dirty, sticky, germ-infested little haven where small people all share pencils, snacks, glue, and every other sort of magnet for parasites, viruses, and bacteria of all description.

My oldest son, my dearest, first-born Thing 1, still has tendencies to put "stuff" in his mouth. He'll often bite his nail, lick his thumb, or just graze something that he sees is dirty. He is predominately our (what I like to term) "plague carrier". In simple terms, he brings the germs home from school, and subsequently we all get sick.

2010 is no different than last year. In early January he contracted a mild stomach virus which trickled through our house over the course of three weeks, causing both my boys to miss a total of six days of school. And we no sooner bid the tummy bug farewell when we were smacked with a miserable cold. The kids came down with horrible coughs, mild fevers, and runny noses. Thing 2 - who always manages to get colds worse than anyone in the house - missed an additional three days of school from the aforementioned illness. While missing school is not a big deal in kindergarten, the transition back to school for my shy and withdrawn little four-year-old is a much bigger issue.

This past Saturday Thing 1 was having trouble getting to sleep. He tossed and turned for several hours, often crying out in pain. After a good two hours of him yelling and crying, I decided to take him into the Emergency Room of the nearest hospital (which is very close - less than five minutes). Although I am not typically a run-to-the-hospital type of mom and am usually more relaxed about my kids' illnesses, he was complaining of ear pain and I could tell there was going to be no peace in our future. I suffered from pretty severe ear infections as a kid, and I can vividly recall the searing pain one feels inside the ear. If you've never had one before - it's downright horrible.

So I packed up my sickie and drove to the ER. On Saturday. At midnight.

Can you see where this is going? If you do have to take a child to the ER at some point, I urge you NOT to do it on a Saturday night. At midnight. EVER.

The triage nurse took his temperature, weighed him, and took a deep breath before she gave me a sympathetic glance.

"The wait time is at least three hours," she said.

"Okay, thanks," I gulped.

While my gut instinct was to get the hell out of this place and run and never turn back, my five-year-old still grimacing in pain reminded me that as a parent it was my job to make the best decision for him. Within five minutes, we were called forward to see a nurse who administered some pain medication to Thing 1. I had already given him some Tylenol at home, and it hadn't seemed to help, and I think they then gave him some Advil. We were then ushered back into the endless black hole known as the ER Waiting Room.

I sat down, Thing 1 draped on my lap, and inspected the crowd. There were other children - one small baby about seven months old with a horrendous sounding cough - a number of elderly people, a handful of loud drunks, and, what I can only kindly refer to as a couple "weirdos". We no sooner got comfortable in our new setting when a paramedic wheeled in a 20-ish looking guy. This man was alert but his white t-shirt was covered in red blood - and he had extensive white bandages all over his head, blood leaking from some of them. Upon closer inspection I could see he had bruises on his face.

Thing 1, wide-eyed in amazement at the scene before him, looked at me and stated,

"I think he had a bad day skiing, mommy."

As I bit my own tongue to stifle my emerging giggles, the man's parents entered the waiting room and rushed over to their wheelchair-ridden son.

"What happened?"

"Are you okay?"

"Who did this?"

"Did you get a good look at the guy?"

"Are you going to press charges?"

The mother, clearly frantic with worry and angst, finally composed herself and bent over to give her son a big huge hug.

"You really had me worried," she said.

"I'm sorry, mom," the man offered.

Since we were sitting directly beside this group of people, I was soon able to learn that the man had been hit over the head with a beer bottle and, then, while he was still stunned from the impact, he was punched several times by a guy who had been at the same party as him. Over the course of the next few hours, I got the impression that the man was a very nice kid, who had innocently been at a party with his friends (his friends showed up at the emergency room shortly after his parents arrived) and gotten attacked.

If one of my good friends weren't an ER nurse, I might not believe stuff like this happened. But it does. All the time.

As I watched that mother take care of her injured son . . . wiping blood from his neck, wheeling him to and assisting him in the washroom, and fetching him water while never once allowing her hand to be disconnected from his, the realization struck me.

It never ends. A mother caring for her sick children, worrying, supporting them, loving them. Unconditionally.

After three hours and fifteen minutes of waiting in that spacious, yet packed room and never being seen by a doctor, I finally picked up my tired little boy and drove him home. I paid my $15 for parking and took him inside our house and slipped him into his cozy, warm bed. Alternating Tylenol and Advil over the next 12 hours seemed to help ease the pain, and we never did end up going back to the hospital.

When I woke up the next morning after a much-too-short sleep I thought not of the young man with the beer bottle gashes in his skull, but of his soft spoken mother and the connection I felt with her.


Anonymous said...

Oh, man. I don't know if I'm ready to consider the beer bottle injuries that may be in my future. They're pretty rare, right?

I hope you're all on the mend, and that the plague starts to clear out of your house soon.

Anonymous said...

NOT fun, what a terrible night for both of you. I hope he's well on the mend now.

I feel what you said though, the worry will NEVER leave us. It's scary, humbling, makes me appreciate my parents more than ever. For now, when they are young, we are mostly what they need when bad things happen. I'm scared for the day when we arent' what they need, when we can't make it better or when they just don't tell us. Would that be better or worse do you think?

Thinking of you! Hoping all is back on track.

Jenn @ My Not So Glamorous Life said...

(Your house sounds a lot like mine this year. Ugh!)

Your story reminds me of this quote:
'Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide FOREVER to have your heart go walking around outside your body.'
--Elizabeth Stone

Our children will never leave our hearts, or the forefront of our minds. And will ALWAYS be a source of worry and concern for us... but isn't it so worth it ?

Capital Mom said...

Man, that story sure makes me grateful that the girl was up for 3 hours last night just because. And not because of stab wounds or a bar fight.
I can't beleive how siick we have been this year. I was kind of hoping it was a once off!
Hope there is no more sickness for you this year!

sssts said...

Wow, what an amazing story. Im a mother of 2 girls 2 and 9 mos, so Im not yet n the stage of bringng thise germs home. However I am always pulling out the hand sanitizer everywhere we go with my 2 yr old. I look forward to reading more from you.

Donna M said...

Poor little fellow. Hope he is feeling much better by now! And that you are too?!

Lara said...

You're right, no matter how old they are we'll never stop worrying or be involved. This motherhood thing is amazing. It's scary, it's joyous, it's stressful, it's love, and it's never ending. And hopefully none of us end up in the ER with beer bottle or any other awful injuries with any of our kids.

Sarah (oceansj) said...

Wow. Maybe it's even more difficult as they get older because you have less control over what kind of people our kids are exposed to?

BeachMama said...

Since Hubby worked at that particular hospital for 11 years, I know the stories well. And because my Mom has sat with me as recently as 3 years ago holding my hand I know that it never ends. I just hope that my kids will want to call me and let me hold their hand should the need arise.

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