We have rolled out the Welcome Mat for Cold and Flu Season at the LadyBug house. Hell, we’ve rolled out the red carpet and treated it like an A-List Celebrity….not like Tom “You don’t know the history of Psychology. I do.” Cruise or Twitney Spears, but a bona-fide, jaw-dropping oh-my-gosh-can-I-have-your-autograph-and-possibly-a-sample-of-your-DNA celebrity. We’re treating Cold and Flu Season like it’s Oprah Freakin’ Winfrey!
Yesterday was our third trip to the pediatrician in the last four weeks. Three weeks ago, Miss Attitude had strep throat. Last week, The Drama Queen had strep throat, and Big Boy had an ear infection. Then yesterday morning the babysitter called to say Big Boy was running a fever and not feeling well. All he wanted to do was sit in her lap, a sure sign that he’s not himself, as he’s always way too busy to sit still for more than a few seconds. A rundown of yesterday’s activities:
11:35AM Babysitter calls me at work. I leave to go pick up Big Boy, calling the pediatrician’s office as I drive to the sitter’s house. Our doctor doesn’t come in until 2:00, since he’s working the late shift1, so I leave a message for him.
11:50AM My poor baby doesn’t feel well at all. It occurs to me the doctor will almost certainly want to see Big Boy, since he’s running fever and he’s still on the 10-day antibiotic for his ear infection; so I call the pediatrician’s office again on my way home and schedule an appointment. The earliest available opening is 4:15.
12:00PM Arrive home, give Big Boy a dose of Tylenol.
12:10PM Call Father-In-Law and ask him if he’ll pick up the girls from school, since I’ll be on my way to the doctor and Deputy Dad will be working.
12:15 Attempt to take Big Boy’s temperature with the ear thermometer, which reads 97 point somethingorother. I don’t think so. Dig out digital oral thermometer. It takes two tries to get a semi-accurate reading under Big Boy’s arm. 99.7. Which means his temp is about 100.7.
12:30PM Big Boy and I dine on fine cuisine, entrees fit for royalty. He orders the chef’s specialty, leftover spaghetti; and I go with something lighter and fruitier, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich Deputy Dad had packed in my lunch.2
1:00PM Big Boy goes down for a nap.
2:45PM Big Boy is still sleeping, so I am forced to wake him up, which makes him very unhappy, indeed. I change his diaper, change his clothes, and strap him safely in his carseat, and we head to the pediatrician.
3:00-4:00PM Big Boy is still and quiet for almost the entire hour’s drive, a certain indication that he’s sick. He couldn’t send a clearer message if he typed it up on personalized stationary and sealed it with a signet ring.
4:00PM Arrive at pediatrician’s office, 15 minutes ahead of schedule. I am SuperMom.
4:00-4:45 We wait.
4:45PM We finally get called to the exam room.
4:45-5:15PM We wait. The longer we wait, the worse Big Boy feels, and the hotter he gets. By the time the doctor comes in, Big Boy is burning up, and is almost asleep on my chest.
5:15PM Doctor finally comes in and examines Big Boy thoroughly. His ears look fine. He may have a virus. Doc wants to get a blood count.
5:30PM Nurse pokes my baby’s tiny finger and draws blood. I am told, “He’s a good bleeder.”
5:50PM I call Father-In-Law to let him know we’re still at the doctor’s office, and ask him to go ahead and feed the girls supper.
6:00PM Doctor steps in and says, “The machine didn’t read. [The nurse] will have to draw more blood and do it again. I’m sorry.”
6:05PM Vampira returns for a second feeding from The Good Bleeder.
6:25PM Doctor and nurse come in. The machine didn’t read again. This could mean (a) the machine is just not reading it, which I am told has happened before; or (b) his blood count is either too high or too low for the machine to read. They’re sending us to the hospital lab to have blood drawn and get a nasal flu test. Oh, and don’t leave town just yet, the doc says. “I don’t want you to get all the way back to [Small Town], only to have to come back.”
“So, if we had to come back, that would mean….what?”
“Well, if his blood count is too high [I think? High? I’m not sure. My brain was sort of seizing up at this point, because I was pretty sure I knew the answer to my question.], we’ll need to get him in the hospital and get him on antibiotics until we get the blood cultures back and know for sure what’s wrong.”
6:30PM I can. NOT. completely lose my shit. Deputy Dad is not here with me, it’s just Big Boy and me, and he needs me to be SANE.
6:35PM Nurse takes Big Boy’s temp. 100.7. That doesn’t sound right. He’s burning up. I subtly (no, really!) suggest that reading may not be accurate, and she tries it again. 102.3.
6:40PM Big Boy gets a dose of Advil. I dress him, and the nurse tells me we can come back to the office after we get done at the hospital, and stay there until the labs are back, if we want to. I tell her I need to feed Big Boy, and she says, “Well, since he’s not feeling well, if you want to run through a drive-thru and pick something up, you’re more than welcome to come back here, if you want to, and ya’ll can just stay in one of the rooms. You can eat in there, and just hang out. That way, you don’t have to take him in anywhere.” I thank her profusely and tell her
I want to have her babies we’ll probably do just that.
6:45PM In the parking lot of the doctor’s office, I call Deputy Dad and calmly (no, really!) tell him what’s going on, that Big Boy and I are headed to the hospital for the labs. I am secretly proud that I don’t start crying until just as I’m hanging up.
6:50PM Arrive at hospital. Nurse With Attitude at the desk tells me to “Wait by the sign.” We register and are told to return to the desk, where Nurse With Attitude3 barks at me, “You’ll have to go wait in the waiting room.”
6:55PM I put down diaper bag and purse and sit down with Big Boy in my lap.
6:55 1/2 Nurse With Attitude calls us over P.A. We have been in the waiting room approximately 15 seconds. I reload my shoulder with diaper bag and purse, heft Big Boy back onto my hip, and go back around the corner to the desk. I begin to suspect Nurse With Attitude is on some sort of power trip.
6:56PM My suspicions are confirmed when Nurse With Attitude, who called us to the desk looks at me like I’m invading her country and says, “Just go sit over there,” with a head-jerk in the general direction of a chair.
6:57PM I sit in the chair, feverish Big Boy in my lap, feeling very alone, and try not to cry.
7:03PM Big Boy and I are called back to have his life force drained from his body. The nurse (different one. This one minus the Attitude.) tells me to wait while she gets “someone to help me hold him down.” I sit on the bed, feverish Big Boy in my lap, feeling very alone, and try not to cry. I fail.
7:08PM Three nurses work together to keep Big Boy still, anticipating that he will flail about wildly. He doesn’t. Although he cries loud and hard, the nurses note how still he is, commenting, “He doesn’t feel good, does he?, to be so still.” I hold Big Boy’s head, my hand across his chest, talking to him, kissing him, apologizing to him. Nurse Needle takes for.ev.er. to find his vein, searching his baby arm – which now looks ever so tiny – with the sharp metal probe, until she finally hits oil. Somewhere in the middle of the process, one nurse’s elementary-age daughter (!!!) walks in, and I resist the urge to tell her just how inappropriate that is.4
7:22PM We leave the hospital, both of us traumatized from the visit.
7:23PM With a sinking feeling, I realize I have exactly twelve dollars in cash. Fast food it is. I pick up two Party (child-size) Burritos and two drinks at Taco Bueno.
7:40PM Big Boy, who, for the last few hours has been mostly silent, except for his occasional crying or whimpering, starts talking as we pull into the parking lot of the doctor’s office.
7:45PM Big Boy’s fever has broken, and he’s feeling a little better. He eats a whole burrito, and we talk and read and play in the exam room.
8:25PM Doc comes in. Big Boy smiles and talks to him, and Doc says, “You’re a completely different kid than you were earlier,” a thoroughly accurate assessment. Doc says the flu test was negative, and Big Boy’s blood count is low, indicating whatever’s ailing him is viral, not bacterial. Which means it will just have to run its course. Which means we went through all that just to hear, “Give him Tylenol and Motrin for the fever.” (But hey, at least we know it’s just a virus, and not something scary.)
8:30PM I call Deputy Dad, let him know we’re on our way home, and ask him to call his parents. They’ve bathed the girls and put them to bed at their house, and will bring them home when I get back to town.
9:30PM Big Boy sleeps all the way home, until just as we are getting into town. Then he wakes up VERY unhappy, and starts fussing. By the time we pull up to the house, he’s bawling. I take him in and start to get him ready for bed. He cries the entire time I am changing his diaper and getting his pajamas on.
9:35PM In-Laws bring the girls home. Big Boy is SO glad to see his sisters, he instantly forgets why he was crying and starts smiling and playing with them.
9:45PM In-Laws leave, and I try to get the kids calmed down.
9:55PM I read Big Boy’s bedtime book, rock him and sing his lullaby, and put him to bed.
10:00PM I say the bedtime prayer with the girls, tuck them in and kiss them goodnight.
10:01PM I collapse into the chair, exhausted.
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1 I’m sure some of you have wondered why we drive an hour (one way) to the pediatrician’s office. The two main reasons: (1) We love and respect this doctor. He has seen The Drama Queen since she was 9 months old, and has been treating Miss Attitude and Big Boy since birth. (2) The office is open until 9:00PM three nights a week, and open 9:00-12:00 on Saturday mornings. (There are three doctors in the practice. They take one late night a week each, and rotate Saturday mornings.) I challenge you to find a pediatrician with better office hours.
2Yes, Deputy Dad packs my lunch in the mornings, along with the girls’ lunches. Shut up.
3I should note that I have the utmost respect for nurses. They are generally kind, caring men and women, who are largely overworked and underappreciated. However, this particular nurse was unfriendly and downright rude.
4Look, I won’t pretend to know that nurse’s situation, or the particulars of why her daughter was at work with her last night. But, geez, at least keep her away from the patients, if not for their privacy and peace of mind, then for her own health!