Category Archives: sick kids

Nemesis

I have a temperature of 101.3 so this might come out as gobbledygook, but I did just take some ibuprofen, so we’ll see.

Of course I got Mabel’s thing. I was sleeping with her every night, she was breathing her little hot breaths into my face; OF COURSE I got it. But it has a pretty long lead time, so I was fooled into thinking maybe somehow I’d missed it. I mean, she got sick on Tuesday evening, and I was feeling fine right up to Thursday of the following week. (That’s yesterday.)

Now Dash is upstairs in his bed when he should be at PE or music or something because he had a funny-feeling tummy this morning and a sore throat. Fascinatingly, neither of those are symptoms that Mabel or I had, so this could be a whole new thing that we can all have fun getting too.

And we’re all meant to be going to Delaware (two hours’ drive) this evening for B to run a marathon tomorrow. I’m pretty sure that’s not happening; the question remaining is whether he’s going on his own or I’m going to rain all over his parade by declaring myself not well enough to look after one sick and one healthy kid alone for two days and one night. What I would really like most is for Dash and me to feel miraculously better in about two hours time, but that seems unlikely.

So that’s how our weekend is looking. How about yours?

Galloping

Mabel came out of school on Tuesday looking a bit forlorn. When I asked her what was wrong, I got a garbled explanation whispered directly into my hair about her homework folder and PE and lunchtime and the counsellor, and it took a little prodding to get to the bottom of the story, which seemed to be that Mabel had spent all day worried that she’d done something wrong because she didn’t get her homework folder back as they usually would on a Tuesday morning. Since there was no school for the rest of the week because of Thanksgiving, the teacher was treating it like a Friday and keeping their folders till Monday, but Mabel forgot that. She looked so worried at lunchtime that the counsellor took her out of PE later on to draw a picture, presumably to find out what was troubling her. Things were finally resolved by the end of the day, I think, but she was still unhappy about all this, which seemed very much like a storm in a tiny teacup to me.

All became clear about three hours later when I realised that Whiny McSnugglepants on the sofa was running a fever. She’d been whiny and very much into snuggling for a few days, actually; I think it was sneaking up on us for a while.

And it’s been a doozy, relatively speaking. It’s Friday now and she still has a fever; though she was delightfully cool this morning for the first time since Tuesday evening without medicinal aid. I don’t think either of the kids have run a temperature consistently for that long before, though there was the time Dash had swine flu when his temperature would head up to about 100 every afternoon for two weeks.

I don’t know what her temperature has actually been most of the time; when I’ve taken it once or twice during the day it’s been around 101, so not terribly high. But I’m sure it’s been higher at night, though she’s been going to bed blessedly early and sleeping well enough, though waking up if I don’t stay with her for part of the night. Last night she was restless; I gave her some Motrin and waited for it to work, fretting a bit when it seemed that it wasn’t cooling her down much at all. At one point she turned to face me and put one of her little hands on each of my cheeks, gazing at me pathetically with big glassy eyes. My heartstrings, they were tugged. She seems a lot smaller than her six years at night, and when she’s so quiet and docile like this. Polite, even. Clearly sick.

A little while later in the night I realised she was sweating like crazy, for the first time since she’d had the fever, and I knew it had broken. I felt like Meg in Little Women, sitting beside Beth’s bed. (Not in Good Wives. We won’t take the simile that far at all.) All the tropes about the colour coming back to her cheeks (even though it was dark so I couldn’t see), falling into a deep restful renewing sleep, they all came flooding into my mind and I smiled happily and retreated to my own bed.

This morning all was right with the world and I didn’t call the doctor’s office to make the appointment I’d planned if the fever was still going. Of course, a few hours later she was hot again and shivering under three blankets on the sofa, and I called the number to find that they’d only been open for emergencies between 9 and 10 this morning. (It being the Friday after Thanksgiving, which makes it basically St Stephen’s Day in Irish terms, if you’re wondering why that would be.) But I called their answering service and a doctor called me back (I love that about our pediatrician’s office) and said that it sounded like things were going in the right direction and not to bring her to urgent care just yet. If her temp peaks at 103 or more tonight, it would be good to go tomorrow, to make sure it’s nothing like strep or pneumonia or another infection, that’s all. I like it that she gave me a concrete number there, not some wishy-washy subjective observation-type thing.

Of course, the bad thing about it being “just” a virus is that we might still all get it. Yay?

Mabel on the sofa doing a jigsaw

Not looking terribly sick right now at all – though she has been wearing those clothes for 24 hours now…

My stance on mythical creatures

It’s Easter Morning and no bunny came to our house. The kids are fine with that. They haven’t really noticed. To be honest, I didn’t really notice. I thought for a good 30 seconds after I woke up to figure out what day of the week it was, and was happy when I decided it was a Sunday. I did not leap out of bed and get busy with baskets and fake grass and eggs of any description.

Not to say that we don’t do Easter things. We went to an egg hunt yesterday. There was a big guy in a bunny suit there, but he wasn’t handing out candy so my kids weren’t really interested in him.

Egg haul

Mabel’s eggs

When I first discovered – and Dash was about five when this happened so you’d think I’d have noticed before – that the Easter Bunny in America was like Santa Claus, an imaginary being who delivered things in the night, I was a bit horrified. Another one? Do we never get to give our kids anything ourselves? And since Easter always comes somewhere between B’s birthday and Dash’s, usually closer to the latter, we really don’t need an extra occasion for overconsumption.

Am I depriving them of a quintessential childhood memory? Will they complain to their therapists that the deep-seated trauma of never getting an Easter basket is at the root of their neuroses? Do I care?

I made a nice dinner for the grown ups last night, with a nice dessert to boot. Rhubarb, first of the season, grants a wish. The children didn’t eat anything, due to ill-timed large bready snacks in the late afternoon. Mabel is going through a phase (let’s charitably say) and the day ended with my carting all the soft toys and all her dolls down to the basement in a huff, because she wouldn’t even try to clean up. She’s been happily playing with Lego all morning.

Dash had a fever on Friday and is now in that “is that a rash?” in-betweeny stage. He might have strep, he might have fifth disease; he might just have a sore throat. We might go on an outing today; we might stay at home. We don’t need any more bunnies.

Tooth of doom

Almost exactly two years ago, Mabel got a filling in a molar. She had just turned three, and it was not a fun experience. The dentist had intended to give her a crown, but she was wriggling and crying so much, in spite of the nitrous oxide, which didn’t seem to be doing anything much, that he left it at a filling.

I had taken her for a checkup as soon as her second set of molars were in, which was only about a month earlier. That seemed like a good time to start the dentist’s visits, and had been what I’d done with her brother, whose teeth have no holes. But I’d noticed a little spot on one of Mabel’s upper teeth, so I wanted to get them checked out. Sure enough, we were sent off to the pediatric dentist for a further look.

Everything had been fine at the two checkups after that filling, and then last spring Mabel took agin the dentist and decided not to open her mouth at all. I didn’t push it. She’s four-and-a-half, I said, because we’ve been through the four-and-a-halfs before, and they’re tough; she’ll be fine when she’s five. We went back a month ago and she was a lot more cooperative. And lo, the dentist could see that there was a new hole in the tooth with the filling.

So we went off to a new pediatric dentist (not that I had anything against the old one, but this one was closer and we had the referral for her) and they took some x-rays and saw that not only did she definitely need a crown, but also a baby root canal. I did ask later why they wouldn’t just pull the whole tooth: as this was a molar that isn’t due to fall out till she’s ten, the dentist felt that for spacing reasons it would be best to leave it in.

Taking x-rays was not a trivial procedure, because Mabel didn’t like the thing in her mouth that they use to x-ray just one area. She said it hurt the roof of her mouth; having a small mouth, I can empathize because I hate that too, but being a grown up I have learned to just do it and get it over with without gagging. She point-blank refused, crying piteously. Finally, they said they could try the all-round x-ray machine, and by bringing it down to the lowest level and finding some phone directories for her to stand on, they got her positioned just right. The dentist said usually this is harder for small children, because they have to stand perfectly still while the machine moves around their head, but I was proud of Mabel for swallowing her tears and standing like a statue so the machine could get a perfect photo of all her teeth, in and out of the gums. It was very cool to see all her adult teeth waiting inside there for the time when they’ll nudge the others out of the way and burst forth.

(Dash’s teeth are bursting forth all over right now. He lost his third this morning, and the adult incisor that’s front and centre is about to come down through the top gum where he’s had a space since he was a baby and knocked out the tooth. He’s going to look odd with one big and one little tooth until the second one comes out, but seeing him with a mouth full of teeth at all will be a new experience for us all.)

I told the dentist about Mabel’s previous experience and how the gas hadn’t seemed to work at all. She said she could give her some oral medication first to make her more relaxed from the outset, which would let her inhale the nitrous better. Then we had to postpone the appointment twice because she was congested with a cold, and we finally got there on Friday morning, the day after Thanksgiving. Yes, when you were all making turkey sandwiches and planning trips to see Frozen, or recovering from your Black Friday early-morning outings, I was pumping my baby full of drugs and watching the dentist drill out pretty much the entirety of her molar.

Again, the first hurdle was the worst, because she didn’t like the taste of the diazepam. After a million tiny sips and some crying and a break to watch tv, I eventually syphoned it up into a syringe and squirted it into her mouth. She swallowed some and spat out some and we called it done. In a few minutes she was amusingly floppy and having difficulty talking. (“I…an..not… [drool]…”)

Then it was into the chair and to be wrapped up in the special hugging blanket (“So I shouldn’t call it a strait jacket then?” I’m not sure they appreciated my humour, but I was pretty sure Mabel wasn’t in a position to notice, and has never heard of a strait jacket anyway) and under the elephant nose that dispenses the gas, and open wide so we can count your teeth…

Little kids must wonder why it takes dentists so very long to count teeth, and why they can never seem to remember from one opening of their mouth to the next exactly how many are in there. I sat by her head to keep the gas thing on (“Does it smell of strawberries? Or is it more like chocolate? Take a big sniff in and see.”) and to make sure no little hands wormed their way out of the huggy blanket in spite of velcro restraints.

After a lot of drilling (sorry, “buzzing”) with the little drill and the big drill, the poor molar was literally just a shell. Then it was scraped out and packed and a shiny crown put on top and boom, done. Mabel got to sit up and be unwrapped and I had to carry her to the car because she was still a bit wobbly on her pins, but we still went straight to Target (which was conveniently just across the parking lot) and got a new doll, because that was definitely a princess-worthy ordeal.

Damn nature, either way

We all know by now that I am not really very Good With Nature. I like it in small bursts away from which I can easily get. I like my concrete and my pavements and my tall buildings, actually. I feel safer on the asphalt. Nature is unpredictable. One misstep and you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere with a gammy ankle.

On Sunday we went Into Nature, not far from home. We saw deer and found geocaches and got fresh air and the weather was delightful and by the time we were done it was too late to go home and make dinner so we had to go out for burgers and chips. (Fries.) (We still say chips. It’s our one victory over our children’s American vocabularies.)

Opening a geocache box in the woods

Well, feck nature, I said the next morning, as I plucked a whole bunch of pin-head-sized ticks off my son’s body, and one slightly bigger one off my own a few hours later. Fecking deer. Sod off, Bambi.

Deer in woods

Dash is always a magnet for wildlife, and he had been wearing shorts too. That evening I was still combing him – almost literally – for ticks when I noticed he seemed to have met a particularly angry swarm of mosquitoes as well. On his lower back.

That’s odd, I thought.

Then he disrobed for his bath and I found more little welts coming up all over his hips, as if he’d rolled around naked in a hornet’s nest. Very odd. Exactly the opposite of where mosqitoes normally get him, on his arms and legs – though he had a few on his neck and ears too.

By Tuesday morning I was having Other Thoughts about the bites. Like that maybe they were not bites, but a rash. A rash I couldn’t blame Nature for, apart from the regular nature that we have to put up with because it is Us because we are not yet cyborgs. (Oh, how I yearn for those cyborg days.)

I really thought he had chicken pox, and sent him to the doctor, who sent him back with a label saying “Probably Not,” since he’s had all his shots and the rash didn’t look quite right for that. Apparently kids can just get a rash as a reaction to a cold virus, and he had brought a cough home from school last week that we have all come down with after him.

This morning I woke up with a few scattered itchies myself. Since I’ve had chicken pox too (yes, the real thing; they don’t vaccinate for it in Ireland), I suppose this means that it’s very unlikely to be it. Which is good, because I sent him back to school this morning. From a distance, you can’t even tell he looks like a disgruntled mosquito took out his rage all over Dash’s backside.

So I suppose Nature’s off the hook for this one. For the moment. But I’ve got my eye on you, Nature. (Picture me doing that two-fingers-to-eyes movement that indicates menacing watching. I’m like Tony Soprano over here.)

Children and father walking in the woods

One of those nights

On Tuesday I symbolically went to Target and did lots of useful things. On Wednesday – I don’t remember, actually, but let’s assume I did more useful things. Yesterday Dash had a day off school so I didn’t get much done with my two hours of free time, and today I think I’m just going to sit down with a book. Useful things can feck off with themselves. Though I may possibly take a moment to push a swiffer around the floor, because I think the dust bunnies are unionizing.

Last night was one of those nights that when you have a baby you think you won’t have any more when you have big kids.

11:00 I go to bed.

12:20 Dash has a coughing fit. I get up to see if there’s anything I can do. I can’t give him a dose of cough medicine because he’s not actually awake. I attempt a ritual laying-on-of-hands (i.e. putting my hand on his back for a few seconds), which was sometimes all it took to relax him enough to stop coughing when he was younger. Doesn’t work. I climb into bed with him, which also sometimes works, though it’s not exactly simple due to his loft bed, and the thought crosses my mind that I may be approaching creepy Love You Forever levels of mothering. It’s  not creepy to get into bed with your seven-year-old, right? To stop them coughing? Oh well. It didn’t work, anyway. Not for ages.

1:00 or thereabouts: I go back to my bed.

… some other time… I get out of bed again, I don’t even remember why, maybe it was Mabel. Maybe it was more coughing.

… And again.

… And again.

All I know is that I returned to my own bed at 1, 2, 3, 5, and 5:30 this morning, with the intervening periods spent sleeping and/or not sleeping in one of my children’s beds. Then my wonderful husband did all the morning stuff and didn’t wake me till 8:30, when I had just enough time to stick my head under the shower, throw on some jeans (jeans! It’s jeans weather! At least before 9am it is), and run Mabel to school.

The other vacation

This is what I wrote last night:

Tomorrow, my vacation begins.

I mean, the one where the kids both go to camp from 8:45 to 3:30 every day for two weeks, and culminating in my three days away at the BlogHer conference in Chicago.

I’m still feeling a little I’ll-believe-it-when-I-see-it about the whole thing, really. Mabel has never been away from me for full days like that, and she’s not the lover of organized activities her brother is, as well as being fairly clingy at the moment, what with the Four And A Half Thing. Camp is meant to be fun, so if she’s really not having fun I’ll see if they can refund me the difference and go with the half day instead. Eight forty-five to noon is still 45 minutes longer than her school day has been all year. It wouldn’t be quite as intoxicatingly freedom-y as no kids all day, but I’d still take it.

———————

This morning began with a moan from D’s bedroom. Since he’s a happy cheery morning person (didn’t get that from me), a moan is never exactly a harbinger of good.

“My tummy hurts. And my forehead feels funny.”

Of course. Of course it does. What else would it do? Sigh. I know he’s not faking because he’s the one who really wants to go to camp. His sister, on the other hand, was fine until about ten minutes before we had to leave the house, when she started telling me how maybe she didn’t really want to go to camp after all and maybe she’d much rather stay at home and how it wasn’t fair that Dash got to be sick so he didn’t have to go.

Oh, the injustice.

———————-

I brought Mabel to camp and made it out the door again alone. She was happy to see a friend from school and – more importantly – a large pink doll house WITH PONIES. She looked a bit wobbly when I left but was holding it together.

Dash is now perfectly fine, after three pieces of toast. He’s been making things out of duct tape and making movies of himself fighting/dancing with my old camera. I am going to bring him down for lunch and the afternoon half of today’s camp, because if I don’t he’ll drive me demented and use up all my computer space with uploaded crap.

Blue boy
Luckily for you, I couldn’t get the movie to upload, so you just get a photo

————————

I brought him to camp. He was immediately hailed by at least two kids in the room, and slotted right in to his group with a grin. I dropped by Mabel’s building without seeing her and inquired of a counsellor how she was doing. She’s fine. Totes fine. (They’re not in the same camp, but are based about a minute away from each other.) I went to Old Navy and Safeway and did some shopping.

It’s awfully quiet around here. I wonder what I’ll do next. When’s pickup time again?

The momentous and the mundane

Oh, dinner, how you tease me with your needing to be made, every single damn night, unless I was organized and made lots the night before, which works well with winter dinners like chilli and lasagne but somehow rarely manages to cut it in the summer, when I have all these leaves and tomatoes and things.

I don’t know what we’re eating, don’t bug me. There’s hours yet to dinner time. Well, one hour, maybe. Dash has a baseball game to which his father will take him, and Mabel and I are on track for an early bedtime, seeing as how yesterday was one of those thankfully-not-common nights when I held her for several hours because she has a phlegmy cough (sorry, were you eating?) and was borderline feverish and I felt she needed to be propped up in bed but couldn’t engineer that unless she was actually on me. Which is not so conducive to me sleeping either. It was like old times with a snurfly newborn. Except she didn’t nurse. Which really is quite lovely and amazing, because it would have been a lot more tedious this time last year (or even a few months ago) when she’d have been latched on all night as well.

And you know, the funny thing is that she seems (seems, I say, not counting any chickens) to be dropping the morning nurse as well, the only one we have left, the one she was so adamant to keep. A few non-standard mornings have distracted her from remembering at the point when she normally would, and it’s possible – just possible – that we will have weaned at four-and-a-half after all. Which is nicely matching her brother’s age of weaning, and let me emphasize this may mean that I will soon be no longer lactating for the first time in seven years. Seven straight years. That’s a long time. For all I know, my boobs might schlurrpp themselves into tiny fried eggs when they figure out what’s going on. Or, more probably into the sort of things I could helpfully roll up before stuffing into a bra. Sigh.

This is not what I was going to say, but is it ever? Stream of consciousness, baby.

Oh, I know.

There are only thirteen and a half days left of school before summer. Hold me.

Four-year-old girl in stripey leggings
Gratuitous photo of Mabel, hiding around the corner the more safely to watch a scary part of The Princess Bride.

World Meningitis Day

April 24th is World Meningitis Day, and I promised to help out a little by putting a few words and links here.

One reason I’m glad my children are rarely very sick, and that I always get a little antsy any time one of them does spike a fever, is that the spectre of meningitis is always there. I don’t even have any close personal experience with it, thankfully, but for some reason I’ve never forgotten the advice about rolling a glass over a rash to see if the spots disappear, and whenever anyone looks like they might have a stiff neck, my hackles rise just a tiny bit.

Maybe I watched too many episodes of ER in my young adulthood, or too many episodes of House in my young parenthood, but these things stuck in my mind. On the other hand, maybe it was knowledge picked up from awareness campaigns like this one, aiming to make parents remember that this horrible, sudden-striking, disease has not gone away.

In Ireland and the UK, the most vulnerable group of people are babies and young children. In the US, the main at-risk group is teenagers, and a vaccine is recommended for all 11-18 year olds. (My pediatrician’s office gives it at 11, with a booster later on.) But even the vaccine does not protect against all forms of meningitis.

No matter where you are in the world, it does no harm to be aware of the symptoms for all age groups, because catching this early can literally mean the difference between life and death.

Symptoms of bacterial meningitis and septicaemia 

  • Fever
  • Very sleepy
  • Confusion
  • Seizures 
  • Non-blanching rash (doesn’t disappear under pressure)  
  • Vomiting  
  • Severe headache  
  • Painfully stiff neck 
  • Sensitivity to light 
Not all the symptoms may be present, and yes, a lot of this might look like the flu, but if you’re worried, please do listen to your spidey-sense and bring your baby or child (or teen) to the emergency room. This really is something that can escalate very quickly.

Ireland has the highest incidence of meningococcal disease (the main cause of bacterial meningitis) in Europe, with over twice the average disease rate. Irish children are currently not protected against all types of meningitis, so it’s important that parents keep watching for the signs and symptoms. 

You can find resources here from the Meningitis Research Foundation (UK) 
Some more information for the United States is here.

 And this is a video for the “Keep Watching Ireland” campaign. 

You can find links to other Irish bloggers participating in this important one-day blog march at the MeetMums site.

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Mabel and I both woke up with big stonking sneezy snurfly colds this morning (and apologies for quoting my own Facebook status there), which have been sneaking up on us for the past few days, what with my very sore throat on Friday night that had miraculously disappeared the next morning (classic symptom for me of something else to come) and her good sleeping for two nights in a row.

Which is why this blog post is brought to you by Sesame Street in the background and I’ve been staring at it for ten minutes without writing anything. And that’s not counting the half hour I spent trying to write it earlier, and the two posts I have in drafts from last night that are not interesting and will not be making it to the gentle eyes of my readers. At least not till I’ve got some amount of mojo back and can fix ’em up.

If you’ve any requests to get me out of my doldrums, let fly. What do you like hearing about most?