Saturday, March 26, 2016

we swam across a sea of snot, puke, tears and sticky medicine to arrive here

Yesterday was one of those days that left me wondering How did people ever cross the continent in covered wagons when giving my kid 5 mL of amoxicillin is taking every last ounce of mental and physical energy I have?

How did they do it? They smelled bad and a lot of them died, that's how.
Then I checked myself: Why do you think crossing dangerous territory with very few provisions is an old-timey thing, Cheryl? Hi, Syrian refugees.

And the answer is what it always is: People do what they have to. At this moment, my “have to” isn’t the world’s biggest, or even close to the biggest in my own life, but it’s enough.

Dash was sent home from daycare Tuesday afternoon with a low-grade fever. Even though he’s gotten approximately 400 colds since starting there almost a year ago, this was the first one he got sent home for. (I guess he usually gets sick on weekends and vacations, which is total parenting karma, since I was that kid who had perfect attendance during the school year, only to end up pulling our RV into various Kaisers around the Western U.S. on family trips.)

AK and I kept him home for a couple of days, taking turns going to work. Of course this was the week that I was assigned to work on two government grants with rapidly approaching deadlines, plus we had a solid day and a half of meetings with a fundraising consultant who was super nice but talked about God just a tad much for my taste. (I’m fond of God, but I’m not fond of the assumption that Homeboy is a Catholic or Christian organization where you get extra points for name-checking Jesus. In my interpretation, Love is the center of the universe and religion is a [frequently problematic] byproduct, not the other way around.)

Anyway. Dash seemed to get better until Thursday night, when he woke up crying roughly every hour. Because my self-care tanks when I’m tired and spread too thin, I found myself munching on Trader Joe’s chocolate-covered cacao nibs every time I passed through the kitchen on the way back to bed. They are literally chocolate-covered chocolate.

This is probably the happiest you'll ever see me in a waiting room, which is somewhere between "meh" and "pass me the Klonopin."
By yesterday morning, his fever was 103.7, and when your kid’s temperature starts to sound like a hip-hop station vs. NPR or oldies, it’s time for a trip to urgent care.

I felt the switch inside me flip to crisis mode. Forget the March fitness challenge I’d been shakily trying to do (see cacao nibs). Forget food and water altogether. Forget my plans to clean the house. Forget coffee—I could feel the adrenaline flooding my system, so there was no need for caffeine.

Think about pneumonia. Think about how my mom technically died of pneumonia. Think about that kid in the news who died of pneumonia after her parents tried to cure her at home with vitamins.

Marvel at the body and brain’s ability to triage, even while stepping outside itself and logging some PTSD shit (the way I found myself muttering I’m sorry, I’m sorry, for example). Cry in the shower and then turn it the fuck off because AK doesn’t need this and neither does Dash. Note that I must not really be freaking out too much because I am taking a shower.

Throw an expired bottle of Klonopin in the diaper bag. Not for the kid.

It was fine, he just had an ear infection.

Dash: "Just an ear infection, my ass."
But still. There was the moment between when the nurse clocked his pulse oxygen at 95, murmuring, “That seems really low, and I can hear how hard he’s breathing” and when the doctor came in to tell us his lungs sounded great and the pulse oxygen machine is notoriously unreliable. Which I already kind of knew from the mad Googling I did in that between-time moment.

By the time we got home that afternoon, the crisis had subsided and the slog had set in. There was a twenty-minute period when the following happened:
  • We forced three syringes worth of medicine into Dash’s screaming mouth, which always feels way too rapey for my tastes, and I have to remind myself that in progressive parenting you pick your battles, and this is one where physical health trumps bodily autonomy.
  • We gave Dash milk to soothe him after the medicine, despite half-knowing better, and he puked it all up, all over all of us.
  • We put Dash in the tub, but it was too hot, so he howled and we felt terrible.
  • While we all sat in the tub in our clothes, trying to wash our traumatized baby, the cats howled in the living room. OC had caught his claw in the chair, and Ferdinand had decided to use the occasion as an opportunity to clobber him. I chased them down in my wet jeans.
In a week, this will all be hilarious, I hope.

For now I’m really grateful for antibiotics, indoor plumbing and the jackfruit taco truck around the corner.

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