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Tag Archives: sick kids

Stomach Virus – You’re bugging me

There’s no one at our bus stop.

The yellow beast chugs toward the corner, heaving to a stop. Its loud industrial honk blares through the neighborhood three times before the sliding doors pull closed on no one and the machine ambles forward, on to the next street where a pile of children push each other and laugh and fight with delightful pre-school energy, straining their necks for that glimpse of yellow but also hoping never to see it.

The day is brisk and vibrant with shards of sun lighting the way. At the door, I have to shield my eyes from its brightness. I can’t believe how fresh the air feels, how invigorating, how healthy. I suck a deep breath in, letting it center me with its crisp cleanness, hoping it will help prepare me for my day. Greedily, I take another moment and another sublime breath.

My house reeks of stale and sick, sapped of energy and hope, piles of soiled laundry, children crying, husband lying in bed moaning. An alternate world exists outside this house, one full of life, with everyday problems and everyday troubles – Did you finish your homework, Will you stop torturing your brother, Should we have tacos for dinner or chicken cutlets. It all seems so bright and entertaining in the throes of misery.

I am one of the infected and so I must shut myself away from the outside world. I must lay on couches and beds, wrapped in blankets shivering, close to the cool, lovely bathroom tile, the swirl of infection billowing in the air.

“Mama?” I hear, but I can barely lift my head to address him.

“Coming,” I muster and lift my body, heavy with the effort of sickness, but weak with emptiness over to where he huddles.

“What can I do for you baby?” I ask, wanting to die, wanting not to catch any more of what he has or to give any bit of what I have.

“Water,” he croaks, “And hugs,”

The water is easy and he takes a halting sip before lying down again spent. In place of hugs, I curl up in his bed around his feet.

Now 36 hours later, my husband is off to work armed with a bottle of Pepto, Tylenol and a Ginger Ale and two out of three of my boys are in school. I am slowly recuperating. I know because I am actually thinking about lunch although not sure if I can actually stomach anything. Also, a shower. When before the idea seemed a fantasy I didn’t even have the energy to want, I am now craving it with every inch of my crawling skin.

My middle son relaxes on the couch complaining of a headache but asking to play a board game, and my cleaning ladies are just finishing up removing all toxicity from our house; the smell of organic chemicals a sonnet to my sniffer.

They leave and I toss the last load of laundry into the machine. Over the last few days, I have successfully washed every fabric in my house. I crack the windows to let the fresh air in, look over to my boy and breathe a little easier. We’ve made it to the other side. “Can I get you something?” I ask, feeling his head which seems slightly warm.

He gives me a wan, funny smile like he’s not sure how he wants to answer and then throws up all over me.


He's feeling much better now.

Feeling much better now.











The boy who cried boo boo

I see the number for the school displayed on my cell, and it immediately triggers a small spike of anxiety.  Quickly I detach my feet from my spin bike and hurry from the class. Once outside the dark, loud room, I answer, and a familiar voice greets me.

“Hi. It’s Nurse Judy.” Of course. I knew it.

“Everything’s all right.” She continues. It’s part of school nurse etiquette to say everything is alright within the first five seconds.

I am both relieved and annoyed. It’s the third time this week that my middle son’s visits to the nurse have elicited a call home.

“I have your son here. He’s complaining of a headache.” The resignation in her voice is second only to my own.

Last week, it was a stomach ache. The week before that his elbow hurt, an old cut on his finger bothered him and his loose tooth was “so annoying”.

He’s always been somewhat sensory, and in kindergarten and first grades often spent lunches at the nurse. He didn’t like all the noise. The smells would make him nauseous. There were random daily visits as well, and I knew that his brain just needed a little break. So it was Nurse Judy or the bathroom.  And although I don’t know how often he makes trips to the bathroom, I won’t be surprised the day Nurse Judy calls recommending a pediatric urologist.

By second grade, Nurse Judy and I were speaking far less often, and I had dreams of a well-adjusted child who might someday eat foods that were a color other than white. As it turns out, my enthusiasm was a bit premature. Now halfway through third grade, it seems we’ve taken some steps backwards and they’ve led right back to Nurse Judy’s office.

What to do, what to do with the boy who cries boo boo?

Sometimes, I worry that I’m quick to push aside his complaints, but then he comes home begging for a play date and asking for macaroni and cheese, and I think, “Aha!” I was right. Still, I’ve all too often watched a kid zoom around like a happy monkey all day only to spend the night with a high fever and vomit. With kids, it can be hard to tell.

Just last week, his frequent nurse visits and random nighttime complaints, often a subtle warning for the next day’s nurse’s call, finally wore away at my mommy worry and guilt, resulting in a day off from school and a visit to the pediatrician.

“What’s wrong?” The doctor asked.

Both my son and I looked at each other, my boy barely repressing his amused smile.

“Well, he has a headache.” I said, secretly trying to inflict some pain by shooting daggers at him.

“But not all the time.” My son interjected happily.

“And a stomachache.”  I said.

“But much less now.” He chimed in again.

“He complained of a sore throat this morning.” I added, feeling stupid.

“Yeah, and sometimes my legs hurt, and my cut on my finger really kills!” He waved his finger dramatically.

Oh no. The doctor looked at us like Mrs. Munchausen and baby Hypochondriac.  “I see.” He said, and I could see that he did.

After a strep test that I made my son get because he hates it but also because someone in his class had strep and I’ve seen it present as a stomachache, headache and sore throat came back negative, we skipped out of there and headed straight to Dunkin Donuts.

His smiling eyes twinkled as he chomped down on his rainbow tie-dyed donut, and I watched him with a mixture of adoration and pride. Yes, I had been conned. He wasn’t physically sick, but mental health is equally important.

Apparently, this was just the medicine my kid needed.

I'm sick.

I’m sick. Really.

I wonder if I’m even going to miss the vomit?

At 2:30am, I opened my eyes with a start. Boy who never sleeps and barely eats, aka my seven year-old, is standing next to my bed. I felt him there, heard his soft breathing. So even though I’m a little unnerved to see him, I’m not surprised.

His soft breathing has a rasp to it. “I don’t feel good.”

My first instinct is annoyance. Stellar parenting, I know, but it’s the middle of the night. I push the thought away. “Oh baby.” I say. His little face looks pained and then it gets that look. You know, the one that makes you immediately look around to see if you’re standing on carpet or near something valuable. I leap from the bed, and practically shove him from my room to the bathroom. We make it just over the threshold before he throws up.

Yes! I’m doing a mental fist pump, ridiculously relieved to have made it at least onto the tiled bathroom, where clean-up is markedly easier. Hmm. Should this not be my first thought? My second is not much better. I’m making a list in my head of the things I won’t be doing since I’ll have him home from school the next day. To redeem myself, I rub his back as he continues puking all over the floor.

I should have seen this coming, in fact, I did.

Earlier that day we were at video game center, or more accurately, the gambling learning center for 5-12 year-old’s. The object of every game is to win tickets. My kids foam at the mouth for tickets. No matter that we spent $30 for four army men, six tootsie rolls, a rubber frog that smells funny and a key chain. At least they’re learning something.

In the middle of the debauchery, my seven year-old son approached. “I want to go home.” He whined.

Uh oh. “Really? Why?”

“I just want to go home.”

I noticed his eyes were a little glassy, but I attributed that to the excitement from all the gambling. Then he sneezed and snot blew out his nose and hung in clean, oblong droplet to his lip.

“Tissue!” I screamed, running for my bag. “Tissue!” My capacity for denial runs deep, people. I saw the truth, but I wasn’t ready to accept it.  I told myself it was just a cold. We headed home, and not because of the stares of horrified gamers, but because we wanted to. So there.

I made breakfast for dinner and the boys had ice cream snowmen cups from Baskin Robbins for dessert. I didn’t take much notice that the boy who never sleeps and barely eats, didn’t eat much. Uh, nothing new there.

I snuggled them all into bed, spending extra time cuddling. I am acutely aware of the passage of time, and allow my sappiness to seep out at night, making me a pawn for their pleas of “Just one more minute!” or “I’m hungry.”

I know that each stage that passes brings me older, more mature children, less needy of their mommy’s attention. Little things change, like, my middle one only asks me to tickle his back for a few moments every few nights, instead of the rigorous tickle back routine I used to affectionately endure. My oldest no longer loves me coming to his sport games. All of a sudden, I make him nervous.

But my baby, my now five year-old baby, is still so full of mommy love that sometimes I’m pushing it away. Uh honey, can we triple hug and kiss again later? Mommy wants to work on an essay. Where is that DS?  I reflect with horror. I am actually taking some baby love for granted, when soon it will (poo poo poo) grow up and leave me cold. No more, I vow. We will hug day and night!

That’s when the vomit hits my foot and startles me back. I want to throw up too, but, instead, I get him some water, strip him down and wash him up. Then, I give him some Tylenol,tuck him back into bed, spending some extra time tickling.

With him settled, I get on my hands and knees and start the fabulously exciting activity of cleaning up. It’s after 3 am, I’ve still got to get all the towels and clothes into the laundry and clean myself up before I get into bed. We’re talking close to 4 am. Is this really something I’m going to miss?

Before I can even get my disgusting bundle down to the laundry, I hear his little voice call to me. “Mama…” I drop the towels and run to his room. Yeah, no question, I am.

(this is a re-enactment photo. no sick child was photographed for the making of this blog)

(This is a re-enactment photo. No sick child was photographed for the making of this blog. He’s good, right?)