Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Sick Child

As I am awakened by my daughter at 5:30 a.m., my first agonizing thought is, "I may be beyond the diapers and spills, but I am not beyond the sick child." Ten year old Kelly is ill. She's standing beside my bed looking down on me, waiting for me to fulfill her request for a drink of soda. I can't do it. I can not get up and take that long walk down the stairs, turn on the lights, pour a drink, bring it back up, and then expect to recoup my last half hour of sleep. Instead, I say to Kelly, "Get in."

Her warm, feverish body lies between my husband's and mine for the next half hour. I do not get back to sleep. Instead, my thoughts turn to how this episode is going to change my routine for the day.

I get up at six; my day has begun. The first mommy duty is the taking of the temperature...104.1. Is that correct? "That seems awfully high," I say to Kelly, then immediately go into defense mode with the juice and Motrin. (I know...a lot of you don't give fever reducers, but...well...it takes away the misery.) She plants herself on the family room sofa wrapped in blankets, while I hurry to get her two sisters up, fed, groomed, and out the door to catch that marvelous creation called the yellow bus.

Somewhere in the midst of all of this, my fourth child, nine month old Layla the dog, stands fidgeting at the door. She needs to relieve herself and her human siblings are not dressed, so I have the duty of putting on a coat over my PJs and slipping into my rain boots to head out into the below freezing temperature. I am definitely awake now.

My day consists of the usual household chores that one does when one is stuck in the house, i.e. laundry, dish washing, and bill paying. Add to that, the occasional nursing duties of more temperature taking, giving medicine, pleading with the child to take one more sip or one more spoonful, hugs, and pampering.

Day two...she's still home. No surprise. I decide to take the trip to see the doctor. (Nowadays, it's the thing to do. How did I survive childhood?) Kelly gets the flu test via a swab in her nostril and the strep test via a swab on her throat. "Ugh," she growls. Both come back from the lab negative. "It's a virus," says the doctor. "It'll have to run its course."

I have now given into the fact that I will be in the house indefinitely (during the day and evening while my husband's at work). So...I ignore the sink of dishes and the messy counter tops, search for a soft snack for Kelly, and then pull out the m&m World jigsaw puzzle. Kelly and I clear the kitchen table and begin the attack.

It's afternoon and the sun is shining brightly into the large window adjacent to the table. Kelly asks me, "Mommy, when I'm not here, what do you do all day?" I give her a one minute synopsis which seems to satisfy her. She smiles and says, "I'm sitting here in the sun, with my puzzle, my Jello, my dog, and my mommy - this is the life."

What is your day like when you have a sick child?

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