That which does not kill you is only a prelude to that which is far more likely to kill you.
That is the sum of the parenting medical knowledge I’ve accumulated in the last two weeks. We thought that Jewel’s almost broken, or maybe dislocated, or maybe just twisted and she can walk it off leg would worry us to death. We studied her limp. We learned that a gallop is just a run with a wicked limp. We developed scoliosis from suddenly carrying her so much.
Then 3B got pneumonia.
It started as sniffles on Veterans Day, and neither that nor Giddyup Hotspurs’ gallop stopped us from taking the kids to the playground by the nature park. 3B and I had an adventure in the great and mysterious woods while Mama took Jewel to the playground to mostly swing. 3B and I spent the better part of an hour being Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, Boba Fett, Darth Vader and sundry other characters before it was time to head home as the sun set.
I’m quite sure that while the time outside was good for all of us, it was great for 3B’s pneumonia.
Our bedroom door swung open at 3something a.m. on Saturday and he announced, “My tummy doesn’t feel good.” I jumped out of bed and he and I hustled into the bathroom. Not much came up that time or the next time he puked, but it still took a lot out of him.
Although those two bouts of nausea Saturday morning were his only two, his fever started to climb and plateaued at 103.5 through the weekend, so we put him on ibuprofen, which brought it down to a much more reasonable…er…101. But it made all the difference. He went from sweaty rag doll who could only stay awake 2-3 hours at a time to regular little boy.
Regular little boy who wouldn’t eat, that is…but at least he wasn’t puking, either.
He was however, starting to develop what seemed like unusual breathing during his naps: shallow and rapid. I checked with the only doctor who still makes house calls–the interwebz–and it seemed that his breathing rate was normal for his age and size, but still, it looked funny to me. Not that I spend a lot of time watching 3B breathe while he sleeps, but enough that I knew this wasn’t normal. Knowing by Sunday that he was bound for the doctor on Monday there was really nothing to do about that except, you know, get up every two hours in the night, sick with worry, and go in to check on him.
By Monday, with his fever stubbornly steady despite a weekend of nothing but rest, fluids and purell, we took him to the doctor, who diagnosed pneumonia and sent us home with a nebulizer, a prescription for an antibiotic and a whole new level of worry.
I had already scheduled to be off on Monday to see the dentist and get my annual physical, which is really on a more Olympic-style biannual schedule than truly annual, but nobody calls it an Olympic physical. Especially not when it comes to me. In fact, my doctor, in addition to the usual indignities, shaved patches of my chest and hooked me up to an EKG, which showed a minor heart murmur. So then I was sent down the hall to have my chest slimed so they could ultrasound my heart.
The good news is that my heart looks to be working fine. The bad news is that they’re concerned enough that I’m going in for a stress test on Monday.
And did I mention the between-the-teeth filling that my dentist put in just before that? She’s got an amazingly soft touch, does great work and is patient with me and my apparent inability to floss, but I can still feel the effects four days later of having my jaw seemingly pierced with a novocain needle and my teeth separated and drilled through. So, on Monday morning, lying on my side, shirt off, chest slimed up, feeling the ultrasound wand bouncing off my chest as my numb face drooled onto the paper sheet, I had only one thought:
OK, two: Is Jewel destined to gallop in circles for the rest of her life?
The good news from all those trips to medical professionals–followed up on Wednesday with return trips to the pediatrician and orthopedist…I’m telling you, our car is now a clinic shuttle bus–is that the antibiotics took effect almost immediately and wiped out 3B’s fever. Although his cough is also mostly gone and his appetite is back, his pneumonia is still with us, according to the guy with the stethoscope, so our worries have eased.
Except that the same guy with the stethoscope said that Jewel likely has 3B’s pneumonia and so to bring her in as soon as she starts wheezing, which appears to have been last night in the bath. You know, after she horked in her crib at 3 a.m. yesterday morning.
Third verse, same as the first, little bit louder, little bit worse.
As I said to begin, the worry that doesn’t kill us is only a prelude.