My 2 1/2 year old has been bogged down with a cough the past few days and was sent home from pre-school yesterday for a minor fever (under 100) and a cough that reminds me of the first time I smoked pot and thought I coughed up my appendix only to wonder why the hell anyone would want to partake in such an activity. Mrs Griswold Wanna-Be got the call form school and the teacher gave that classic passive-aggressive note of "you don't have to pick him up, we just thought you should know". On our handy-dandy teacher code decipher ring, we learn that this translates to "if you don't want to be looked at as the sh*tty parent, you should come and get your kid". So she went to pick him and bring him home.
I read website after website to see what I could do for him. I had ordered a vapor bubble bath mixture from Diapers.com, I had made him a honey, lemon and apple juice elixir supposed cure-all (load of crap from some dumb hippie), cool mist humidifier was rolling hard, Vicks Vaporub was thickly applied and children's fever reducer at the ready. If this was Tombstone, I was Doc Holliday, Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan Earp all rolled in to one. I was ready to be this cold's Huckleberry.
Just to cover all my bases I called the triage nurse as well to see if there was anything I could do to ensure my son got a good night sleep. An hour later, when I finally got a call back (aside form simply being there when I call, there is no amount of time that will ever satisfy me when it comes to getting back to me regarding my kids health - if I wait 5 minutes, whether busy or not, you're a D - and that's not a letter grade - in my book). Nothing could be done. We had to make an appointment for the next day, so we did and now we had to get through the night.
When my son woke up form his nap we gave him the vapor bath, all while he was shivering like a leaf and then readied him for bed after shellacking him with the vaporub. Since he no longer likes to sleep with his door closed, the cool mist humidifier seems to have zero effect just pouring out into the hallway, so I decided to sleep in his room with him so he would sleep with the door closed.
At around 1:30 AM he woke up disoriented and talking about going to the playground, even going so far as to try to climb over me and get out of bed. After convincing him it was still nighttime he came back up to his pillow, but not back to sleep. He proceeded to whimper every now and then, hack up a storm, he cried once or twice and kept chattering about being hot or cold. This went on until about 3 AM when he finally fell asleep again and did not make another sound - except for about a dozen lung puncturing coughs - until 11 AM. He woke up with little bursts of his healthy self, but you could still just look at him and see that he was in a bad place. So it was off to the doctor.
Just as a back story, my son is terrified of the doctor. He screams, cries and tries to climb over my shoulder as soon as we enter the exam rooms just for routine visits let alone sick visits. Ironically, he loves to play doctor at home. But today he was okay in the waiting room, nervous but okay. He even walked into the exam room with little to no reaction. I was able to reason with I'm when the nurse asked to take his temperature and get his weight. Then the doctor came in and checked his ears, nose, throat and lungs, he was timid but making it through. I felt like we were turning a corner, developmentally. Then we were told he would need an Albuterol treatment and be looked at one more time. I said fine, how bad could this be. How bad? Unimaginably f*cking terrible.
See, the albuterol treatment is a mask attached to a small compressor gadget. He would need to wear the mask over his face or have me hold it. The nurse turned on the compressor, my son jumped. Screaming was immediate. Streaming tears were not far behind. The uneaten graham cracker he had been holding this entire time was now getting covered in running snot and tears. I asked the nurse for 5 minutes to talk with my son and try to reason with him - after all I thought we were making some head way on his doctor fears. I tried all of my tricks as well as blunt honesty with him, he wasn't having it. I realized now that I was going to have to hold him down and give him the medicine that way. I asked the nurse if I could administer it to him and she was fine with that - I would have been too If I was her.
He covered his mouth with whichever hand I wasn't holding. He rolled over and planted his face on the exam room table. All the while screaming bloody murder. Now as a parent and a competent adult I know that this is for his own good, but there is no way to explain that to him. He's scared out of his mind and he wants out, not later but at this very instant. I then manage to grip both of his elbows behind his back with one hand and try to place the mask on his face with the other hand. He kicks the mask out of my hand and it hits the floor popping the mask off. Now I am irate. I put the mask back together. I man handle him and flip him over on the table face down where I am going to place the mask in front of him and hold his head steady. All the while I am near yelling at him. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most crazy and irate I can get, I am at about a 7. I finally lift him back up, hop up on the exam table, put him in my lap, lock his legs up in my legs, wrap my arm around his body and finally get the mask over his nose and mouth. Strangely enough, he almost instantaneously relaxes, closes his eyes and puts his head down on my arm. Why didn't I think of this position first? Too bad this was all for not.
Yeah...when he kicked the mask out my hand and it came apart on the floor, the watery stuff that came out was apparently the albuterol. The nurse came in and noticed the stuff on the floor and when I told her what happened, she let us know we would need to do this all over again. F*ck my life! So she goes away to get more meds and my son keeps saying "me get down! me go home!" I explain to him that we have to get this medicine in him before we can go anywhere. Now that he is calming down my 5 month old starts screaming. Did I forget to mention I am at the doctor with both kids? Yep. And we have been pushing my little one's feeding by about 45 minutes at this point. Everyone is as happy as a pig in sh*t.
So I make him a bottle and get him set up in his car seat up on the exam table with us. The nurse comes back in and fixes the inhaler contraption, hands me the mask and I turn it on. Now both of my kids are screaming and crying. I have to lock up my 2 1/2 year old again and get the mask on him. He goes back to relaxing on my arm without too much trouble and now I have to feed my 5 month old with my other hand.
I'm reminded of the first time I saw one of our friends feed their twin infants. The kids were stacked one behind the other in two Boppy pillows and our friend had two bottles in hand leaning over the two kids, one arm fully extended to reach the further baby and one shorter to the closer one. I was blown away. As if one of the great mysteries of the world had just been solved before my very eyes. I also knew right then and there that I was thankful for not having twins. Now let's get back to the doctor's office.
We finish the treatment and the doctor comes back in and checks my son's lungs. Apparently no crackly wheezing sounds, which is good because that would indicate that he might have had pneumonia. Not a road I was mentally prepared to go down when I walked into the sick lobby 45 minutes earlier. So he could be treated with an inhaler. Great, now I have to get his face into another mask 3 times a day for the next week? You have to be kidding me. There is no other option? Apparently not.
So after we leave and pick up the prescription, we head home. I explain to my son he has to take medicine when we get home, and of course not having seen what said medicine is he says "okay". Like Lincoln getting tickets to Ford Theatre that fateful night - he had no idea what was coming.
I break out the contraption and even get him to put it in his mouth without the mask. But then he loses it and we are back to square one like at the doctor's office. But now he has wisened up to the holding him technique and is squirming like a worm on a hook, screaming and crying. I immediately lose my cool and put him in his room for a timeout because I am ready to put my head through a wall. Once I have cooled down, I go into his room and try to reason with him again. It takes some pretty serious and stern reasoning, but he finally gives in and sits on my lap, takes his 5 breaths and is all done. He then turns to me and says: "me all done. Thank you dadda. Dadda fix my cough".
And there it is. In those words that I officially feel the worst I have felt all day. I have lost my cool with him twice today in two very immature and overly hostile ways. I've yelled at him, called him a brat and put him in timeout. Then he goes and says very nicely and with a smile "thank you dadda. Dadda fix my cough". As if its been nothing but ice cream and gum drops all day. And that's just another amazing feature about little kids that we (or at least I) as adults have unfortunately lost; the ability to instantly forgive and move on. For all of his illogical and often intolerable fears, all of his whining and all of his inability to grasp simple tasks like taking off his socks - he is a better person than me and it kills me. And I'm not saying this for sympathy, it's the truth, you can't convince me otherwise. Fortunately it is moments like this that make me desperately want to step up my game and be better for both boys, because frankly he deserves it and I need it.
*photo credit. http://discountwt.com/mcknight-poy-sian-inhaler-alternative/
*photo credit. http://discountwt.com/mcknight-poy-sian-inhaler-alternative/