Friday, December 31, 2004

And He Says He's Had Better Birthdays

Wednesday. A seemingly ordinary day. Kids a bit sniffly, Charles a bit sniffly. Me, so far, so good. Charles has the week off to breathe and play with the kids. I am off to work my strenuous 1/2 day. No frantic Community Clinic in the afternoon, just errands and home again to 4 days of family without the craziness. Gotta say I had been looking forward to just this for what seems like forever. Also Charles's birthday, therefore excuse to pick up big pizzas for dinner. At 9:47, I am struck with the certainty that I am getting good and sick. This dismayed me as I felt fine at 9:46. Oh, well. Only to be expected. Certainly won't be the last time. Four years ago, when I first started doing this clinic, I got sick 14 times between November and July. Heh.

So home I come with pizzas and aches, feeling a modicum of personal pity, but not much, seeking tea and couch, which I found. Sara got up from her nap soon after I got settled, happy to cuddle and watch Blues Clues and talk about noses. Colin got up from a nap, came in, said he was going to use the bathroom, and then went back to bed. Odd, but when he does deign to nap, he does it to extreme. Meanwhile, Charles has taken his sniffles and Emma off to the vet to figure out why she has been scratching herself for the past week.

They get home with doggie antibiotics for the allergic rash she has secondarily infected and we toss the pizzas in the oven. Hm. Where is Colin? Sleeping. Feels a bit warm. Let's get the thermometer.


Both ears. New cover for the thermometer. Checked against my temp. And he looks bad.

Got my attention. Motrin STAT. Call Lilian to be with Sara while we head to the ER, stocked with book, water, juice boxes, Teddy Grahams, Gameboy, and Chapstick. Hey, we all know a visit to the ER is like a camping trip. I refrained on packing the camp stove, only because we don't own one. Plus, I figured if we had to, we could forage for days off the contents of the vending machines, subsiding on orange crackers and red vines. I know how to survive in the hospital environment. If needed, I could even sneak up to the wards and loot their stashes of apple juice and saltines.

Turns out my survival skills weren't needed. We were the only ones at the check-in desk and there was no one in the waiting room. Had I been new to town, I would have fled, as surely that was a sign that not even those dying a bloody death would come in for care. I mean, an empty ER? Even the bad ones are full.

The extremely competent and efficient young woman at the intake desk asks what is wrong and at the information of a temp of 105.5 she signals to the extremely competent and efficient nurse, who bundles Colin and Charles to the closest exam room and start all the data taking. I answer all the questions and fill in the surprisingly few forms at the desk and by the time I am back there 10 minutes after walking in the door, Colin is being seen by the extremely competent and efficient and nice physician's assistant. He listens and asks all the appropriate questions, making sure the reported temp is reliable as by now, the Motrin has kicked in and he is down to 100. And he takes my word for it. Colin is now looking shockingly better, eats one Teddy Graham and is sipping on water. We are relieved that he has no evidence of ear infection, strep, or junk in his lungs. A chest x-ray is done, "just to make sure" given the juicy cough, by an extremely competent and efficient and nice x-ray tech, and is just fine except for an area of possible haziness in both lungs consistent with a viral pneumonitis. Or not. I chat with the extremely competent and efficient ER doc, who, sensing medical training from my verbiage, asks if I am a nurse. I say, "No, a doctor." She apologizes, for some reason, as if being mistaken for a nurse was anything but a compliment. (I wonder if anyone who is a nurse and is initially mistaken for a doctor gets an apology and if so, if they are bemused or offended.) We go over the finer points of the x-ray to pass the time and a few minutes later, the printer spits out the results of the nasal swab: Influenza A - Positive.

We decide to put both Colin and Sara on the Tamiflu and some antibiotic drops for the raging eye infection that he has developed, as well. (Charles, Lilian, and I don't need it as all of us have had our flu shots.) Done, including check-out, in an hour or less.

Off to the pharmacy, that we are told by the ER nurse is open, sadly to find that they don't have any of the Tamiflu in and can either get it tomorrow or call to the hospital pharmacy and see if they have it. Which they do. Back to the hospital, but it is hard to be anything but grateful. Prescription filled and home again. Then things turn grim.

As we were flying out the door, literally, we find Emma barfing in the study. Bleh. Gratefully, I accept Lilian's offer to clean it up and we hit the road. We get home to clean the dog mess out of the carpet with the steam cleaner, give Sara her 1st dose of medicine, dose Colin, and send Sara off to bed. We keep Colin up (now about 10:00) so we can give him a dose of Motrin and something for his congestion (plus he had the 6 hour nap) and get something food-like in his stomach. After much battling, we get the prescription meds in stomach and eyes. He eats chips and cookies and drinks milk (not sweating the nutrition here) and looks so much better. He takes the Motrin with protest. He fights the chewable decongestant. He says it will make him throw up. He does, instantly, all over the couch. We clean it up and have the useless dialogue about talking yourself into vomiting. But he needs the meds. We let him calm down and re-dose him. He barfs it up within seconds. On his bedroom carpet. We ask him if he thinks he can swallow the pill. He does so like a champ. And sleeps. Apparently, I have passed on the pukey-gene to him. As a kid, I could hurl at the drop of a hat. Once more, my folks have their revenge.

At this point, at about midnight, Charles sums it up: "Well, I've had 41 better birthdays."

Yes, I suppose he has, but it could have been so much worse.

Colin is doing so much better. His cough is drier and his fevers are dropping. He is actually eating, always a sure sign he is on the mend. Sara's tiny fevers are gone and her cough is fleeing. She is her usual bouncy self. Emma puked once again the next morning (outside) but is now better and keeps her antibiotics down. Charles is feeling better and has started exercising again (takes a lot to make him forgo his work-outs) and I am no longer achy, just phlegmy. So, 5/5 better. A sedate New Year's Eve we will have, but that is par for the course.

A Happy New Year to all of you, too.



Blogger The Lioness said...

I love your life. (I'm serious, you're a lovely writer. Love the glimpses into it.)

(Influenza A: Orthomyxoviridae, segmented, -, linear RNA, enveloped, cytoplasmatic assembly. NOW GUESS: what subject am I boning up on?)

5:55 PM  
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