19 April 2011

The Feverish Mr. Five

I am sitting on the playroom couch while Five reclines at the other end. He is very ill, and suggested "someone should come keep an eye on me." This morning I worked in the kitchen, but now closer proximity seems in order. My new laptop battery has made me once again cordless, so here we be. He is sipping water through a curly straw, and nibbling ever so lightly on a pretzel. He is the very definition of wan.

As you have gathered from his name, Five is the last of the line. Previous to his arrival, I had already encountered, endured, and developed immunity to every mundane childhood illness known in these parts. It takes a lot to get me to go to the pediatrician.  Along the way, I learned to wait at least three days with a fever, or the doctor will automatically declare "it's a virus," and send us on our way. One must really let strep fester, in order to avoid the false negative test, thus necessitating a return visit, and another stick to the back of the throat.

I am also very reluctant to pay the $125.00 emergency room co-pay unless a bone is actually poking through the skin, or one's wrist is bent at a 90 degree angle. I ignored Three's severe sprain for a week, before finally visiting the perky, young pediatrician, who immediately sent us for an x-ray. She looked horrified when I asked the time frame for returning to football practice. I wasn't forcing him to go back; I just wanted a legitimate answer for his coaches. Three has a reputation for exaggerating the extent of his injuries.

Five developed a fever Friday night, it subsided Saturday, and he didn't even vomit until very early Sunday morning. There were a few more incidents throughout the day, including one bout during Sunday family dinner, which everyone in the other room tried admirably to ignore. But as symptoms go, I was unimpressed.

I kept him home this morning, and monitored his decline. He got worse as the day progressed, and I began to flash back to our experience with Two. He is the one who taught us about strep throat. We took him on day two of his fever, and the test proved negative. Then we watched him get more pale and listless with each passing day, until he couldn't even suck on ice pops. Sure enough, this time the test was positive for strep. He never willingly allowed that giant q-tip near him again. I began to fear the same fate for Five.

I made the call, and took Five to the doctor this afternoon. I had to carry him in from the car. Which is difficult, now that he is more than half my size. I deposited him on the exam table, and he very eloquently explained his symptoms to the aforementioned perky, young pediatrician.

Dr.: "Can you tell me what's bothering you?"
Five: "Yes. It started on Friday, when my stomach was hurting and I couldn't go to the nurse. And then I threw up yesterday, and today I'm so weak I can barely move my legs. And I can feel my heart beating a lot."
Dr. "That is an excellent observation, Five. When you have a fever, your heart beats faster. But the medicine should help that. Have you been eating and drinking?"
Five: "Only some saltines or Ritz, and today I sucked on a pretzel. But I've been drinking through a straw."
Dr.: "That's okay, it's probably better if you don't eat. You have to drink, though. You should feel better in two or three days."

What he took away from that conversation was that the doctor said he can't eat, and he won't be better until Wednesday. Always the optimist. But at least, in his mind, she failed him, instead of me. I did my duty, and took him in one full day sooner than I would have, normally. Score one for the neglectful mother!


  1. Oh the poor thing. I hope he's doing better soon.

    It should be noted that every mother here with a child over 4 or 5 does not think you're neglectful, just realistic. But puking and fever? That completely justifies the one-day-early thing.

  2. Anonymous19.4.11

    I love these stories so much Megan, but ya know, I am also glad that those days are (mostly) behind me.

    Neglectful? Oh please, not even close, lol! My son once fell out of our van, because I allowed him to ride with the door open. We were mere steps from our own house, barely even COASTING. Not only was it my fault he fell out, but it was my fault he had to get stitches in his knee, an appointment, to which, I bodily carried him. He was eight, and was just about exactly my size at the time. Obviously he lived.

    (who would totally be hugging Five and making him snacks right now if she were closer)

  3. awww hope he feels better!

    I was easily impressed my first year teaching. If they felt barfy or had a headache, off to the nurse they went. Now I hold their hair while they puke in the trash can and lay a wet paper towel on the back of their neck if they're queasy. Otherwise my answer is inevitably: I'm sorry you feel bad. If you're still sick after you finish your math, you can go to the nurse!

    I was a hypochondriac child who wanted nothing more in life than to stay home with my mom and watch soap operas (which is what I THOUGHT she did all day...) so I could practically fake a fever through force of will. Now I'm hard to convince.

  4. About your Fail [or lack thereof]... He's just to weak to speak of it, but I'm sure he'll have some feedback for you when he regains his strength. ;) Hope he feels better soon.

    Off to the family's sunny vacation land via the big train ride today. We are so excited! [train geeks, we are-- well the boys are, and I am just looking forward to their excitement and the opportunity to sit & read & do nothing else!]

  5. Oh my poor baby. (that would include you too) Is it strep? Tell him if Mom Mom were there she would put cool cloths on his head and cuddle with him on the couch. You I would hug and commend on your Mommy-ing skills. Can't wait for the school year and all its germs to go away. XXXOOO

  6. Poor monkey. I hope his recovery is swift.

  7. The update: Five is asleep on the couch. The doctor examined him yesterday, and determined he does not have strep, unless it's the world's most slowly developing form of it. He also does not have appendicitis, or a urinary tract infection. He has a stomach virus, which is kicking his pale, skinny butt.

    He woke up this morning, and bounded into the room.
    "I feel great!" he said.
    "Go lie down," I responded.
    "No, I don't need to," he replied.
    Thirty minutes later, he was complaining of the worst pain, ever, and asking me to rub his belly with my cold hands. He is still very ill.

    Now, I have to go get Two from school, and press him into boy-sitting, (he will only miss gym. No offense, if you're a gym teacher.)because I have to take Four to the dentist to fill the huge honkin' cavity I ignored, and I cannot possibly take Five off the couch. Fun times, here at Casa de Penii.

  8. Poor Five! I hate a stomach bug like poison. Most of my instincts for comfort when I am ill revolve around food. So when it is a stomach thing, I crave the things that will make me feel worse. When I was younger, I used to crave spicy food when I had an upset stomach. It must have been some weird artifact of growing up in a West Indian home. Spicy meant home cooking to me. I have finally trained myself to want more normal food when I am sick. So that helps a little. I hope Five is back on his feet soon.

  9. Having grown up in the same household as June, I also tend to crave spicy food when my stomach is upset. Apparently, this type of conditioning extends to other cultures. I was once out to lunch with a friend who was of Dominican descent. We were choosing our entrees and she said, "Well, my tummy is a little upset, so I think that I'll have the pasta with chicken in a jalapeno cream sauce." Which made perfect sense to me, the combination of cream and spice sounded very soothing.

    Hope Five improves soon! But don't feed him anything spicy!

  10. Anonymous19.4.11

    Poor Five, being sick is horrible. Hope he gets better soon.

  11. He sounds like an incredibly detail-oriented and articulate seven-year-old. How do you keep up with him, with them all?

    My hats off to you. The only way I could see you being actually neglectful is if you left Five in charge of everyone else and took off with the cabana boy. Even then, I'm sure you'd be justified. ;)

  12. Five amuses me to no end.


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