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!