The Universe will rain down upon you with the fury of stomach bugs for the whole! family! because two puking adults isn't fun enough -- let's get the little girls in on the action, too! Fevers, chills, puking, headaches, feeling as if we'd been beaten with baseball bats. You name it, we had it. I broke so many capillaries in my face that my foundation still couldn't cover them all a week later when I had to teach my night class.
Woe! Woe is us, right?
Wait, this just in. More breaking news! Don't bother feeling bad for yourself when your entire family is sick, because it can always get worse:
Then, don't (do NOT) compose a blog post in your head while driving home (with a migraine) from teaching your night class about how the following week was ever so much worse, because:
I could go into a blow-by-blow recap of the whole stinking week, and I've done that many a times already, but I decided to tell you two things: the scariest part of it all and the (very few) tips I learned for short hospital stays.
The scariest part.
Josephine was never really that sick when Jeremy and I were in the depths of hell. She was feverish and a little slower-moving, and she threw up three times, but the whole thing was pretty much a non-event for her. Then, she started getting better. Jeremy and I did not, so much. Then, suddenly, she was feverish and lethargic again. I read once that you should be concerned if a child appears to get better and then takes a turn for the worse, and Josie was definitely not herself. Her fever didn't get very high and she didn't throw up again, but she ... get this ... sat on the couch. For more than five minutes. All day, in fact. Seeing as five minutes of sitting still was her previous all-time record (when she had a fever of 104), I was concerned.
The next morning, she tried to assure me she wasn't sick (again), and when the nurse called us back, she crawled in and told everyone "Meow! I a cat! Meow!" Everyone was laughing at me, I just knew it. (Yeah, your kid's totally sick. Good one, hypochondriac.) She was being adorable and energetic and not helping my theory that something was really wrong.
When the doctor came in, she said, "Well, I'll admit, we were all laughing out there about how Josie didn't seem sick at all" (SEE!) "but we got the results from her urine sample, and I've never seen more ketones. She shouldn't be able to walk."
And just like that, whoosh, off to the hospital. With Josephine crawling out and pretending she was a kitty, naturally. The whole office was shaking their heads as we left, and I overheard the doctor calling ahead, saying, "She doesn't look or act sick at all, but don't let her fool you. She is SICK."
Then, this was basically repeated with Genevieve three days later. "Are you sure she's sick? She's so smiley and sweet and happy! How can she be sick? Ohhhh ... look at these test results. Well, she's pretty dang sick."
I think every mother who's read What to Expect When Your Expecting or any other similar parenting book has come across the (infuriating) adage that "you will just know when your kid is sick enough to take him/her to the doctor." That always made my stomach eat itself. Will I know? How will I know? Are you actually trusting me to just know, book? Are you?
So, I guess, technically, I did "just know," but in another sense, I didn't. I didn't think I was taking Josephine to the doctor so we could be admitted to the hospital. When I called and told the nurse that Genevieve hadn't eaten for 15 hours and hadn't had a wet diaper in that time, I was still hoping she would give me tips and tell me to keep an eye on her.
On top of that, it appears that my kids are never going to "look sick," and that is going to make things a great deal more difficult. I am going to come off as a hypochondriac helicopter mom. I am going to have to know the right questions to ask, the right tests to demand. I am going to have to be forceful and say things like, "I know she doesn't look sick, but ..." while Josephine cartwheels around the exam room.
This terrifies me. Isn't it hard enough to begin with to be a parent and try to decide when your kid is just a little sick or sick enough to merit medical attention? Why do mine have to show no outward signs? (My mom will tell you it's because I was the exact same way. In elementary school I would go down to the office and ask to rest on the cot for a while, and the secretary would send me away because "any kid who's being polite and smiling isn't sick enough to miss class," then I would go home with a 104-degree temperature and puke for three days. Why couldn't I just rest my head for an hour, huh, Mrs. Reynolds? HUH? But I digress.)
I swore I was working hard on the "not being scared" thing, so I will try, but ... damn.
I did learn a few things you might not already know, so here is my new-found hospital wisdom:
1. ALWAYS eat breakfast before you take your kids to the doctor's office; you might get sent to the hospital and then it might be ten hours before you eat again, and if you're breastfeeding, this means you'll be shaking and about to pass out while trying to take care of your sick kid. Not ideal.
2. If you have time to stop home and grab stuff, GRAB COMFY PANTS AND SOCKS. I let Josephine and Genevieve wear one-piece PJs to their doctor's appointments because they were sickies, and then when they had to put on their hospital gowns, their poor little legs were cold.
3. If your kid needs an IV, ask for a hospital sock to put over the whole shebang -- keeps it in place, they don't have to look at it, it won't catch on anything, much harder to yank out. Brilliant. (thanks, nurse Steve!)
5. Use one of those "personal belongings" bags you'll find stashed in a closet somewhere to toss all the toys that have hit the ground. It helped to keep them separated so I remembered which were off-limits for the rest of the time, and then I could dump them straight into the sink with bleach the second we got home.
If you have any other tips for other parents who might have short hospital stays in their future, please feel free to add them in the comments! I'm no expert on long stays, and that's a whole other can of worms, but if you have tips for that, too, by all means, share away.
There you go, folks. Our sad, sad week. NOT THAT I'M SAYING IT WAS TERRIBLE, UNIVERSE! No, no, that's not me complaining! No need to make me realize it could always be worse!!!
(Whew. That was close.)