Originally published in the Miami News-Record, on February 8, 2015.
Our son had his wisdom teeth removed last Wednesday. We left our youngest in the capable hands of her older sister while we took the boy to Joplin and back again (sans four teeth). We got home, got him settled in, and I no more than took a deep breath to center myself when here came my baby girl with this pitiful look on her face. “I feel bad. Like, real bad.” Her main complaint was a headache and I figured it was just stress over worrying about her brother (with whom she fights and fusses with almost hourly, yet adores him endlessly) so I told her to take some Tylenol and go lie down. By evening her throat was sore and she was running a low-grade fever. The kid is a strep magnet and I figured that’s what it was. She slept with me that night because she was whiney and pitiful and I’m a sucker when it comes to my kids being sick.
The next morning her fever was over 102 and she was just generally miserable. There were tears. It was awful. So I left the swollen and narcotically medicated boy in the still capable hands of the oldest sister so I could run the girl to urgent care. Typically we get in with little wait, but when we pulled in Kady groaned loudly at the number of cars in the parking lot. She felt so rotten by then and we were both hoping for a quick in and out. I mused that maybe they just had extra staff working. Wishful thinking: the waiting room was full. We found a spot in a corner and she pulled out her iPad and I, a book. I noticed she was pulling her shirt up over her nose and thought, “Aww…she is so thoughtful, she is trying to keep her germs to herself. What a sweet kid.” Then she sent me a text message that said, “The guy next to me stinks like a dirty butt. And my nose is stuffed up! It’s bad, Momma. Can we move please?” The only chairs left were over in the area closest to the toys, the area I like to call Viral Chernobyl. Or The Place We Don’t Sit Because It Usually Smells Like Poop and There Are Boogers On Everything.
This is where met an adorable little tyke with curly hair, a fetching smile, and, as his mother loudly announced, “a funky rash on his hands and feet.” Oh, holy antibiotics, Batman, the little fella was probably incubating a hefty case of hand, foot and mouth and he wanted to be my friend. And he licked everything. in. the. waiting. room. Except my daughter and myself. I gently placed my hand on his forehead when he came at us, tongue at the ready.
Fortunately we were called back soon after we moved, but only for them to swab her, then they sent us back out. Over the last 20 minutes of our wait there were a few times I saw spots because I had held my breath for too long.
When we finally made it to an exam room the nurse told us she was positive for Flu type B. Kady promptly busted into tears. The doctor hugged her. She got a script for the good codeine cough medicine and I think if she would have asked, Dr. A would’ve bought her a new car or at the very least, a puppy. I just bought her a Sonic slush and tater tots. And even though she was a veritable Petri dish of viral cataclysm, I let her sleep with me again that night. I also came perilously close to Vitamin C toxicity before her fever finally left five days later. I’ve also decided my new signature fragrance for the rest of the winter is Purell with a hint of GermX and some Lysol undertones.