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Friday, February 6, 2015

Work in Progress: Timeline of a Sick Kid and a Worried Parent

Fridays posts are about work(s) in progress. Parenting a sick kid is tons of work, and it's hard to gauge progress. But let's try anyway.

Officially, this parent is on day two (though it feels like longer) of the really sick kid bug.This entails:

First: about a week of general irritability, complaints of stomach and headache, often resolved by eating and or playing XBOX, made worse by doing homework or discussing grades.

1:30PM WEDNESDAY: low grade fever, headache, stomachache, runny nose, intermittent cough. Picked up early from school, brought home and put to bed.

2PM: Parent goes on trip to store for medicine and comfort items and sets off fire alarm in unfamiliar section of store. Then gets to the check-out line and realizes that the forgotten cough drops are in the same section of the store where the fire alarm was tripped. Is viewed suspiciously by all employees. Acquires cough drops without further incident and returns home.

3:30PM:Parent experiences singing, non-stop talking, thoughts of “why-did-I-pick-you-up-from-school-early” and conversations including “no, sick-boys-can’t-play-XBOX-and-must-rest.” Plans to return kid to school the next day.

5:30PM: True fever sets in, along with hacking cough. Parent cancels the notion of school. Advil for fever. Benadryl for congestion. Sleep. “Text me if you need anything” because the cell phone is the new bell. And this parent is tons grateful for that technology. (UPDATE: I'm wrong about this timeline, because sleep happened in the bedroom, but then kid felt better and moved to couch where he watched shows with parent(s). Second parent went to bed. First parent gave Advil again at the four hour mark, and around 1AM sent the kid to bed and tried to go to sleep herself.)

Poor Sick Kid (MorgueFile)

3AM: kid coughs himself awake. His fever is back. But he falls asleep again and doesn’t wake enough to take medicine. Unlike her nurse mother, this parent doesn’t fight sleep for medication. Puts new water bottle on his bedside along with an Advil and goes back to bed herself. Tired parent can’t play nursemaid.

8AM: Parent calls school to inform school of still-sick kid. Checks on kid. Goes back to sleep.

12PM THURSDAY: Parent wakes, checks on kid. Eats. Heads to computer to attempt some writing.

1PM: Kid wakes without voice. Cough is a seal bark. Bathroom issues. Fed Cheerios (maybe a handful), pancakes (dry – maybe three bites), and chocolate milk. More Advil and Benadryl.

6PM: More Advil. Mucinex (cut in half with a pill cutter) in lieu of Benadryl. Parents thanking many deities that swallowing pills is something kid does without a fight now.

7PM: Kid has diarrhea. Parenting lesson on hygiene and cleaning up after one’s self when sick ensues. Parent feels terribly guilty -- "You have to teach this now?" -- but knows she can't teach a kid about self-care when he's healthy.

Because he won't stay little forever -- and he's pretty big now. (MorgueFile)
7:30PM: Kid experiencing nausea and vomiting bile. Mucinex and Advil are hard on an empty stomach. Parent praises the kid who: made it to the trash can, asked for help to the bathroom, and cleaned up after himself. Parent experiences more guilt. The helpless-in-this-situation kind of guilt.
Makes one peanut-butter covered waffle for kid. Kid nibbles twice and says it’s undercooked. Parent tries again. Kid nibbles four times and says it hurts his stomach. Parent explains food-and-medicine- on-empty-stomach-syndrome, using a rock dropped on a sidewalk under water versus the same rock dropped on a dry sidewalk as an analogy. Kid nods in understanding. Parent experiences slight happiness.

Sometimes parenting happiness comes from wet rocks. (MorgueFile)

Middle of the second night. Parent doesn’t hear coughing. Parent still can’t sleep out of fear of being needed the moment sleep would come. No school for the kid again. Hoping the parent can sleep tomorrow, too.

This parent has a book to finish. This parent has been sick, and doesn’t want to screw up years of hard work because she was sick and tired and now she’s tired because her son’s sick. Tired people make mistakes. Oftentimes, mistakes take longer to fix. This parent has many mistakes to fix. And other things that need her attention when the current book is done. Things like other books. Many other books. So everyone around her needs to get better and she needs plenty of sleep so she can do those other things. So I can do those other things. 

So I can write a blog post and document these things for other parents whose kids are getting sick. But as parent is adding images and final touches to this blog post, a text comes in. 

4AM FRIDAY: It just says "MOM." Parent runs to the rescue, but it isn't needed. Kid is sitting up asking for water. Parent leaves and returns with water, thermometer, Advil, Mucinex, and pill cutter. No fever. Kid's throat is sore, but otherwise much improved. Doesn't want to eat. Doesn't want more meds on an empty stomach. Cough is better, but still exists. Parent offered kid a chance to move to the couch. Kid did not take parent up on offer, and curled back up to sleep. Definitely still sick. But parent thinks on the mend. 

4:30AM: Kid back in the bathroom. Hoarse shout-out in lieu of text. No vomit, but loose stool. Parent resumes thinking that it's going to be a long night. Can't defecate for kid. Finishes blog post and schedules it for more decent hour. Considers her progress.

Friday's scheduled blog posts were about works in progress. Parenting IS work. Parenting IS progress. And while parents and kids get sick, there are no sick days. You can't call in.

Please overlook any mistakes I made today -- my kid's been sick, you know.

Phyl Campbell is the author of Mother Confessor, The Carley Patrol, and Martha's Chickens and the Pirates. February 4th was her mother's birthday, February 5th was her nephew's birthday, and she really hates it when her kid is sick. She dislikes other things immensely, but is having trouble contemplating those things now. It happens.