Thursday, October 23, 2008

The numbers game

So I haven't posted in a few days, because around this house (and in the ER), we have been playing the numbers game! Grasshopper has now checked TWO milestones off his life list with his first visit to the ER and his first ear infection. Wow, good times!

Apparently the vomiting I mentioned on Saturday morning was primarily due to his fever, which wasn't all that high & appeared to be easily controlled with Tylenol. He was at about 101.2, not scary at all, especially since he had been dealing with a cold. I mean, it's his first year of preschool, he's supposed to have colds and fevers. JR & I had the situation completely under control. I mean, we're not newbies, we're experienced parents, the kid has made it to age two with no major mishaps so we've got this thing IN THE BAG!

Fast forward to Sunday afternoon: Grasshopper is whimpering & whining non-stop, the Tylenol does not seem to be having any effect on the fever and JR & I are starting to think (God, the hubris!) that perhaps this is not something we've handled before after all. For those keeping up with the numbers, we are now at 102.5 & Mommy here is concerned enough to finally call the 24 hour nurse advice line at the local Children's Hospital. They inform me that my child really ought to be seen by a doctor TODAY and not tomorrow at the regular pediatrician. So we attempt to put Grasshopper in the car to head to the ER, but my little fashion plate is having none of it because By Golly he cannot go out in his pajamas! I took this as a sign that he was really not all that sick & changed him into some sweats. We head around the corner to the local Children's Hospital because of course there are no urgent care places for children inside the city. Apparently if you have a child then you MUST live in the suburbs because that's where they put all of the urgent care centers.

We arrive at the hospital & I carry a now very hot & whiny boy inside. I have to say that having an ER dedicated to children is a great thing...cartoons on the TVs in the waiting room, festive colors, perky volunteers who offer beverages & coloring books. Only problem is, Grasshopper doesn't want ANY of it. Normally this boy, when confronted with crayons screams, "Colling!" and happily attacks his sheet of paper. This day he snuggled into my chest with his hot little forehead and wailed. This seemed to draw the attention of the triage nurse and we were promptly put into a room & Grasshopper's vital signs were checked. According to the rectal thermometer (much more accurate, dontcha know) he is now at 104.6. At this point I realize that we are losing the numbers game and I don't even know when we started to play. I am afraid that we are losing our child. JR and I stare at each other in horror across our tiny little boy who feels like he's burning alive. What did we miss? How could we have been so stupid? We are the worst parents ever! The nurse leaves the room to get some Motrin & find a doctor and JR and I are left to beat ourselves up and agonize over our little guy. The heart rate & blood oxygen monitor the nurse taped to his finger is attached to a monitor which has a siren that is going off every few seconds & scaring the bejesus out of me. Grasshopper doesn't even seem to notice. This scares me even more. Eventually the nurse comes back in & we ask her about the monitor. She tells us that Grasshopper's heart rate is really high because his fever is really high and sets the threshold at which the siren wails a bit higher. She squirts Motrin into Grasshopper's little mouth and goes looking for a doctor again. One finally comes in, but she is wearing a mask due to the fact that she herself is sick and Grasshopper finds this TERRIFYING. He wants nothing to do with her. The heart rate monitor shows his heart rate is above 170 and starts to shriek at us again. We are still losing this numbers game. The doctor looks in Grasshopper's ears and says, "Well this ear is so infected that the eardrum has started to BLEED." I. am.the.worst.mother.ever. She tells the nurse to get some numbing drops, (cause you know, that's got to hurt) and writes a prescription for antibiotics. "I'm certainly glad you brought him in today!" She tells us, and we smile weakly, wondering when the investigation into our abuse is going to begin. JR and I both asking ourselves how we could have possibly missed this? The numbing drops are applied & the Motrin seems to be taking effect, the heart rate is down into the 140s. The nurse has also brought a Popsicle, oh happy day! Grasshopper enjoys the treat and helps to lower his fever by consuming it. Maybe we have a chance at winning this thing after all! The nurse assures us that we are not bad parents, but we don't really believe her. The heart rate moves to below 100. We start to breathe again. The perky volunteer shows up once more and asks if he would like to color now? NO! is the response. Well, would you perhaps like to play with some cars? Oh the spark returns to my little boy's eyes just that quickly. "Caws?" he asks, looking at me. "Sure baby, if you want some cars you may have them." "CAWS!" and then he is out of my lap and on the floor telling the perky volunteer that one car is "geen" and that the other car goes "vroom vroom."


The tears flow, I shake and heave and wonder if I will ever be the same again. Crisis averted, fever reduced, pain eliminated and I can't stop shaking. I may be good in a pinch, but it's not pretty afterwards.

When Grasshopper's fever moves to below 102, and his heart rate stabilizes at HALF what it was when we got there, we can go home. We won the numbers game for Grasshopper, but I wonder how many years off my life I lost in the process.

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