Friday, February 10, 2012

What A Day.


The time on the clock read 7:40am.  M is usually up by now, but he had yet to emerge from his room.  His bus would be arriving in just thirty minutes. If he was going to make that bus, we were going to have to hustle. M loves to go to school and for him to sleep this late usually meant one thing:  He was sick. I made my way to his room, hoping this was not the case.

I crept into the darkened room to find M, covers thrown off, curled into a ball on his bed.  Even from across the room, I could hear the gurgle and crackle in M's chest with each breath he took.  M was not going to school.  Not today.

Mr. A, Miss J and myself had all been recipients of the latest cold to go around.  This was evidenced by the cacophony of sneezes and sniffles and wadded up tissues and empty bottles of Nyquil.  We'd experienced the annoyance of the common cold, but for us, it was little more than that:  Annoyance.

But not for M.

M's chest gurgled. He wheezed.  I reached down to touch him and felt the heat radiating off his body.  The thermometer read 102. He looked at me and said, "Mama, make me better."

I am a seasoned mom to a child with special needs who is prone to being hit harder by infection than a typical kid. I knew what to do. I checked his chest for retractions and his throat for tracheal tugging.  None.  This is good as it meant M was moving air without exerting too much effort.  I checked his lips and nail beds.  Pink.  Not blue.  His oxygen levels must be good.  I got a good listen to his breath.  No high-pitched stridor.  Also good; M probably didn't need steroids.

I called the pediatrician and gave him the low down.  He said to treat the fever aggressively and keep M calm to hopefully prevent another seizure.  I was to bring him in that afternoon, unless of course his breathing became labored.

M is whiny and clingy and feels lousy.  He cannot figure out how to get himself comfortable and isn't sure of what he wants or needs. When Miss J arrives home I tell her to get in the car so we could take M to his doctor's appointment.  We pile in the car and drive off.

The doctor examined M.  His lungs were indeed soupy.  Because M has such low muscle tone, he is unable to produce an effective cough to expel the mucus that is sitting in his lungs.  Instead, it sits there, a potential breeding ground for infection.  The pediatrician said I should practice chest thumping exercises on M.  I was to lay M on his side, and with a cupped hand, firmly thump his back and chest to loosen the phlegm in his lungs, making it easier for him to expel. M hates this.

A blood test is done and  M's white count is 3.0.  A normal white count for a child his age is 4.0-10.0.  Anything under 3.5 is considered leukopenic.  M's count meant that he was not producing sufficient white cells needed to fight off infection.  M is vulnerable and is given high doses of antibiotics.

An hour later we were in the car heading home.  I pull into my driveway to find my front door wide open.  My two dogs, gone.  I did not panic because I immediately knew we had not been the victims of a break in.  My head snapped back to look at Miss J who simply said, "Oops.  I guess I forgot to shut the door when I got home."  (Miss J is many wonderful things. Many, many wonderful things.  But she is the most scatter brained person to walk this planet and lately the girl has been leaving any and all doors open:  front door, back door, car door, refrigerator door and even hamster cage door resulting in the hamster being MIA for three days.) I'd had enough of telling this child to shut doors.

I have a good idea of where my dogs might be and I drive to the park.  Sure enough, they are there.  A stranger is playing fetch with them in a wide open green space. Our mild winter and warmer than usual temperatures have led to an early thaw.  The wet green space resembles a swamp.  My dogs are very happy and very muddy.  Without any choice,  I pile the dogs into the car, next to the sick child and the now-crying child. As we make our way home, we are stopped by two neighbors asking me if my dogs got out because they thought they saw them running down the street.  Sigh.

We get inside and as I de-mud the dogs, I give Miss J yet another lecture about paying attention.  I am interrupted by the doorbell.

I peer out the window to see two police cruisers in my driveway and two uniformed officers at my door.  Apparently a concerned neighbor thought my house had been robbed and called the police.  I opened the door, and announced to Miss J, "Oh honey...there is someone here to see you!"  I let her explain the story to the officers.  They are kind to her, but I secretly wish they would have shaken her up a bit more.

I am tired.  I am worn.  I have had it.  I want nothing more than to crawl into my bed and pull the covers over my head.

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