Friday, September 4, 2009

Sick Visit

We took Kathleen in for a sick visit today. She has Coxackie virus. We were told to give her Tylenol and expect her to have a fever for a couple more days and then a rash. No big deal. They've been seeing a lot of it.

Kathleen has been fussy and clingy for the past few days. I thought maybe it was just the cold she's had lingering. Then yesterday, she was hot. I took her temperature under her arm and it was a little high, so I got a rectal and it was normal. Odd, but I checked it twice. No fever. But I knew she wasn't herself.

She woke up all smiles this morning, but wouldn't eat most of her breakfast or most of her lunch. Brian took her for a walk in the afternoon and noticed she was quite warm again. This time, the underarm thermometer clearly picked up a fever, and the rectal agreed—102.6.

So I called the pediatrician's office, while Brian got our screeching baby dressed. Despite the dread in my stomach, I half expected them to tell me to give her some Tylenol and call back if the fever didn't go down, but the nurse said they better see her. So I gave Kathleen some Tylenol and a bottle and sat and rocked with her hot head on my chest for the hour and a half before we could go.

Maybe I should bring a change of clothes with me.
This is the irrational part of my brain talking. The part of my brain that reminds me that the last time I brought my baby in for a sick visit in September, he just seemed to have a cold. And then I was in an ambulance and then my baby was on a ventilator and then . . .

My rational brain says.
He was really sick. He had just had surgery, had a bad heart, lung problems. It wasn't really the cold.

This part of my brain has let me go through my day for the last week as Kathleen sniffled and coughed and otherwise seemed just fine. But with this sick visit, the irrational tried to take over.

I had been struggling with September already, knowing that the day that was the beginning of the long-drawn out end was approaching, that day when the pediatrician put oxygen on Henry and called an ambulance, thus beginning a three-month hospitalization. That memory has been bubbling around under the surface, and it boiled over today when we carried Kathleen in to see the doctor.

In another world, I would simply be wishing Kathleen would feel better and lamenting that I had to cancel a visit from friend Alexa. No tapas and sangria for me tomorrow.

But here I am in babylost world, where everything looks different. I do hope my baby girl feels better. I am probably more patient as I sit with her feverish body snuggled into me, poor thing, than I would be in that other world. But I am more scared too, because I know what the inside of an ambulance looks like, I know how the PICU sounds, and I know just how quickly things can change from okay to unbelievably not okay. I believe she will be fine, I do, but I can't banish the anxiety.

So tonight, I'll give her Tylenol and sleep with her close and take deep breaths and tell myself she will be okay. In the next few days, I'll try to stay calm as I wait for her fever to clear, her fussiness to pass, my smiley girl to come back. And over the next few months, I'll face those memories again, the ones from September to December 2007. They've started, with a vengeance, today.


  1. Oh Sara, I am thinking of you my friend.

  2. The fear we harbor inside, it is so difficult to reel in.

    Poor little Kathleen, I hope she feels better. Poor mama with her worries. It must be so hard not panicking with each fever or ailment.

    Sending love ((((hugs))))

  3. I have often wondered how losing my first child to illness would affect my feelings on common colds etc with the next. I completely understand, at least as much as I can with not having had another child yet, where your feelings and anxieties are coming from. Your sweet Kathleen is in my thoughts for a speedy recovery from Coxackie, and you are in my thoughts for strength. Thinking of your adorable Henry as well.

  4. Right now I have irrational anxiety for my living son even when he is well - which is to say, I understand, too.

    Thinking of you and Kathleen and hoping she feels better soon.

  5. There is a constant war waged between the irrational and rational sides of my brain in relation to any minor illness. Sometimes it feels like the start of a slippery slope, one that ends in an ICU.

    Thinking of you during this difficult season. Remembering your little Henry.

    I hope that Kathleen feels better and your smiley girl comes back as quickly as can be. xo

  6. Everything does look different in this world. I'm sorry for the extra fear that you have to deal with, and I hope that Kathleen feels much better very soon so that her mama can relax a bit.