Mystery Illness

Growing up, I never got sick.  I’d get the odd stomach bug or cold, but they were few and far between.   I went to the doctor so infrequently that when I did go, usually for a physical, I’d be weirded out the entire time by the stranger checking me over.  My sister, on the other hand, was the kid that always had strep throat and would occasionally throw in a UTI or some Scarlet Fever to make things interesting.  She knew the doctor, his off days and how his kids were doing in school.  She was the sick kid.  I was the healthy one.

So far, I’ve been lucky enough to have 2 healthy kids.  Amelia has had 2 ear infections and 1 strep throat.  Zaven has, in two years, never gone to the doctor for anything other than a well-baby check.  At times, I think they’re a little bummed that they don’t see more of Doctor Dave.  They’ve certainly had colds and stomach bugs…but nothing that lasted very long or was ever very serious.  And they’ve certainly never had anything that a doctor just flat-out couldn’t identify….

…until now.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, I was vaguely aware that Amelia had crawled into our bed.  I mumbled something that was supposed to sound like “Hey babe.”  In response, I heard a little girl whisper “Mommy, I’m sick.”  I thought that she was just making an excuse to come into our bed and was about to tell her that she didn’t need to make up a story when Jason said “Yeah, she was a little warm last night.”  I felt her back and it was hot.  Not warm…sizzling, burning hot. 

I thought that she might sleep it off and be better when we got up.  Nope.  She refused breakfast and curled up on the couch.  It was Saturday and we had nowhere to be, so I just let her relax.  I finally found a thermometer and her temperature was 101.5.   We stayed pretty mellow for the rest of the day and Amelia seemed to slowly improve.  By mid-afternoon, we were sitting outside painting each others nails.  She wasn’t perfect, but she was on the mend.

Late in the afternoon I started getting ready for dinner out with a friend (no kids, adult conversation, wine.  Woot!).  I wasn’t worried about Amelia because, by this time, she’d gone to do errands with me.  I kissed both kids and went out.

Dinner was phenomenal.

Hours later, as we were waiting for the bill, I looked at my phone….18 missed calls….from Jason….uh-oh.  The cell reception was spotty in this restaurant and for some reason my phone never rang.  I couldn’t quite hear the voicemail and I went outside and called Jason.  When he answered, Jason was steely calm (after 18 calls, it was a bit of a surprise). 

“Hey, I’m sorry for blowing up your phone, but…um…I think Amelia may need to go to the hospital.  She’s really burning up.  It was 103.6 before and now it’s….um….104.3.  And she threw up.”  104.3????  Isn’t 105 when your brain starts boiling?

“Okay…I’ve leaving now.  Are you bringing her to the E.R.?”

“Well, I want you to look at her and see what you think.”   

Doesn’t he know that I was never sick as a child, so I have NO idea about what necessitates a trip to the E.R.?  My only trip to the Emergency Room was when I broke my ankle…and there was no mistaking that…and it wasn’t my choice anyway.  I AM a mom though, so I suppose I DO have superpowers and infinite wisdom.  Okay…fine….

By the time I got home, Amelia’s temperature had dropped to the 103 range.  While I was on the phone with the advice nurse, it was down to 102.  Because the temperature was going in the right direction, the nurse scheduled an appointment for the next morning and gave me a list of things to watch for overnight.

The next morning the doctor at the extented-hours office checked Amelia over.  Moderate fever, good pulse & blood oxygen level, sinuses clear, no ear infection.  When he got to her throat, he thought he had it solved.  “Her tonsils are huge and have puss.  I’ll do a strep culture.  As soon as it comes back, I can write a prescription for antibiotics.”  Great!  Problem solved!

Ten minute later the doctor walked in looked perplexed.  “It’s not Strep.”  He had no idea what it was…maybe a viral infection.  He said that all we could do right now it treat the fever with Tylenol & Motrin and wait for it to take its course.  He told me to call back if she wasn’t better by Wednesday. WEDNESDAY?  THREE DAYS AWAY?  SHE MIGHT HAVE THIS SCARY FEVER FOR THREE MORE DAYS???

On my drive home I realized that this was the first time that I’d ever left a doctor’s office with absolutely no answers.  I don’t take visits to the doctor lightly, so when I go I expect to have some course of action.  This time there was none (beyond Tylenol & Motrin).  I was just supposed to wait it out while my daughter’s temperature was periodically spiking to 104 (a temperature that is scary for ANYONE).  I wanted answers.  I wanted a diagnosis.  I wanted House.

In reality, Amelia was improving by the next day.  With Tylenol, Amelia’s fever never spiked over 101 and by Monday afternoon she was eating, drinking & coloring.  It was just a weird little virus that her body was working hard to fight.  No big deal.  But it made me think…..

….what about those parents who have kids who are REALLY sick with REAL mystery illnesses???  What do they do?  How do they cope?  I can’t even imagine.

I’m sending healthy vibes to all.


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