What do you do when you feel such extreme angst about your child’s health that it sickens your psyche?
By STACEY HATTON
Special to The Star
You write a column about it!
For the past five days, my normally vivacious daughter was struck with an illness that left her melting from a 104-degree temperature and everyone stumped for an answer.
It’s not often that a parent forgets all forms of social etiquette, but when their children are sick, some parents can behave a less flattering manner. I plead the fifth.
As a pediatric nurse, I am no stranger to kids with high fevers. But something happens when the patient is your child — you begin to question your nurse training. This time I needed validation of my decisions, when generally I’m confident in my expertise.
On day two of my daughter’s unchanging fever, we took her to the pediatrician’s office to check for an ear or possible strep infection. I was certain she needed an antibiotic and was going to leave with one.
After the nurse drew blood and my daughter issued bloodcurdling screams, the tests showed her illness was viral. Antibiotics weren’t warranted.
“But her fever is 104!” I cried out in concern.
“Yes,” the medical provider said calmly, “but since it’s viral, there’s nothing we can do other than let the virus ride itself out.”
You ride it out! Her brain is going to melt!
Thankfully, that was just my inner dialog. This time.
So I helped my pale, boiling-hot girl, who had dark circles under her eyes, back to the car. She couldn’t understand why they had to stick her and then send her away without medicine. I couldn’t blame her.
For the next three days, I administered ibuprofen around the clock. Her temperature dropped a few degrees periodically, but the fever shot sky-high as soon as the medicine wore off. We cooled her down with tepid baths and forced her to drink. She wasn’t eating, either, causing her to fade a shadow of my child. It was scaring me.
On the fifth day, due to sleep deprivation, fear and anxiety, Wild Nurse Hatton entered Crazytown and saddled over to Doc’s. She had her care plan loaded and was ready for a fight. She wasn’t leaving without some drugs for The Kid.
In sauntered a different medical provider, giving a smile that was soon challenged. Another thorough exam and culture later, he announced our second visit was a waste of time and money. Not in those words, but that’s how I took it.
“Why can’t we just try an antibiotic? It might work,” I pleaded. “We need drugs!”
There is a point when you hear the crazy words exit your mouth and know you have gone too far. I couldn’t retract that kind of crazy.
I had begged the medical provider for drugs like an addict searching for meth. I was almost as twitchy, too.
He asked if I wanted him to draw more blood, which caused my offspring’s volume to increase until it could be heard in the next county. It also produced a head-to-toe rash, which the provider described as an indicator the virus had almost run its full course.
Then my sweet girl yelled at me like Regan in the Exorcist, “You promised there wouldn’t be needles today, Mama!” Thankfully, there wasn’t any head spinning.
“I’ll send in the nurse to take that last test,” said the provider in “code,” so as not to further upset my daughter.
“No, I promised her no needles today and you’ve proven it’s viral. We’ll take a lollipop and hit the trail.”
So Rashy and Twitchy headed off toward home, lollipops in hand, and relieved to know gentle temperatures were on the horizon.
Stacey Hatton is a former nurse, mother of two and humorist. Her book “Not Your Mother’s Book…on Being a Parent” can be found at www.NurseMommyLaughs.com and bookstores.