Every day starts out just another day. Upon waking you never think today will be the day your lover leaves you, your dog dies, your mother gets diagnosed with cancer, or your boss will hand you the pink slip. Sure, you might have an intuition or inkling. You can assume or plan ahead, and of course hindsight is always 20/20. But let’s face it, we have little control over the universe. Then add to the mix times that we slip off a stair and end up in a cast for four months, or nearly slice a thumb off making Chicken Tetrazzini. There’s just no planning for dumb luck. Regardless if the happenings of the day are big or small – we never know for sure what’s going to happen until it actually happens – and even then, fate can take a turn to prove us stone cold wrong.
A few weeks ago, my son complained of sore ribs on his left side. It’s no wonder really – the backpacks they carry weigh as much as they do. Between math books and metal water bottles filled to the rim, between indoor shoes and other odd stuff they cram in there – the backpacks render them turtled. They aren’t accustomed to traveling around with a house on their back like our slow-moving amphibian friends, but they’ve been burdened with this kind of baggage since junior kindergarten. So I could only assume as he lumbered off the bus and trudged up the 400 foot driveway, he wrenched his back a bit and wound up with a sore side. After taking it easy over the weekend though, he still didn’t get any better.
I thought he was milking it just to get Monday off school –which in my defence – is something he tries to do quite often. If he can get a day to hang out at home, go on a family day trip, or even sit around on the computer all day – he’s up for it. So when I sent him back to school Monday morning, I gave him a pep talk and an Advil and sent him on his way. Same deal Tuesday. That day was a class trip – we went to the Barrie Film Festival to see “Being Kind” a documentary about bullying (that’s a whole other blog post). By the time the film was done, his Advil had worn off and Sam still wasn’t right – we needed to make the trip into the doctor to check on this rib pain situation.
Of course because I thought the doctor would confirm it was a pulled muscle and just tell him to take it easy, I took Sam out to lunch first (Mucho Burrito – his favourite – but of which he only ate a quarter of), then out to buy his Halloween costume (Harry Potter – which, by the way – he totally looks like with those little glasses on). We got into the doctor’s office and he did his stuff: listened, poked, prodded, pondered and x-rayed, then decided Sam had pneumonia.
Pneumonia? But – he wasn’t sick. Sure he wasn’t eating much, was a bit more tired, had pain in his back and repeatedly tried to get out of school, but….damn it…he was sick. Cue the mother of the year award.
So Sam stayed home from school the rest of the week, took his antibiotics, and rested a lot. He didn’t eat, and hardly drank other than what I demanded he get down. Even dad bringing his favourite (Haagen-Dazs rocky road) didn’t do the trick. The biggest tip-off that he was in fact sick was that he had no interest in his I-pod, computer games, music or TV. He did a lot of sleeping and a good share of staring out into space. By Friday I couldn’t keep his temperature managed below 103 even with Tylenol, so I took him back in to the doctor.
I didn’t expect him to say he needed to get over to emergency, and once there – I didn’t expect them to say he was being admitted and being hooked up to oxygen. After more x-rays and ultrasounds I was shocked that they were admitting him for the night and moved him up to the pediatrics ward. Even after he was settled in – oxygen tubs in nose, IV in place for fluids, and hooked up to monitors like a Christmas tree – I still was surprised to hear the doctor say he’d be there for the weekend at the very least, but that I should expect it to run into the next week. Then Sam didn’t get any better. Then we were transferred to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto.
Needless to say, I feel like a total dud of a mom. It’s bad enough that I didn’t see the signs, but – keepin’ it real here – I thought he was faking it in order to get out of school. Thought he was breathing short, rapid little breaths and flaring his nostrils to annoy me a little and convince me that he shouldn’t go back to class. I figured we’d be back to normal once the doctor gave him antibiotics. I guess not.
The x-ray showed a scary, hazy mass over his complete left side – and his oxygen level was really low – which means he couldn’t breathe. Not faking at all…he really couldn’t breathe. They told me it would get worse because he had to rid his body of that congealed crap around his lungs by hacking it up – which is painful and exhausting, but is the only way out. Unless of course they insert a chest tube – which is exactly what Sick Kids did. So, I set up camp on a hard-as-rock couch in his room and spent his wake-time reading aloud to him (his new one – The Son of Neptune). His sleep time I spent looking at his monitors and pouring my guilt out on the page – as I often do – to my loyal readers, who I know will have compassion for my lack of good judgement on this round of mommy-hood. Pnemonia + pleurisy = scary stuff.
Damn, just when I was getting cocky that I ruled as super-mom.
When do the hard parts end? I hear the echo now…N-E-V-E-R –R–R! I’ll blog later this week about our Sick Kids stay. Until then…hugs your kids.