Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sick Kids

I'd been planning on a productive day Monday.  With one paper down for my upcoming D.Min. season, there's still several hundred pages of reading and prep to do for the next paper.  Between that and errands and laundry, it looked to be a busy one.

But the morning was an unusual swirl of entropy, even by the chaotic standards of a typical Monday.  The little guy was as slow as sludge.  It was grey and cold-drizzly.  The coffeemaker managed to produce about half a cup of black fluid that tasted mostly of burnt rubber before it seized up and died.  Not that I didn't consider drinking it, but the potential for self-poisoning outweighed the morning yearning for coffee.

And the big guy loped into the kitchen, fed himself, got ready, and then announced that he felt off.  Just cold, he said.  Really cold.  His temperature got taken, and it was normal, and so off to school he went.

With the kids away, I snagged some coffee from a local beanery, some for me and da wife.

Then the call came from the school.  First period, he'd gotten the shakes, been excused from class, and was now in the clinic running a fever of around 100-101.  Could someone come pick him up?

Sigh.  Yet another time when having a part-timer in the household has come in handy.  So off to get him I went.

There in the clinic he sat on the disposable paper-covered bed, shaking and a bit bleary eyed.  He was a bit slow to respond, but got himself together.  The whole way home his body shook and his teeth clattered, and he slumped over in the seat.

Once home, I helped him out of the van and he stumbled into bed, where he lay shuddering, eyes bloodshot, clearly hurting.   Taking his temp with our notoriously inaccurate in-ear thermometer, it first hit with a 105.6, which was a bit let's-please-not-have-to-go-to-the-ER.  Then 104, and 104.1, which was a bit more like it, but still raging.   I dumped some ibuprofen into him, and applied a wet cool cloth to his head for a while.  I then paced around for a while, too concerned about his temperature to focus on much else.  A half hour passed, and then an hour, after which I gave him acetaminophen to ladder the antipyretics.  Gotta get that fever down.

I realized, while doing this, that he hadn't been sick like this for at least two years.  Two years ago, he was a kid.  A big kid, but a kid.  Now, though, he stands a few inches taller than me, and is a great solid slab of a lad.  Not quite at his full grown height, but getting there.  He is no longer a child.

Recognizing this, it was different caring for him, and yet the same.  I told him what I was doing and why. I told him what the meds were doing, and why I was so focused on keeping his head cool.  When helping an ill adult, you owe them that.

Yet as he slept, and slept, and his temperature began to normalize, well...the relief felt much the same as when I could just pick him up in my arms.  

And I couldn't help but check his temperature, just once, the way I did when he was tiny, with a father's kiss to a blessedly cooling forehead.