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Home Sick

July 2004
Home Sick

By Suburban Memsahib

"Mommy, I don't feel so good," she croaked, looking positively listless. "I think I have a fever of 200 or something. Remember when Dr. Lee had to put that stick in my throat? That's what I think I have now." "Do you mean strep," I ask, bringing up the dreaded "S" word. She nodded, summoning the last iota of physical energy she could positively garner before collapsing in a tired heap on the bed again.

Just last evening this same girl was whooping and hollering up and down the stairs with her friend, arguing heatedly with her sister about borrowing a headband and then subsequently misplacing it somewhere, and chatting on the phone for a good thirty minutes about the merits of bagged lunches. Could things really have spiraled so dramatically downward so soon, I wondered?

I didn't want to second guess her this time. The last time I did, I forced her to go to school when she claimed her stomach hurt and then I got a stern call from the school nurse telling me, essentially, that I was sending a sick child to school. My daughter had thrown up violently, three times in half an hour, and could I please pick her up ASAP? I had barely enough time to stock up on Gatorade from the local grocery store before bringing her back home. Who knew?

"Fine, let me see if you have a fever," I told her, hoping that some concrete evidence should definitely tilt things one way or the other. 99.5. "Nope, no fever," I proclaimed. "Isn't that thermometer the kind where you have to add two degrees to the reading?" she asked giving it all she got. "Honey, why don't you just go to school," I said, "if you find that you don't feel so good, then you can always call home and I'll come get you." "But I really am sick, really, really, really. My body hurts, my head hurts, I can't breathe properly," she wailed. "Fine. Fine. You don't want to go, that's fine by me," I said setting her up with a day's supply of water, Gatorade, books, and coloring markers.

For lunch, I fixed her rasam. "Here you go sweetie, the Indian equivalent of chicken soup," I proclaimed. "Can I just have chicken soup instead?" she asked and I decided not to push the issue. After all, she did agree to the Indian "dunk-your-head-in-Vicks-Vaporub-steam" treatment, even if she did not like it one bit.

About two hours later, when school was well under way and she realized there was no way she was being packed off, she slunk downstairs. "Mom, can I ride my sled down the hill, outside?" "I thought you were too tired to even move a muscle," I reminded her. "Yes, I was, but now the Gatorade makes me feel much better." Okay, I sighed but come right back after two times. She did. "Mom, can I watch what's on Channel 2 (PBS)?" Okay, I relented again.

After a day spent "goofing off" she started to look under the weather again come evening. But still, there was no fever, barely creeping to 99. I just couldn't figure this child out. Was she sick or not? Predictably the next morning, she did the "act" for me again. This time, I packed her off to school. When she got off the bus, she looked listless again, so I finally decided it was time to call the doctor.

Dr. Lee took a good look at her. She did not have a fever. But she did have an ear infection and some "junkiness" in her chest. I secretly worried that my heavy hand with the Vicks Vaporub had somehow backfired. "How could that be?" I protested. "Doesn't one get a fever with ear infections?" "No, sometimes all the symptoms are silent. She has it pretty bad," he rubbed it in. Well, her symptoms sure weren't "silent" but her constant ups and downs threw me off I guess. Finally Dr. Lee took me aside and suggested: "I would just bring her in when she is uncomfortable, just to make sure." The score as it stands: Varsha?2 Mom?0.

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