The cloud of sickness that has been hanging over our home started abruptly a few weeks ago. Charlotte spent the morning playing at a park and gathering maple seeds with me and even though it was barely noon, she wanted to nap.
If nothing else, I am an opportunist. I jumped all over that nap like white on bread.
She napped for several hours that afternoon. When Donald came home, she woke up and helped him prepare dinner. As soon as we were finished, she brushed her teeth and asked for a story and fell back asleep.
The next morning she woke up feverish. By midday she was complaining of a stomachache. She spent most of the day sleeping and vomiting. One minute she would be running a fever, lying listless on the couch, shivering under a pile of blankets. The next minute she would be running around the house like nothing was wrong, coughing but otherwise unaffected. The entire time she resisted eating and drinking.
It went on like this for nearly a week with no noticeable decline or improvement. Nobody else in the family was showing symptoms of any sort, so we thought the most likely explanation was heat exhaustion. Charlotte has always been very sensitive to heat and prone to heat exhaustion.
But then one morning Charlotte woke up with a red swelling behind her ear. “Momma,” she said nuzzling against me. “Please make them stop hammering.”
It was seven o’clock in the morning. I could hear the birds twittering their morning songs outside. I could hear the baby babbling happily on a quilt on a floor. I could hear the dishwasher running in the kitchen. There was no hammering. I called the doctor, made a late morning appointment, and slowly got Charlotte ready.
She had a raging throat and ear infection and mastoiditis. The doctor prescribed antibiotics and ran through a list of symptoms to be on the lookout for, symptoms that could indicate either a brain infection or meningitis. I felt like a Class A idiot for not taking her in sooner. I gave her the first dosage of antibiotics a couple hours later. She immediately fell asleep. The doctor checked in with us twice the following day and once each day for the next week to make sure that Charlotte was responding to the antibiotics. The swelling behind her ear went down. By the time we went in for a follow-up appointment her infections were tamed. The only evidence left behind was scarring along her ear canal and the ordinary consequences of antibiotic usage that we promptly set about addressing.
Before Charlotte’s infections cleared up entirely, the rest of the family came down with some sort of flu bug, a hacking cough, and pink eye. The baby spent three consecutive days only sleeping two or three hours in the night and napping fitfully during the day. The congestion and the sleeplessness were forces to be reckoned with. I coughed so hard I pulled a muscle and hurt my ribs. Then, because I was holding the baby differently to accommodate my tender ribs, I developed two plugged ducts.
It was every bit as awesome as it sounds.
But the days have marched by and we are finally on the mend. One of the children is still dealing with conjunctivitis in one eye and the other child is still a hacking, sputtering disaster…but we’re resuming normal life activities and beginning to imagine a life outside of moping around with fevers and chamomile tea again.
This morning I am taking the children for a neighborhood nature walk. And I am thinking over and over and over again just how lucky we are to have our health the vast majority of the time.