Five Stages of Staying Home with A Sick Child
Stage 1: Denial
Tuesday. Jack mentions that he doesn't feel good. He has a headache and his body hurts. "Drink lots of water," I tell him. Jack's not one for complaining so I take his temperature. The thermometer reveals a low grade fever of 100.1 degrees. "You just need a good night's sleep. I'm sure you'll be fine in the morning."
Stage 2: Enjoyment
Wednesday. There's some pleasure in the unexpected sick day. After a trip to the doctor rules out strep, Jack and I have a little fun. The ibuprofen kicks in and there's a false sense of improvement as his fever temperature drops. We play a few games of Farkle and watch Spongebob Squarepants in the middle of the afternoon. We make study cards for the upcoming 7th grade science test and I learn quite a bit about the 8 biomes of Earth. (Well, I had fun doing that...I make no promises for Jack.)
Stage 3: Worry
Thursday. The virus, or whatever it is, crawls into the upper respiratory area of Jack's torso, giving him relentless coughing fits. He complains that he is cold and wraps himself in several quilts. His fever spikes at 103.5. I call the doctor back, but she still seems convinced that the virus needs to run his course. His room is equipped with the humidifier and I slather vapor rub over his chest. I try opening his windows for fresh air at points, and am wiping down surfaces with disinfectant. His fitful naps are short and his calls for Mommy come often. Sometimes he coughs so much that he gags, bringing up what little food he's eaten. I add laundry to my list of things to do.
Stage 4: Frustration
Friday. There is little change in Jack's health, except I think the cough is getting worse. Last week, when everyone was the picture of rosy health, I agreed to substitute for a teacher at school today. I can't believe Jack still hasn't kicked this thing! Last night I tried, in vain, for an hour to get someone to fill in for me. A sub for the sub. Twenty (no I'm not exaggerating) phone calls later, I give up. Now I am paying a babysitter $15 per hour to stay home with my sick son so I can go to school and substitute for $14 per hour. There is something wrong with this picture.
Stage 5: Exhaustion
Saturday. Did I mention that our dog is upset by coughing? He's also pretty neurotic about wind. So to have a coughing child on a windy night just about put Tatum over the edge. Paul and I took turns getting up to tend to Jack and the dog. At one point Jack's pajamas are soaked through with sweat. In the morning the thermometer confirms my hopeful suspicion-- the fever broke. He is tired, still weak and still coughing. But I know the worst is over. Let the convalescing begin. We're too tired to do anything else.