I am sorry I was such a sick kid. I am sorry I got whooping cough at three weeks old. I am sorry my appendix nearly burst at three years old. I am sorry about the whole diabetes diagnosis at nine years old that caused a tumult of ER runs and hospital stays. I am sorry I threw my lunches into the bushes and gave your plants my insulin doses and gorged out on chocolate under the covers of my bed, which no doubt added to those aforementioned sick-induced adventures. I am sorry I got jaundice at 11, and a near concussion at 17. I am sorry your mother’s intuition was forced to work over time for so many years just to ensure I made it through the night.
Never in my 38 years did I imagine the anguish I put you through until now.
It is an anguish all parents go through, I am sure, but one I had yet to truly experience until recently.
On Christmas Eve Little Ring woke up with a cold. He’s had colds before, but this one was a doozy. He was lethargic; his head seemed to be in a thick fog for most of the day. Still, not a huge deal. Just a cold. On New Years Eve, he started puking. He is not a puker; I think he has puked once, maybe twice, prior. He was scared. He started screaming to scare the “fire in his belly” away. That was hard. It was the flu. Every parent has handled the flu. We could handle the flu. Two days later, his spirits were back up, his appetite was regaining steam. We thought we were in the clear. We took him sledding.
I will forever feel guilt for that decision.
Oh he laughed and squealed with glee. Every ride down was better than the previous. We were out for about an hour. I was getting cold. I suggested we head for hot chocolate. His steps up the hill slowed; his body slouched. It was as though he were lugging an elephant up the hill with him. I had seen this before. It was classic Little Ring style. He was tired. He was dramatic. He wanted mama to carry him the rest of the way.
We got to our hot chocolate haunt. He and Big Ring sat down with their mugs, while I talked to my favourite tea lady at the tea counter. He came over to me and declared he wanted to go home. I thought it was exhaustion. He grabbed his head and started crying.
We got home. He laid on the couch, tossing and turning, writhing in pain. He had a fever. His ear was hurting. We gave him baby Advil. I was on hold with the nurses line for over an hour. By the end of the call, his fever had dissipated and he was chewing dried apricots, which seemed to help.
It was just an ear ache; parents deal with ear aches all the time. We were sure it would go away.
Mild fevers came and went for another week, but nothing too extraneous. On Jan. 7, he was nauseous, and feared the red bucket, again screaming to scare the pukes away. The next day he seemed fine. The fevers were on and off, but he generally runs hot. During the day he was eating, energetic, playing, building Lego, fighting superhero crime, cracking perfect Little Ring jokes. But at night, the ear pain continued to present itself.
We gave him baby Advil to make him comfortable. By Monday, we took him to see our bow-tie loving family doc. Dr. Nick looked in his ear, said there was some redness, but nothing overly concerning. He was loathe to prescribe antibiotics, which we were in agreement with, advising that it would likely clear up on its own and to continue prescribing baby Tylenol and Advil for comfort.
I had a long day at school Tuesdaay; I was out of the loft by 6:18 a.m. and didn’t get home until 8:15 p.m. meaning I didn’t see the boy at all. Big Ring texted that Little Ring had swelling around his ear, but wasn’t complaining of pain. He woke up at 10 p.m., crying out, his blanket over his head. His ear hurt. The swelling was significant. Behind his ear, his head was so swollen, his ear was pushing forward as thought it were Spock’s ear. It was red and tender. His lymph nodes were also swollen.
That was it.
Off to the ER we went. The first for the boy.
Nearly three hours later, we had a diagnosis. The infection was in the early stages of attacking the bone. It was mastoiditis. If left untreated, it could be serious. I didn’t know the implications. All I knew is that the doctor, who I think might very well be Royal Columbian’s version of McSteamy (and he knows it!) caused my child to cry out in pain. I know he had to do it. I know they needed to see his pain level. With my fists clenched in my pockets, the nails of my fingers digging into my hands, the feeling of wanting to jump out of my skin, it took every piece of strength I had not to attack.
My eyes shot daggers.
We were prescribed a heavy dose of antibiotics; so heavy even the pharmacist winced. I didn’t ask McSteamy about the side effects, I didn’t ask if there were any other alternatives, I heard “serious implications” and everything stopped. I just wanted my boy better. It wasn’t until I got home that I started questioning the prescription.
It’s taken my control away. It’s taken Little Ring’s control away. Neither of us like losing control.
For the first 20 years of my life, without realizing, I watched as my moms protected me. I watched her advocate for me, press the doctors and other such medical professionals for the utmost best care, and challenge them if they didn’t give it to her standards. I watched as her face never cracked. She was calm. She was patient. She rubbed my back, never showing weakness – not in my presence, nor the doctors’. She was strong. She was fierce. She had an Elizabethan fire in her not to be stoked.
Last night, I wanted to cry.
My moms never cried.
Neither did I.