Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011
The phone rings at noon. Seeing my daycare provider’s name on caller i.d. makes my heart skip a beat.
First thing out of her mouth, “Berit, you should come get Roy right away.”
Heart resumes beating—much faster than usual.
“He ran into the fireplace and cut his head open. He’s going to need stitches.”
Oh, baby boy. I toss “Trucks,” “Goodnight Moon,” his stuffed loon (aka Looney) and sock monkey into his bag and rush out the door. When I arrive, he’s sitting on her lap, looking at a book as she applies a paper towel-covered ice pack to his head. She removes it so I can see the bright gash above his right eyebrow. Uf. She’s right. He’s going to need stitches.
Our fabulous family practice doctor squeezes us in immediately, as he’s done every time Clint’s needed stitches. I’d really been hoping that in this realm, my son would not follow in his father’s footsteps, let alone before the ripe old age of two.
I keep Roy calm during the cleaning and prepping with the books and toys, but then we must get down to business.
“You’re in charge of his hands,” the doctor instructs. As much as I don’t want to be the one holding my baby down as pain is inflicted upon him, I comply. Roy screams as the anesthetic needle goes in once. Twice. I can’t look. “Hug? Hug?” poor guy wails. The doctor OKs a round of hugs before the real work starts. It’s so incredibly hard to pull away from his clingy little limbs.
It takes a very long time to put four stitches in a strong, wiggly toddler. He cries, and I want to, but I focus on keeping my face calm and reassuring—quite a feat in the face of his pleas for hugs and Daddy. Moments after the stitches are complete, his head is on my shoulder, his body limp and sweaty in my arms. He falls asleep on the car ride home, after which I smuggle him up to his crib, where he’s been sleeping ever since.
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Thursday, June 9th, 2011
It started two nights ago. Roy woke up in the middle of the night crying, covered in hives. This has happened a couple of times before, so we know the drill. We plied him with Benedryl and waited for it to do its thing.
Problem was, it didn’t do its thing. In fact, the hives got worse and his face and neck began to swell. Before we got in to see the doctor the following afternoon, the nurse told me that if Roy went down for his nap, I should watch him. “Like, sit in the same room and watch him sleep?” I asked. “Yes. Pull up a chair, read a magazine or something, and just monitor his breath every few minutes,” she said.
I only recently broke my habit of sneaking in to Roy’s bedroom each night to rest my hand on his back to confirm its rhythmic, familiar rise and fall. To have a professional not only endorse this behavior but mandate it scared me.
That afternoon, we saw the doctor, who said that Roy’s probably allergic to the amoxicillin he’s been on for about a week now. Treatment: Stop the amoxicillin. Continue with the Benadryl.
So we did our thing, and the hives certainly did theirs. They got bigger. And puffier. By morning, even his scalp was covered in red splotches he couldn’t help but itch, and his feet were so purple and swollen that the poor boy simply could not stand.
And so: Another trip to the doctor’s office, soon followed by baby’s first emergency room visit, a terrifying and heartbreaking milestone that makes you fight back tears like any other, but for all the worst reasons. Roy was a total trooper, wide-eyed and calm and quite patient with the poking and prodding and bringing in of various medical personnel to marvel at the painful welts covering nearly every square inch of his tiny body.
Both trips confirmed the probable cause but brought a new diagnosis: erythema multiforme. Textbook, apparently. The ER doctor led with, “I have bad news. This will probably get worse before it gets better.” I had a hard time picturing “worse” until he described the possibility of it spreading to his mouth or eyes. We’re to head back to the ER if this happens, or if he spikes a fever, or develops other symptoms. We were sent home with prescriptions for another type of histamine and Prednisone, to hopefully lessen the swelling and itching. They say it’ll soon plateau, and then taper off over a couple of weeks. I’m resisting the urge to Google “erythema multiforme” until the tapering starts.
The good news is, even though he still looks awful, little guy seemed to be feeling better tonight. In fact, on our nightly stroller ride, he got out and happily padded around the park in his slippers. (His feet are still too swollen for shoes.) So I’m desperately hoping for tomorrow to be better than today, and reminding myself, as I did last week, that unhappiness is part of the deal. But I sure could use a little happiness pretty soon here to balance these last couple days out.
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