My left eye feels like morning has come too soon and the light is just way too bright for it. My right eye is fine, however. Eye strain? Should I sit facing the other way on this couch on alternate days so each eye is exposed to the vast brightness of outside equally, and the left eye won’t be so exhausted? Perhaps an eye exam. But then, the last time I was there, the doctor cheerfully told me that when you hit 40, your eyes start to get drier or something and you start to need glasses for reading (or typing on the laptop?). I was not as cheered by all this as he seemed to be.
I brought Alex to the Dr yesterday because this cough he’s had is not going away, and he’s congested and snores so loudly the house shakes. Okay, that last part isn’t true. But his voice has started getting all raspy, and his tonsils looked like little moons in his throat, and so I figured we should check it all out.
Our appointment was mid-afternoon, after Bill got home from work, so it was just me and Alex, and Julia stayed home with her father. Alex is fun to hang out with. Plus he’s very sweet and affectionate and cute and my son and my firstborn and an interesting and sensitive little person. He is generous with hugs and I Love You, Mommy, and I am greedily inhaling and absorbing all of that, because I know the day will come when these things will not be dispensed with such abandon.
Anyway, we hung out in the waiting room for a while – Mondays are busy, especially Mondays after school vacation weeks. We watched other bits of families come and go…saw a couple of little babies…he’s kind of obsessed with babies at the moment. He wants me to have another one. I tell him over and over that we want two, we have two, and we’re not planning to go beyond two. I remind him good friends of ours have a baby that he sees on a semi-regular basis. That should be enough. But still. He suggests names for this fictional third child of mine. He has clearly given this a lot of thought. Perhaps we should get him another pet.
Finally we were called into the examining room, I told the nurse what was going on, Alex contributed his five cents’ worth (he is my child – he has more than two cents’ worth of input), she took his temp (normal) and said the doctor would be in shortly. We played "I Spy" and he showed me how he could hoist himself up on the exam table all by himself because he’s a big boy.
The doctor came in – she’s not our regular doctor, but all of the doctors where we take the kids are fabulous, so I don’t mind seeing someone different now and then – and looked in Alex’s ears, listened to him breathe, and peered at his throat. He’s got some congestion in his right lung, and yes, his tonsils ARE big.
She decided she’d test him for strep. His sore throat is gone, and he hadn’t had a fever. But might as well rule it out, since it’s prime time of the year for strep and related adventures. She left the room to get the tube with the giant Q-tips, and when she came back she explained to Alex that she just needed to tap the back of his throat with these things.
"Will they take the red off it?" he asked. I love this age.
Well, I guess anyone reading this has most likely had a strep test. I think I’d rather have a needle in my arm than have giant Q-tips jabbed into my throat. Just for the record.
Alex was sitting up on the exam table, and the doctor tried to hold his tongue down with a tongue depressor so she could poke his throat, but he didn’t like that tongue depressor. Not one little bit. He kept pulling away, or shutting his mouth…lips firmly pressed together, eyes fearful and suspicious. Need a plan B.
Plan B was to have him sit on my lap and have me hold his hands so he couldn’t grab the instruments of torture from her hands. That worked fine, except his head was still free of restraint, and there wasn’t much I could do to keep him from pulling his head back or clamping his teeth down on the oversized popsicle stick and not letting go. The doctor finally had to emphasize that she couldn’t take it out of his mouth until he let go of it.
All this gave me horrid flashbacks to a bright, high-ceilinged office, a huge red high-backed leather chair, a kindly doctor with a big flat wooden paddle that he needed to stick down my throat (it seemed), and the fact that it took my mother and the nurse to hold me in that chair so he could take a look. The perfume of rubbing alcohol filled the air, and I can’t smell it to this day without the urge to gag.
I suggested to Alex’s doctor that maybe without the tongue depressor she’d have better luck. I told him to say "loud" really loudly (* over the weekend he was demonstrating "LOUD" and "soft" and that’s when I happened to get a REALLY good look at his throat). Eventually that worked, and I felt the tap of cotton swab in my own throat when he jerked back from the nice doctor and her giant Q-tips. He looked betrayed and annoyed and kept swallowing, trying to get rid of that poked feeling. I told him a lollipop would help. I told him he deserved two. The doctor said she’d be back in five minutes with the results.
Five minutes later. He has strep. Antibiotics are prescribed. He can’t go back to school til Wednesday.
As we were leaving, the doctor told Alex he could go get his two lollipops, and he told her they weren’t both for him.
"One is for me because I’m sick and I was a good boy, and the other one is for my sister because she has a bloody face!" The doctor looked at me but before I could say anything, Alex launched into a lengthy recap of Julia’s "agony of defeat" moment on Sunday. I tried to condense it, but Alex actually waved a hand at me, stepped IN FRONT of me and told me he could tell it because he was there and I wasn’t. The doctor listened intently to the story and then confirmed that yes, Julia did deserve a lollipop after that.
Julia’s pink elephant has gone missing.
Yesterday we were "doing a big clean up" in the kids’ bedroom, because I am just so sick of the coughing and congestion and dry air and dust and closed windows and germs and all that. A part of me wanted to just set all the toys on fire, as that would be the quickest way to get rid of them and whatever stray germs had colonized in the fake fur. But instead we stripped beds and dusted and cleaned doorknobs and gathered all the stuffed animals into a pile so I can wash them in
vats of boiling bleach water batches over the next couple of days, along with all the sheets and blankets and all that. As we sorted stuffed animlas (I am washing them by size), I put Julia’s elephant on her stripped bed because I just washed it the other day. I didn’t want it mingling with the germy toys. I didn’t think about it again until after dinner, when I remade the beds and the elephant wasn’t on the matterss any more. I thought she’d probably been playing with it while Alex and I were at the doctor’s. But Bill didn’t know where it was. Julia didn’t. And it wasn’t in any of the obvious or usual spots.
Last night Julia woke up several times and after searching around in the dark on her bed, would start whimpering because she couldn’t find her elephant. I’d explain that we would find it the next day, and she would cry, so I’d bring her into our bed til she fell asleep and I fell asleep and then I’d wake up when she started grinding her teeth, so I’d bring her back to her own bed and wait for the next round. Maybe that’s why my left eye is so tired.
As I’ve been typing, the kids have been searching, giant flashlight in Alex’s hands, for this missing pink pachyderm. No luck so far. I have a feeling I’m going to spend my entire day looking for this thing.
And it occurred to me this morning…Julia had a bit of a sore throat last week, AND a low fever. So I am thinking I need to get her in to see the doctor today so she can have her throat swabbed too.
That should go well.
Update: I found the elephant. I started loading the first batch of germy stuffed animals into the washing machine and there it was. I would have SWORN on all sorts of holy publications that I hadn’t put the elephant in there. But clearly I was mistaken. Or Julia stuffed it in there to be helpful. Or I am just losing my sanity.
That last one seems the obvious choice to me.