Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hey pollen! Why don't you pick on someone your own size?

It is a perfectly stupendous day in New York City. After months of snow and wind and rain, we have a few weeks of lovely weather, the kind Californians enjoy year-round. All too soon, it will be blisteringly hot and we’ll have to seek shelter indoors from the sweltering summer sun. But for a very brief time, the kids can do what kids should do – run and play and live outdoors.

Except Primo can’t.

Primo basically can’t leave the house because of his allergies.


I’m sure there are a million and one ways in which pollen is essential not only to flowers and bees but our whole ecosystem but right now I flippin’ hate pollen. It has laid my babydoll low.

On Tues, for the first time ever, I got a call from the school nurse, around lunchtime. Primo had what I like to term “a convulsive coughing fit” and the lunch lady thought he should go down to the nurse. He’s had a bad cough for a few days now, due to his insane congestion from allergies, so I wasn’t too worried although I knew he was feeling miserable. His eyes have been super swollen and itchy and he’s been sneezing madly and then this crazy uncontrollable coughing – kid’s exhausted. The nurse said I should come pick him up, so I did, and he was in great spirits, gleeful, even, telling me every detail of his adventure to the nurse’s office. I was, in fact, wondering why he even needed to leave school, he seemed so perky.

But I did my due diligence and called our pediatrician to see if there was anything I could add to the cocktail of allergy meds to improve things. The doc said there might be something but I had to bring him in to make sure he wasn’t wheezing first which seemed totally unnecessary to me. I mean, I’m always bringing him when he’s got a cough to check his lungs and they are always fine and now that the doc’s office moved far away, it’s a pain to go over there. But I conceded because hey, he’s the doc.

And now I will relay to you the moral to the story:

LISTEN TO YOUR DOCTOR. Well, first, find a doctor you trust. Then listen to him. Don’t presume you know everything because you’ve been to the doc’s office a thousand times with your two kids and you’re fairly well-read about kids health and all. There is shit you don’t know, that doctors do and that’s why we have them.

The thing I didn’t know that the doctor did, was that Primo was totally wheezing – a lot, in fact. So while I thought he had a tickle in his throat causing him to cough madly for a half hour, and was shoving cough drops and honey in his throat and telling him to just relax and stop coughing, the doctor discerned that he was having bronchial spasms.

Or, as Primo explained to the doc, “my convulsing cough.”

“Who taught you that word?” said the doc.


“I thought so. Mommy's a writer and likes to use big words.“

The doc sent us home with a script for a nebulizer and told me to hook Primo up every four hours for the next 24 hours. Which seemed very serious to me. I mean, I know its just wheezing and fairly common, but when you bring your kid in to the doc’s office thinking he’s got a tickle in his throat and you leave with instructions to set your alarm for 1 and 5 am so you can administer a breathing machine, it freaks a mother out.

Thankfully, Primo was there and the last thing on earth I ever want to do is freak him out – which is exceedingly easy to do. So I couldn’t indulge my anxiety and ask the doc all the questions I wanted to about what it all meant and worst-case scenario. I just smiled and said,

“All this stuff is making me W-O-R-R-I-E-D. It seems a little S-C-A-R-Y.”

And he said, “But I’m telling you we are fixing it so you should be reassured – R-E-A-S—“

“Ok, ok,” I said, “I understand.”

So we’ve been clocking some serious time with the nebulizer, the which Primo loves because he pretends it’s his hookah pipe and he’s the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland.

Incredible boy, that son of mine. Only 5 year-old I know who’d make his nebulizer into a hookah.