Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Coxsackie Family Vacation!


That's the number of times I've had to cancel a trip because a child fell ill the day we were supposed to depart. We don't take a lot of trips, so this is a pretty high percentage of total trips ventured. The most memorable of these trip cancellations was when Primo got appendicitis the night David and I were supposed to leave for Iceland. The car service came to take us to the airport but instead we had it take us to the ER where my son got an organ removed. Fun times.

Of course, all's well that ends well. And the most distressing thing about that cancelled trip was that, had my son grown sick just a few hours later, we'd have been in Iceland when he was taken to the hospital. Thinking about him in pain and me far away, waiting for hours for a flight to take me back to him, fills me with tremendous dread. It's enough to make me never plan a vacation again.

But that's no way to live! So we plan. And we inevitably cancel, too. Because, guess what? Kids get sick all the damn time and very inopportunely, I might add.

Two Fridays ago, we were all set to drive down to North Carolinw for our annual family vacation. We meet David's parents and his sister, with her all kids, and grandmothers and family friends and it's a rollicking good time. Sand and surf and sweet tea. We look forward to it all year. The vacation can never come quick enough.

We were all packed. Swim diapers and thermometers and reading material and sunblock and snorkel masks and everything you could possibly need was organized into suitcases and the suitcases were zipped up. Sandwiches were made for the ride down and wrapped in tin foil. Reservations had been confirmed at the hotel in DC where we stay to make the trip a bearable two-day one, instead of an intolerable blur of misery that is concluded in one day.

We were all set. All we had to do was attend the kids' culminating performance at theater camp at 1pm and from there, we'd stick the kids right into the already-packed car and zoom off. But about a half hour before we had to leave to see the performance Terza did something profoundly disturbing.

She fell asleep.

Whenever my kids fall asleep without a fight, I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are sick. It happened when Primo had appendictisu and it was the deciding factor for us to take him to the ER.

"He doesn't have fever or vomiting or the other symptoms," I told David. "But he says his stomach hurts. AND HE JUST FELL ASLEEP. At 7pm. Without a struggle."

"Shit," David concurred, "You're right."

So when I looked over and found Terza lying in the middle of the living room carpet, on her stomach, dozing off, I knew. I knew the trip was a goner. I shot David a panicked look and then he knew too.

But we deluded ourselves because sometimes life requires a little delusion.

"It's not THAT weird," I reasoned. "I mean, it's nap time and so she fell asleep. Kids DO that. I've heard they do that."

David nodded. But he didn't looked convinced. Sure, kids do that. Just not our kids.

A half hour later, after slinging the diaper bag over my shoulder and slipping my sunglasses on the top of my head, fully ready to go to the kids' show and then after that, DC, I picked the baby up from where she'd been sleeping on the living room floor. And of course she was blazing hot.

Now, I don't usually call the doctor immediately after the kids first spike a fever because I know they are going to tell me to wait until they've had the fever for three days or until other complications arise. But in this instance, I needed a prognosis, in order to ascertain if we'd be able to leave for NC soon. So I brought Terza into the doctor who took one look at her throat and made an educated guess that I did not want to hear.

"Looks like Coxsackie," she said/ "Everyone has it. It's going around big-time."

I pumped her for details and as soon as I heard them, I regretted it. High fever for up to 3 days? Ulcers all down the throat making eating and drinking very difficult? Blisters forming afterwards on the hand, feet, mouth and BUTT? Oh, and yes, highly contagious.

"But she might NOT have that, right?" I clarified.

"Sure, she might not," the doctor replied. "But she probably does."

Terza is a very charming feverish baby. She gets positively luminescent. She is super chatty, not unlike someone on coke. She talks about a mile a minute and runs to and fro, until suddenly, she'll crash and then she lies on the couch, eyes all glassy, and says stuff like "I love you my darling." And you just want to beat the germs senseless and send them packing. So she did that and we consoled the kids who were positively miserable that our trip was on indefinite hold. You can say, "Think about your poor sister for God's sake!" but, come on, they're kids.

So we watched TV and ate ice cream with chocolate syrup and waited-and-seed. The inevitably of waiting-and-seeing is the number one reason I will never be a doctor. There are many other reasons, but that's top of the list.

And just about twenty four hours after she'd fallen asleep on the floor with a fever, her fever broke. Mercifully. We would have definitely luxuriated in relief had that not been the exact moment that the mouth ulcers began to bother her. Did I say "bother?" Hmmmmn. There must be a more exact word I can use to communicate the effect of the sores on my daughter. "Tormented" gets a bit closer.

Because while Terza is a dreamboat Fever Baby, she is a nightmare Mouth Ulcer Baby. Not that I blame the poor kid. If there was some kind of morphine mouthwash I could safely use on her, I'd have used it. Interestingly, the pharmacy doesn't have Pediatric Percoset Mouthwash over the counter. So we were forced to go it the Old-School-Suffering route.

And, we figured, since we were all already suffering at home, why not take the show on the road? With her fever completely gone, and a diagnosis fully confirmed, we decided to take Coxsackie Baby on a ten hour drive to the beach!

 . . . . Tune in next time for the exciting conclusion of the Coxsackie Family Vacation.