Even though I bill this blog as a series of “warts and all” snapshots of our life, I often wonder if that is how you perceive it. Sometimes I think the answer is yes – many of you have expressed appreciation for my honesty and laughed with (at?) me over poo stories. But on the other hand, I get the impression from some of your emails and comments that you think I’ve got it all figured out. That I’m an unwavering pillar of strength and determination.
I have my moments just like anyone else. Today I’m going to tell you a little about my Monday, so you’ll see that I’m really just a mom doing the best I can do.
Nathan has been sick for over a week. He got both a shot and a script for an oral antibiotic last Tuesday. I’m no doctor, but that seemed like plenty of medication for a small boy with a sinus infection. He wasn’t eating much, but he was still drinking, so we didn’t worry too much in the beginning. His fever broke on Friday, the third day after starting the antibiotics, so we thought he was turning the corner.
I packed my overnight bag and headed out on Saturday morning with my friend Stephanie.
On Saturday morning, Nathan still wasn’t eating. He’d had the equivalent of two small snacks since Tuesday morning. He was still drinking, though, so we didn’t worry. But then he stopped drinking, too. Mr. Andi called the after hours line for our pediatrician, where a nurse advised him to watch Nathan carefully and take him to urgent care if he still wasn’t drinking the next day.
I was in New Orleans, preparing to run the marathon on Sunday morning. I had picked up a cold of my own beginning on Friday afternoon, and combined with the lack of sleep the previous few nights, I wasn’t feeling too spunky. I needed sleep. I needed to be well. I needed to not be worrying about my baby.
I got up on Sunday morning after another sleepless night.
I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish the marathon, and despite my tendency to never start anything that I can’t finish, I was fully prepared to pull out of the race at the halfway point if it didn’t go well. My attitude at that point was defeatist. Had Stephanie not been with me, I’d have headed for the house. But finish I did, and when I was done I saw a text from Mr. Andi: Nathan was playing with his toys, drinking again, and generally seemed better.
I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Stephanie and I showered, changed, packed our belongings, and headed out. When I arrived home in the late afternoon, Nathan was pale and lethargic. I began to worry again, but decided to wait to see what Monday morning would bring.
Monday started out fine.
He wasn’t playing, but he drank a good bit of juice, ate a carton of Greek yogurt, and expressed interest in pizza, though he only ate a couple of small bites. He was talking and alert, and once again I thought we had turned a corner. We went to take a nap – I was thinking I might grab a few winks with him – but he was very restless. He woke up several times and would climb back onto my lap each time after I had gently laid him on the bed and was certain he was sound asleep.
Around 3:45, he was awake and I needed to start dinner. Sarah Kate was home from school so I carried him into the living room and sat him down next to her. All I had to do was throw a handful of ingredients in a pot and turn it on, but as soon as I walked away from him he came unglued. She tried singing to him, turning on a show he liked, etc., but he just cried until I came back.
While I was trying to calm him down, the phone rang.
I couldn’t answer it and The Girl didn’t because it was just a number with no name or info (we have trained her well). A moment later I heard my cell phone ringing so I tried to get to it but missed the call. It was the doctor’s office and the message she left indicated that they had told Mr. Andi when he called over the weekend to bring him in within 24 hours. She was following up because we had not come in. It was now 3:58.
The anxiety started to set in.
I was sure that wasn’t what Mr. Andi had said, but he wasn’t available, so I couldn’t ask him. I called the doctor’s office back immediately and left a message. By this time, Nathan had calmed down but was still refusing drinks and food.
I studied him carefully, searching for some small sign that he was okay…or that he wasn’t. He just sat quietly, not speaking or moving, watching Sesame Street. I replayed the events of the last week carefully in my mind, and the more I thought about it, the more worried I got. His refusal to eat and the seemingly slow recovery after heavy duty doses of antibiotics troubled me. The nurse didn’t call me back right away, either.
Then a thought came to me: leukemia.
Childhood leukemia is more common in kids with Down syndrome and it’s usually diagnosed between the ages of 2-6. My rational mind told me that he doesn’t have leukemia, but the But-What-If-He-Does voice drowned it out. I don’t rush the kids off to the doctor for every little sniffle, so I didn’t think I was in panic mode. I called and left another voice mail for the nurse.
Just after 5:00, I offered him some juice, and this time he drank it. The vise grip around my heart loosened just a tiny bit. I continued to study him – and desperately send messages to friends. Around 5:30, he livened up a little bit. He didn’t move from where he’d been sitting, but he began jabbering a bit here and there and seemed much more engaged.
I wondered if the crying jag could have been related to his blood sugar.
It made sense. I’m a beast if my blood sugar gets too low, and his had to be wonky since he’d barely eaten anything in a week. The vise loosened just a little bit more. Maybe I was on to something with the blood sugar thing…
And then I realized how crazy I had been just an hour earlier. I’d barely slept at all since last Wednesday, battled a head cold since Friday, and ran a marathon on Sunday. On top of all that, I had eaten very little – on the day after the race when I most needed to refuel. My blood sugar was probably low, as well, and I was definitely exhausted.
By 6:30, I had begun to regain my sanity. Mr. Andi arrived home and I sat down with Sarah Kate to eat dinner. Nathan climbed into the chair next to me, and I offered him a variety of food options: Nutri-Grain bar, Goldfish, Doritos, and a dill pickle. He dove into the Doritos. When he finished them, he gestured to the bag and I gave him more. When he finished those, he didn’t wait for me to refill his plate and grabbed the bag himself. He even made nom-nom noises.
And just like that, he was back.
He added a Pop-Tart to the Doritos already in his gut, drank some more juice, and headed to the living room where he sat on the couch and sang along with Mumford and Sons. After a few minutes, sitting and singing wasn’t enough, and he jumped up and started to dance.
The vise was gone, and a flood of emotions hit me. I had run the gamut from thinking he was getting better to being convinced he had leukemia in the span of a few hours. I read back through some of my messages to my friends and realized that I really did sound like I was cracking up.
This morning, he’s much better. He’s eating pancakes, talking, and gesturing like his old self. He’s thin, weak, and a little bit pale, but otherwise much improved. So what’s the moral of my story?