I hate it when my kids are sick. I absolutely hate it. I feel helpless, and often scared, and incredibly indecisive. I never know if I’m doing the right thing, whether or not things have progressed to the point where I should be calling the doctor — and then, if I decide to call, I worry that I’m being an obnoxious over worrier, and if I decide not to call, I worry that I’m not taking good enough care of my boys.
Two nights ago, Liam suddenly got a very high fever and became completely miserable. It felt like he went from well to sick in an instant. The Ibuprofen we gave him worked, but it took several hours, and it wore off well before he was due for another dose. I didn’t want to torment him overly, so we only took his temperature with a forehead thermometer. I don’t know exactly how warm he got, but our thermometer read 103 (and a bit higher) several times — he was pretty sick. The pattern has continued since then — high fever, miserable boy, medicine that takes an hour or more to kick in and which wears off hours before he can have more, which means he only has about 3 hours of relief from every dose of medication. When he lays down to sleep, he gets congested and can’t breathe, and it seems like he has a sore throat. For the second day in a row, he decided it was time to go to bed about 2 hours earlier than usual, and led us into his room to put him in his crib. He’s one sickly little guy.
After 12 hours of this, I called the doctor, and she says that all of his symptoms are “very consistent with a viral infection that’s going around”, and that we should just keep him hydrated and watch him. He’s doing a great job of drinking lots of water, but he’s awfully uncomfortable. I hate watching him be so unhappy. And I worry, constantly. Is he getting worse? Is his fever too high? Is he really just sick with a virus, or is it something worse? And then, in the few minutes when he’s feeling well, he climbs down off the couch and runs off, and I worry that I’m setting him back by letting him play.
I hold him as often as he wants, I fix him lots of things to drink and play his favorite shows on tv. Benjamin has even offered him one of his own favorite trucks to play with and hold while he’s not feeling well. But I feel woefully ineffectual. I tell him, over and over, that he’ll feel better soon, and that he just needs to rest so that his body can heal.
But in the midst of holding a sick Liam for hours and hours, feeling his fevery body and yearning myself for more than a few hours of consecutive sleep, I am so grateful that this is temporary. I know that when I tell Liam he’ll be better soon that he will be. This will pass, and he’ll be ok. I have no magic powers or potions to speed his recovery, but I know that his body will do the work it takes to feel good again. I don’t know if it will happen while he sleeps tonight, or after he wakes up in the morning, or maybe not even for a few more days, but he’ll get better, and then, in a blink, he’ll be playing and running and climbing and happy again. While we’re living this, it seems so hard, and so grueling, but it’s really just a quick few moments of our lives.