This crazy winter weather can only mean it is a matter of time before your little miracle is beset with the latest plague being spread around their school, daycare, or gathering place of children. When you hear that cough or sniffle, it is akin to that scene in “Christmas Vacation” when the doorbell rings ever more ominously as the camera zooms to the arguing parents waiting outside. You know what’s coming and you know it will suck, yet it is unavoidable.
You've lived it. You've loathed it. And yet, right now, all you have to do is try and survive the misery that is to come.
The threat is approaching – You wake up with plans for the day. Maybe you’ve got a lot going on at work. Maybe you were thinking “today would be a great day to do a couple of things I haven’t had time to do all week.” And then, you hear the coughing, the sniffling and as Patient Zero climbs up on your lap and lays their head on your shoulder (really, is there anything sadder than a sick kid? No.), you feel they have a fever. Your plans are out the window. It’s go time.
Combating the contagion, or the special hell that is the unexpected doctor’s visit—Be it your pediatrician’s office or urgent care, you will wait in a room, most likely with other kids that are spreading their contagions, praying that you can get Patient Zero back to the examining room before they lose their ever-loving mind. Good luck with that.
You try not to think of all the gross things that must have come in contact with that seat they are laying face-down on, or the grubby book or magazine they are holding and hopefully not chewing on. All you hear are coughs, sniffles and, unless you’ve silenced your phone, the pings. If you did silence it and it hasn’t been commandeered yet by your child, there will be the buzzing. Emails, instant messages, voicemails, piling up by the second. “I know you are [at home/at the doctor/unable to do anything other than deal with the sick child demanding every bit of your attention] but I just have a quick question.” Really? And by the way, the “quick question” is normally never quick and/or just one question. Respond once, and that’s it, they’ll never leave you alone. Ping, ping, ping. This working mom thing just isn’t working today.
The worse your child feels, inevitably the longer the doctor will take, stretching you both to your limits. Will your phone ever just stop? Getting into that exam room is only step one, but likely not the end of the interminable wait. As you sit another 20-45 minutes in an even smaller space with more things your kid isn’t supposed to touch, time passes slower than when you’re in the line at the DMV or waiting for your kid to eat her breakfast when you are running late in the morning. Torture.
There aren’t enough games or videos on your tablet or phone, both of which are now probably almost drained, that can compete with blue rubber gloves they aren’t supposed to take (but will) or expensive medical instruments they aren’t supposed to touch but are within easy reach when the child is on the exam table.
The doctor comes in after what feels like years since you've gotten there because inevitably it will be one of the busiest days they’ve had all week. They spend five minutes and whip out a script for antibiotics, or worse, says give them some over the counter medicine for a few days and it will run its course. An hour and then some that you can never get back and you could have just stayed at home. Cue the silent screaming on the inside.
Sniff, cough, ping (and hopefully not puke). Sick days are the worst for you and for them.
The wait to wellness- And so, having survived getting a diagnosis for the cold you can do very little for, it’s time for the hardest part –waiting it out. You may be able to give your child medicine, and maybe they’ll sleep, for a little while, but they’re still kids. They are bored, feeling cruddy, and no one is around to entertain them but you. Lucky, tired, stressed out you. More medicine, more movies, more episodes of shows with catchphrases you can hear in your dreams. More emails to answer and meetings to reschedule, but hey, life happens and things at work take a back seat for a little while. The hours, and maybe a day or two or so will pass, but then…
Sweet relief…for now…-The fever breaks. The sniffles stop. Patient Zero is back to that energetic, crazy kid you couldn’t be happier to see. With any luck, this doesn’t happen on Saturday and you can take them to school, unbury yourself from work and get back to the endless meetings, deadlines, and tasks that take up your work day. Or, sleep, clean your house, whatever you have to do to relax. Either way, you are back. Not really rested and actually more than likely sleep deprived. However, you are back and so are they.
For the moment all is right in the world. That is, until a day or two later when you wake up with sniffles, or a cough to discover that the plague you thought had been vanquished re-emerges…in you. Break out the Thera-Flu and the Lysol. There’s no rest for the weary.