IT HAS BEEN A MONTH.
Our boy started feeling lousy and also somehow hurt his wrist. A few days later, his fever was spiking and at the urging of our neighbor and trusted confidant for all things kids, we went to urgent care. We had them both swabbed and sure enough, TWIN STREP THROAT. Twins really do everything together.
Our girl had absolutely no symptoms. Nothing. She kept asking me, "I'm sick? I don't feel sick." She's strong like an ox, that one.
We also had my boy’s wrist x-rayed as he hurt it really badly it seemed, BY PLAYING A DUMB WHACK A MOLE GAME (that we have since burned to the ground) on Friday. The x-rays showed no fracture, so we went on our way to get the four bottles of pink amoxicillin to start on the 10-day regimen we all remember as kids.
I see the subtle way every medical professional asks our boy what happened instead of asking us. And my heart breaks open every time as he explains it because OUCH and he's five and such a big little boy now and also, there are so many kids who get hurt in ways they don't ever deserve by other people. OUCH MY HEART.
Two more days went by with our boy in so much pain I thought, surely a sprained wrist cannot hurt him this much. Is he exaggerating? Is he really in this much pain? It was swollen, but we were doing all the things – ice, elevation, wrapped, ibuprofen for the pain. It was pure misery for 3 days.
My husband and I agreed that we needed to do something else for him, so I took him to the Illinois Bone and Joint Institute at the referral by our Pediatrician, and THE ANGELS SANG. I believe a miracle happened as we walked through those doors. The doctor we met took such great care with our boy, all his fears and tears subsided for those moments in his office. We looked at his x-rays ("THOSE ARE MY BONES, MAMA?") and everything was fine, except he’s a little boy and he bruised his wrist very badly. His growth plates in his little hands were shifted a bit and a cast for a few weeks seemed our best bet to keep him safe and get him healed.
As we sat in the doctor’s office waiting for him to come in, all the hard questions came, “Do you think my veins are broken, mama?” “What is his name?” “Does he have kids?” “Why can’t I have a girl doctor. I want a girl doctor.” “What do you think Bebe is doing right now? Probably having a snack, right?”
The doc let him pick his cast color and immediately wrapped him up safe and sound. It was the first prolonged time in days where the crying stopped and even a smile returned. I’ve never been so happy to see a smile in all my life.
Earlier in the day we had some time to kill between appointments, so I asked if he wanted to go to McDonald's. He hadn’t eaten much real food in days and I would’ve given him anything in the world if it meant he would eat something. HOT CAKES FOR EVERYONE! While there, we encountered two older gentlemen having coffee and one had a bandage on his wrist. Sure enough, we got to chatting and they wanted to hear the whole story of how our boy hurt his wrist. This man had just had surgery on his wrist and felt better about things and wished our boy well telling him to listen to his mama and he’d feel better in no time. The ladies working there started chatting with us and saw how sad he was and gave me all the coffee and then gave him all the happy meal toys. I’m telling you, magic happens at McDonald's.
My boy has never resisted or yelled at me as much as he did when sick and hurt. He’s been in so much pain and I was the easiest target to take it out on. That day we got his cast on, we spent the day together – just he and I – as our Nanny stayed with our girl. He quietly shared his fears and his hopes. He apologized for being so mean to me. He made me cry several times because he is just so damn sweet and conscientious. Friday night - one of the nights he was up the entire night and therefore so were we – he came down in my bed as I was watching the Olympics.
He laid down in bed with me for a while and I was watching skating. After About 30 minutes I say "are you ready to go back in your bed?" and he says, " yes but could you tape this so we can watch it together in the morning?" He likes the figure skating!!! Oh my heart.
I told him I had one wish and that was that he would feel better. Like himself. When we were driving home from getting his cast on, from the back seat he said, “I guess you got your wish, huh mama.” And the tears started again. It’s hard to drive when you’re crying.
Clutching his stuffed kitty through every hard moment, he would scream in pain and just want some relief. I had my moments of wanting to scream at him to STOP CRYING and throw him out the door. I did. I am not proud. But after 4 straight days of it, it’s a lot to bear. But we bear it.
We bear it because we are their people and they need us to make them feel better. It got me thinking about who we reach to when we are in so much pain we want to cry for 4 days straight. Of course, we don’t have the luxury of screaming and crying for 4 days straight. Or do we?
I thought about how my husband and I have such a changed relationship than 10 years ago when we got back together. We don’t have romance in the ways advertising would indicate we are supposed to, but we have dependability and accountability and shoulders that are always there for each other. When your kids are sick or hurt, you really learn who you need and who you rely on. I have asked for help several times over the last month and I’m not one to ask for help very often. I needed it. I got it. I’m thankful.
Love is all around us. Love is not romance. Don't confuse the two or think they are the same thing. Love is caring for each other every single day, even when it’s really really hard. Love is staying. Love is sometimes leaving. Love is letting go and love is coming back to each other. Especially when it's really really hard. True love: in sickness and in health.
The day the kids felt better, we walked to school and my boy once again voiced his fears about going to school for the first time with his cast. His sister was supportive and said, “I can help you with whatever you need and the teachers will help you too, Gah.”
I can’t flap with two arms! Maybe I can just do one. Hey it works!
My boy flaps when he's happy. He's flappy. This was the sound of one arm flapping.
He didn’t want anyone making a big deal about his cast. He didn’t want anyone to see it. But when we got there, he whipped off his coat and showed all the kids immediately. He proudly told everybody what had happened and accepted their kind words. Bebe proudly told all the kids, “My brudder is back today! He has a cool new cast on.”
They even got to go to a dance at school when they felt a bit better for a couple days. All the kids were dressed up fancily, but these two wanted to be Beauty and the Beast. That is a thing I can do.
When your kids are sick or hurting, even for just a few days, it is sheer agony. It is hell on earth. With twins, they trade it back and forth like a ping pong match. One gets better and BAM the other is now sick. And on and on. While I count my blessings constantly that these kids are as healthy as they are each day, it’s still ok that I say this was really really hard. And it’s up to us to help them feel better. That’s a lot of pressure. Doing all we can to ease their pain is a big responsibility. We act in the moment and worry about paying for it later.
In America, we worry about paying for healthcare a lot. It was in my mind the entire time. It sucks. But we do what we need to do and worry about that later.
After that first round of sickness, we all got sick again. I got the flu.
I don't remember ever feeling so sick. So in a daze and a haze and in so much pain. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. You really know things are bad when the mama is sick. I'm thankful for Nikki and my husband during some of those days and nights when I couldn't even function. I often talk about gratitude for healthy kids most of the time, but I don't often talk about how supremely healthy I am most of the time. OH GOD DO I NOT DO WELL WITH BEING SICK. Lesson in humility, coming right up!
The last month has looked like this -
After having the sickness in our home for a straight month, I've compiled some of the best things about living in the sickness.
BEST THINGS ABOUT BEING SICK FOR A MONTH
- Wearing my I give up flannel nightgown and having my period on top of it all.
- No voice to yell with and realizing just how much I tend to yell, or at least raise my voice.
- Crossing off the days on the calendar of taking amoxicillin and then turning the x's into snowflakes (courtesy of my girl who helped each day to administer the medicine) OH and we also found out due to an intense rash that my girl is ALLERGIC TO AMOXICILLIN - bonus points! p.s. Nikki makes the best GET WELL SOON cards.
- So many used tissues and each sneeze is in slow motion now and NOW THERE IS NOTHING LEFT TO DO BUT BURN THIS HOUSE TO THE GROUND.
- Sleeping in the basement all week and WiFi not working (because I will suffer a slow death before I call Comcast but dammit I had to) so watching antenna tv and old Family Ties and Law and Orders (DUN DUN) and actually loving it.
- My boy sneaking down in the basement to my sick bed and saying, "good morning mama, can we snuggle" each day I was banished because of my coughing. He's so sad we actually had to resume to normal hours and routine. But he's getting used to it. I keep telling him, "we will be sick again, my boy, and you can early morning visit me then".
- Thinking you feel better, or anyone in your family feels better, and then WHAM YOU SUCKERS you will never ever be better again!
- Being sweetly gifted with certain favorite friends to sleep with to make me feel better.
- Cheese-its and Cheerios in my sick bed from my small visitors.
- Working from home when I definitely shouldn't have been and wondering what the hell I actually wrote in all those emails. Gobbelty-gook.
- All the Sesame Street.
- "We want to take a nap with you mama" winds up being two kids taking over the sick bed and you have to move to the chair.
- Throwing up from coughing.
- Losing 5 pounds from not eating but then gaining it all back in one day from all the feeling better eating.
- The trusted, quiet conversations under the covers. The reassurances that we are, indeed, right here.
- Trying to joke with nurses and doctors. I AM SICK. DO NOT JOKE WITH ME.
- Seeing the same dad/daughter combo at doc and then at CVS. WE ARE BONDED FOREVER NOW. I hear you calling your wife to get your social security numbers and insurance info. I see you here with your girl helping her feel better.
- Eating ice cream at 9am BECAUSE I CAN. My angel husband bought me more.
- All I want to do is curl up with Grey's Anatomy (I never watched one episode until about 6 months ago and now that's all I want to do - and I only watch for the women - THANK YOU SHONDA)
- Thinking about how much all the doctors visits are going to cost. Letting it go and then thinking about it again. That's actually a crippling fear, not a favorite thing.
- And my favorite - peeing when coughing and sneezing - SO MUCH ESCAPING PEE. It's glamorous over here.
- That feel good drug. You know the one. It’s called just feeling good again.
The greatest high I've ever known is when myself and everybody I love feels like themselves. I never ever ever take it for granted. If there were a pill that would make me feel like that first day of feeling like myself again, I might go off the wagon. When you see your kids feeling better and acting obnoxiously themselves, you are just thankful instead of annoyed. When they are sick and quiet and still, well, that's not what we want - not really.
It's been a whole 8 days since I first came down with the flu and let me tell you that my body still feels like it was hit by a truck. I'm listening though. I rest when I need to and when I feel good, I take advantage of it. I've been to my office 3 days in a row this week - which is the most since December. A record!
Normalcy is never to be underrated. I will take normal any day.
What we learn when we are sick is who we lean on, really lean on, and who we feel most comfortable with. Another lesson in gratitude and humility. When we are sick the rest of the world seems turned off for those days. All the things we are so concerned about OUT THERE suddenly don't matter and our world gets extremely small. And that's ok. That is when we see what matters. What is at the heart of your heart - these people. Ultimately yourself. If you don't feel well, nothing matters. True love: in sickness and in health.
Bring on March, bring on Spring. We are ready for renewal. Wishing everyone health and normalcy. Normal is fantastic.
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