I couldn’t take the time to get dressed, much less take a shower, because my son was busy throwing up every 20 – 30 minutes from 6 a.m. on.
At one point, around ten, I think, I said, “Cole, do you think you’ll be okay for a few minutes while I get dressed?”
He considered. “No.”
“Well, you’ve got your bowl and a washcloth. Don’t you think you’ll be okay on your own for a few minutes?”
“No. I won’t have you.”
At eleven we got tired of his room. And I admit it, my energy was flagging. I was reading The Lightning Thief to him – this is our second reading. If we ventured downstairs, I could bend my no-tv-on-sick-days rule … because clearly, this was not a Faking sick day.
Guiltily, I ate a piece of toast while he watched a movie. But even Shaggy and Scooby in Monsters Unleashed could not stave off the regular regurgitation.
At noon I called the advice nurse. “Yes, every 20 – 30 minutes. No, he can’t even keep down a spoonful of water. No, he doesn’t have a fever. Yes, his eyes are starting to look a little sunken. Three o’clock? Okay.”
(For those of you who are not parents, the smaller the body, the faster dehydration becomes a problem. You have to worry about kids much sooner than an adult. And my 9yo hasn’t topped 60 pounds yet.)
Around 2:00 I managed to change into actual clothes and pull my lank hair into a ponytail. I helped the little dehydrated guy into clothes and shoes. We drove across town, with one eruption en route.
By 3:30, two nurses and a phlebotomist were in the room, and I was holding Cole’s hand while they started an IV.
“Look at me,” I said. “Not at your arm.”
Getting an IV is not as quick as getting a shot. It requires someone to insert a fat needle in a receptive vein, then fit a tiny tube in the vein. If you’re dehydrated … your veins are shrunken: welcome to hell. This can mean someone sticking you with a needle four or five times before they get a good vein.
Luckily, it was just one stick … but seemingly endless wiggling and maneuvering of the needle-and-tube gadget.
He yelled. I told him to squeeze my hand as hard as he could.
The wiggling and maneuvering continued.
“Cole, remind me: who’s going with Percy on his quest?”
“I don’t know! Aaarggh!”
“It’s Grover, right?”
He nodded. “Yarrrgh!”
“And who else?”
“I don’t know!!!” (I think we can accurately interpret his unspoken meaning as “SHUT UP!! Who cares?!!”)
“It’s Annabeth, right?”
The tube was nowhere near all the way in. As a matter of fact, I could almost swear the nurse’s damn hands were shaking. Grrrr.
“And remind me: where do they have to go to find the entrance to the underworld?”
Pause. He opened his eyes. “Los Angeles.”
“Oh, right, right.”
More inching the tube in. More yelling.
“And then what, Cole? What do they have to do once they get there?”
“I don’t know!”
“They have to take a boat to get to Hades, right? What’s the river called, again?”
“The River Styx!” he yelled, then looked at me, waiting for another question.
I swear it felt like this went on forever. The nurse messing around with my sick kid’s vein while I tried to distract him and not toss my own toast.
Finally it was finished. The IV was securely taped in place, and Cole was studying it in disgusted fascination.
Except it wasn’t really finished.
Now the huge phlebotomist guy planned to draw blood.
Thank the gods (!) he was good with distracting questions, because I was done.
“Do you play any sports? Really? Me, too. I played football for seven years. Now this is a really thin needle, so it won’t hurt much at all, compared to the IV. What position do you play? Oh yeah? Cool. There. All done.”
Thank you, Huge Blood-Draw Guy. I really wanted to ask him to show Cole some of his tattoos (like a reward?), because I could see them peeking out of the sleeves of his white coat … but I faltered at the etiquette. Maybe he didn’t feel like whipping off his coat for every curious kid. Maybe, um, it wasn’t the time or place.
We spent the next couple of hours there while the fluids dripped into Cole’s body. It was amazing how quickly he started to look better, and perk up.
I had the book I’m reading in my bag - The Dark is Rising, by Susan Cooper. We got through the first two chapters (they’re really long) before my voice was tired.
Even with a captive audience, however, I’m afraid the story didn’t grab my son. The writing is lyrical, but the plot gets off to a slow start. (I think you mentioned that, Kelly?) Maybe when we’ve finished with our good friend Percy, we’ll try Will Stanton’s story again. I will keep reading it – I’m not 9, so I don’t mind a slow start to a story.
Before we left, the doctor reported that the blood test revealed nothing scary, and that this was probably just a nasty virus. She gave me the post-visit instructions, and we made our way home.
Parenting is a rollercoaster in the dark – sometimes the heights are Olympian and sometimes the depths stink of Cerberus’s triple dog-breath.
I was so drained I was in bed by 9:15.
Cole is much better today.
Now we wait …
… to see if we are going to get it.