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An Eleven-Year-Old Still Needs His Mom

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Last night, I got awakened by my barely eleven-year-old son, saying he felt horrible. I took his temperature and it was 104 degrees. No wonder he felt horrible. His body ached, he had chills, and a headache. I gave him two Tylenols and let him sleep in my bed. The flu, I figured. I’m an R.N., so I’m pretty good at assessing sick kids.

My son has recently been becoming more self-sufficient. Yesterday was his eleventh birthday party. I got a “thanks Mom,” but no hug or kiss like when he was younger. I miss those early years when he would climb up in my lap when he was sick and wanted to be rocked. Last night, he just took his medicine and went to sleep. This morning, he still felt sick and had a 103-degree temperature. I went in nursing mode, checking his neck for pain, the palms of his hands for a rash, both symptoms of bacterial meningitis. I made him tea, toast, and some Motrin. He fell back to sleep, no thanks Mom. But it’s okay. I know he still appreciates me.

When he felt a bit better this afternoon, he said, “You know, Mom, if there were no Moms, everybody would probably die.” I took that as a compliment. He’s growing up but he still needs me. I made him chicken soup and more tea and gave him some Sprite. I did get a thank you for those. And I gave him Vitamin C and Echinacea. But by six p.m., he was still running a fever over 101. So I called his pediatrician. I may be a nurse, but the mom in me wanted to make sure I was doing the right things.

Our pediatrician called back within a half an hour. I was impressed. The few times I’ve had to call them, they always call back within a half an hour. That’s why we have them as our pediatricians. She said I was doing all the right things and to use my judgment through the night as to whether or not he needs to be seen in the Emergency Room. I’m not sure, with the new Swine Flu Regulations, whether to take him to the ER. I’m hoping this is the regular flu, since I had my flu shot in early September. Usually, I get whatever he has and end up in the hospital because I’m on Prednisone for Lupus and am immunosuppressed. His cold turns into my pneumonia.

Thankfully, my husband is off from work tonight, so I won’t have to be alone to make a decision. Plus, we only have one car right now, so if my son did have to go to the ER, my husband would have to come home from work so we could take him. Luckily, we only live about ten minutes from the hospital. But I still called my best friend, who was a pediatric emergency room nurse for fifteen years. She also agreed we were doing the right things for him. Back when he was a baby, I used to call her from Florida, where we lived, to get her opinion on whatever was going on with him. It’s good to have friends in the medical field.

It’s amazing how fast kids get sick. It still baffles me after twenty-seven years of nursing experience, how a kid can be running around, having fun at his birthday one day, and looking like death warmed over the next. And as a mom, I felt guilty about all the other kids at the party, so I spent an hour calling all the parents whose numbers I have, to warn them about the flu that their kids are probably going to get sometime soon. And tomorrow we’ll be at the pediatrician’s office and my son will miss his first day of school this year. He missed twenty-three days last year and I was hoping he’d get through a marking period without an absence.

So now he says he’s bored. I think that’s a good sign. Maybe his temperature will go down and stay down. Maybe he’ll be hungry for the first time today, which would be a very good sign. This kid eats constantly throughout the day, unless I catch him eating something he shouldn’t be eating. And he needs to get well because he’s an aspiring actor and is on the “pick list” for a role on a soap opera and also a commercial. I’d hate for him to miss out on a chance at a job. He’s also going to miss a swimming lesson, which he loves and is very good at. Good enough that his coach wants him to swim at the local university so the coach there can evaluate him. But that’s definitely out for this week, since his lesson is on Monday nights.

I sit here and listen to him breathe, just like I did when he was little. Eleven years old seems so grown up to me. Just the other day he mentioned there was going to be a fifth grade dance and he has two girls in mind to ask to it. His first dance. I can still remember his first steps. And his first words. And his first bout of the flu. I just hope this one is easier on him and he gets well soon. I actually miss his non-stop chatter and excitement over a video game he’s playing. It’s funny what you miss when they’re sick. I was just saying yesterday that I needed a break from eleven-year-old boy stuff. Maybe it was because I had seven boys wrestling in my family room at the time. Now it’s so quiet I can actually hear myself think. And I wish I couldn’t.



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