I had big plans for this week.
Big, big plans.
On Tuesday I intended to take the kids after work/school to the store to pick out Father’s Day gifts and cards. While there I planned to pick up a bottle of wine and have a glass every evening while their father was out of town this week.
I miss my wine.
By golly, a reunion was in order. All week I had anticipated the taste of a nicely chilled Pinot Grigio on the tip of my tongue as that heady, buzzy, relaxed warmth worked its way through the rest of my body…
Then, at noon, I got the call that my daughter was running a fever. With no one I could call in a pinch to get her, I used the lunch hour to pick her up and bring her back to the clinic. She lay still in the floor of my office the whole afternoon while I finished seeing patients.
Mind you, she was NOT ill when I loaded her up in the car that morning, even if the front office personnel at school gave me the suspicious squinty-eye, as if I was one of *those* parents… No. Not this time, people!
By the time I got her home, she was running a temp of 104. I had to cancel clinic the next day because I had no one who could watch her.
“Nooooo, mommy! My throat does NOT hurt!!!!”
A summary of the next 24 hours: Fevers. Fussiness. Refusing to eat or drink. More fevers. More fussiness. Negative flu test. Negative strep test. Negative urinalysis. More fevers. More fussiness. Another negative strep test.
With her finally developing some nasal congestion, I decided that it must be a viral upper respiratory infection. It will go away, I told myself, just be patient.
That’s my baby you’re talking about there!!!
Thursday, she seemed to be doing a bit better and my mother agreed to babysit. She was not entirely comfortable with how high the fever was, still running 103-104’s, but she would do it anyway, she said, since I did not have anyone else to help out.
In the middle of the afternoon, as I was telling a patient that she needed an X-ray, there was a pounding on the exam room door:
“Doc! Your mother called, says that you need to call her immediately, your daughter is very ill!”
Deciphering my mother’s frantic gibberish, I gleaned that the kiddo had vomited blood. How much blood? She could not say.
By the time I got home, there was a pile of bloody paper towels in the floor, complete with a few mid-sized clots. My daughter was laying across a chair in the living room, moaning, her blood crusted nightgown plastered to her feverish body.
Checking her out, NOW her throat looked awful. NOW her strep test was positive. Fortunately, she did not bleed out. She is on the mend after an antibiotic.
I learned some important things from this experience:
1. How isolating this job can be. I barely have enough time or emotional reserve left over at the end of the day for connecting with my family, much less socializing with anyone else. As great as my virtual friends are, without a real, live social support network you are screwed.
2. Doctors can get it wrong. Even when we try really, really hard to get it right. Even when we care very, very much for the patients involved. We can still get it wrong.
3. Crazy parents that call over and over again for their kid’s super high fevers? Yeah. Not crazy.
4. I do NOT want to be a single parent. Ever. That plane had better land without incident this afternoon.
5. I still really need that glass of wine…