This week, the boys have been sick. Daily fevers and a cough.
Shawn and I have been trading taking days off work. By Thursday, we decide to take them to the doctor, mostly because we are worried about burning through all our "vacation" days. At least that is my motivation; I am sure Shawn was concerned about their well-being.
So I take the boys to the ER since our family doctor is away until Monday. I apologize to the registration desk and the triage nurse, and explain that I know it isn't an emergency but we have no other care. Honestly, I feel really guilty and silly accessing urgent care for a cold.
Also, it is the second time in a week because Malcolm had croup on the weekend, so I mostly just don't like the place.
My first clue that I may be unsuitable for motherhood is in triage. The nurse takes Malcolm's blood oxygen levels three times. She seems to consider him sicker than I thought. But I don't have much time to think about it because inconveniently, this is also when Nevin starts thinking about where he is and gets a little nervous. I do not notice, because I'm too busy trying to send telepathic electrosignals to the oxygen tester thing. When he says, "Mommy, I feel like I'm going to faint," I realize that he isn't so much standing beside me as he is melting onto my shoulder. I look at him: he is a cartoonish shade of gray and swaying. Of course, I have three winter jackets, a diaper bag and toddler hooked up to a (lying?) finger machine thingy on my lap, so I am a little slow moving. The triage nurse guides him over to a chair just in time for his head to loll back. "I swear we only came because my regular doctor office is closed." And that sweet little nurse didn't judge me at all for being so clueless.
Here is the play-by-play for the subsequent hour:
Nevin is healthy, at least physically.
Malcom needs chest X-rays.
25 min into waiting for X-rays, I ask for a tissue.
5 minutes later the lady at the desk asks, "Ma'am are you here for an appt or...?" Who just hangs out in hospital waiting rooms with sick kids?
They find the paperwork and call in Nevin. I correct the X-ray technician with a very polite "Remember... its for, umm, Malcolm...?" He disappears.
Malcolm gets called in. He gets the x-rays with me holding his hands above his head. He is breathing deep, bottom lip out, trusting me, eyes moist, holding my gaze, trying to be brave. Basically, heart break in a look.
And here comes the mom guilt: we go back to the doctor and find out he has pneumonia. Somehow I missed that while he was clinging to me the last few days.
And the real guilt? We've been there for a couple hours, the boys are tired and I am itching to get out. With the diagnosis, I start suiting up the kids while the doctor goes to write the prescriptions. The doctor comes back in, looked at the semi-suited up boys and says, "Umm, I'm sorry but I can't let him leave like this." He wasn't writing a prescription, he was giving the nurses instructions on how to open up his clogged airway. It was a very polite way of saying your son is really sick crazy lady. Where's your head?
So they helped him out and got his blood oxygen levels up. And we all went home and I forgot to feed Malcolm lunch and we had a nap because I was tired. Good news though: he survived.