The Sick Archive

That One Virus

by Alison Friedman in Marvelous Madelyn, The Sick

Since we are the world’s okayest parents, we took Madelyn to see “Hamilton” with a fever. It wasn’t super high. It was one of those 99ish fevers that probably meant she just overdid it at school. Or maybe the fever was the pupu platter before the main entree of an oncoming cold. At intermission, I was already thinking about my game plan for the inevitable snotty noses and complaints of plugged ears. After all, Arielle had just finished her cold (thanks, preschool!) and it was pretty much the one-month mark of school, so a cold for Madelyn was not exactly surprising.

After we got home from the Great Tow Yard Midnight Adventure of 2017, we put Madelyn to bed and hoped for the best. You see, we had the day off from school and wanted to enjoy one last family day at Disneyland before our annual passes expire in October. We decided we’d play Disneyland by ear: if she woke up totally fine, we’d go. If she woke up kind of OK, we’d drug her and go. And if she was legit sick, we wouldn’t go.

She woke up totally fine. We went.

I brought the Advil and Tylenol with me just in case that random fever turned into anything else. And twice, we literally bumped into my friend, who’s a nurse and the wife of one of our pediatricians, so really, the healthy vibes were on our side. The Disney day would be perfect.

And it almost was except for those times that Madelyn spiked another random fever. That’s when I patted myself on the back for being at Disneyland and administering Advil. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too? Once she had the fever reducer and pain reliever in her system, within 20 minutes she was back to her ol’ self.

Arielle might have been judging me for choosing to bring her sick sister to Disneyland. But I didn’t KNOW she was sick yet, AR. I. ELLE. OKAAAAY???

By the end of the day, though, she was a disaster. At first I assumed it was due to exhaustion from the late night at “Hamilton” only 24 hours before, but as time went on, it was clear she was achey and had chills. She was miserable as we were leaving Disneyland, and I’ve never wished so badly for a cold to just start already!

Friday morning, it was very clear that she would have to miss school and that fever persisted. She turned her nose up to juice and popsicles and applesauce, and she just wanted to sleep. She had no energy whatsoever, and began to look as sick as she felt. Her eyes became puffy and by Friday night, I was icing her eyelids to bring down the swelling, but they didn’t budge. I knew we’d be making a visit to the pediatrician on Saturday morning. Because these things always happen over a weekend. Of course.

She woke me during the night with complaints of aches and chills again. It seemed like the meds would work great until they didn’t. Spoiler alert: this pattern continued for six nights and counting. And still, no signs of a cold.

We shuffled ourselves into the doctor’s office on Saturday morning and we ruled out some things that had popped up in my rabbit hole of Google searches. Of course her eyes were not as puffy, so we looked like morons, but isn’t that how it always works? It was not even a full three days of a fever, so we agreed that a virus needs a bit more time to do its thing. He even ordered a strep test, but that came back negative. I was hoping it was positive so we’d have an obvious plan of action, but we decided together that if by Monday, she still had a fever, we would come back for some blood work.

Well, you know where this is going.

Monday, I called her out of school again to give her another day to rest and just in case her temperature spiked. Sure enough, by mid-day, she was back up into the 100s, so we enjoyed an end of day visit with another one of the awesome docs in the group. The doctor agreed that a cold would’ve been obvious by now; her ears looked clear; and five days of fever was a little on the long side for flu. Since she agreed with our equally wonderful Saturday doc, she was about to apologize to me for the drama of inevitable lab work she was going to order if the last straw idea turned out to be negative.

After a tiny finger prick, a little rectangle that looked like an at-home pregnancy test from the dollar store was used to read a drop of Madelyn’s blood. The doctor said that it takes about ten minutes to get a read, so we should just wait a bit in the room and then we’d have an answer. However, before that little test was even walked out the door, the tester started to show two positive lines, but not for a pregnancy… for mono!

I was shocked. When both doctors first mentioned the long shot of mono, but kind of dismissed it, I also didn’t consider it to be a possibility since Madelyn hasn’t been getting friendly at fraternity parties.

That I know of.

You know, she may have mono, but she could still be a hair model.

So here’s what we know: mono symptoms can last around ten days in kids, which typically just include fever/aches/chills and perhaps some swelling, which explains Madelyn’s eyes. Thankfully, there’s no major swelling in her lymph nodes or abdomen, which is good news for her liver and spleen. Apparently, mono is a lot easier to power through as a kid. I asked about the contagious factor because Madelyn also lives with a very cuddly little sister, and the doctor surprised me and said, “Even better! The sooner they get it over with, the easier it will be.” But also, it’s not super likely that Arielle will get it, and mono is transferred via saliva.

So how did Madelyn get mono? We’ll never know. Stuff like that drives me crazy. I would pay so much money to find out the exact moment and specific saliva molecule that infected my daughter, but science isn’t that good. I did learn that incubation is four to seven weeks, which means it all went down sometime in July or August, and we’re just only seeing symptoms now. The only thing to do is keep her comfortable which includes fluids and fever reducers. She’s also taking over Bryan’s iPad, watching TV shows and taking photos.

Animal face filters: the ultimate cure for the mono blues.

Her favorite new thing to do, though, is sending me texts. While we are in the same house. This is what happens when they learn to read and write; they can then communicate like adults. It’s maddening. She also became demanding when, due to user error, the apps or Netflix would poop out.

Here are a few examples of texts along with my most inner thoughts to her messages. This is a great reminder to never give her a bell to ring from bed.

She’s cleared to be out in the world: school, extra-curriculars, meals. She just hasn’t left the house much mostly because she has no energy. I’m hoping that after missing six days of school and resting at home, she’s almost at the end of this. My heart can’t take it anymore. And there’s also not enough coffee in the world to get me through the day since the nightly wake-up calls — literally — are so difficult and sad and exhausting. It’s like having a newborn again, and there’s a reason why we stopped after two: I’m a wimpy mama!

I will say, though, that other than mono lasting so damn long, it’s not as difficult or as annoying as taking care of a child with a cold or any other upper respiratory tract infection. At least there’s no snot or plugged ears or constant coughing all day without much relief. When she spikes a fever, it’s upsetting and dramatic, but it’s also very temporary. But it’s not, well, messy, per se. So, silver lining?

Madelyn will take all the healing vibes she can get as we get her through this totally random bout of mono. We can’t wait until she can come back to school and return to dance as soon as she feels up to it. And when she’s in college and her friends are down with a case of this virus, she’ll know just how to take care of them: with patience, binge watching television, and a lot of humor.

A Pain in the Ear

by Alison Friedman in Marvelous Madelyn, Mommy's Musings, The Sick

Remember two weeks ago when I was sequestered in the house for five days straight wearing perma-pajamas (I pretend to be really annoyed about this, but secretly, this was the best thing ever) while I slaved over pee bags and snot suckers? Well, Madelyn’s fevers never went away and the nose juice was getting juicier. Pulpy even. And she was eating weird. And really, let’s be honest, she was acting like a biatch. This is not typical Madelyn behavior because normally, she is the sweetest kid in the world. But EVERYTHING was pissing her off. I guess I couldn’t blame her. If I didn’t know how to blow my nose and I had a faucet of liquid germs emerging from it, I’d be really irate as well.

But this fussiness turned into spur-the-moment temper tantrums without any kind of trigger! She was going all out — incessant screaming, head banging on the floor, total attitude to mom and dad (sneak peak of her teenage years! Score!). Madelyn was not a happer camper. No kumbayah in our house.

So after a week of sickness, back to the doctor she went.

Of course, when we walked in wearing real clothes for the first time in a week (this development went for both of us), she perked up and acted real chipper. Maybe she was stoked to finally get out of the house and see some other humans other than her old lady. Maybe she was just grateful that I put on mascara and ran a brush through my hair.

We had to go through the sick door to sit in the contaminated side of the waiting room. I feel like there should be a scarlet “S” for SICK branded on our foreheads anytime we have to enter on that side. It’s so embarrassing. And you know the moms on the other side of the waiting room are thinking, “Gosh, glad we’re not in THEIR shoes!” or “That mom didn’t wash her kid’s hands enough!” Banished to the sick side. That’s how we rolled. And yet, when we’re on the healthy side, visiting for well-child check ups, we’re so glad to be separated from THOSE people. It’s a cruel world.

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Madelyn excitedly entered the waiting room and checked in at the desk. Then she wanted to explore the toys and books. Part of me was thinking, “Ho hum. She’s already sick. She may as well entertain herself,” and the other part of me was like, “Oh HAAAAAAIL no, you’re not catching a new germ from touching the infected doctor’s office toys!” The neurotic Jewish mother version of me won, and I enticed Madelyn to sit in a chair, isolated from the toys on the shelves that may as well be petrie dishes.

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We got called back to the room where we did more waiting. To distract Madelyn, we did a butcher paper photo shoot on the exam table. She hammed it up, making me think she was faker for the previous days that she acted miserable.

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The pediatrician came in and we love her! She did a thorough exam on Madelyn, looked in her ears, and, Eureka! There it was! The right side was clear, but the left ear was positive for infection! She said it looked pretty red and gnarly and that was definitely the cause of Madelyn’s un-Madelyn like everything (small appetite, irritable temperament, bad sleep).

She prescribed 10 days on an antibiotic and we immediately trekked to the pharmacy to start the drugs.

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Thankfully, the liquid antibiotics was flavored with something delicious — strawberry milkshake? — and Madelyn gulped it down each time during the entire course. We noticed she was back to her usual self within two days and I am so thankful we caught the ear infection, but so sad it had gone so long.

The week before, when we were in for Madelyn’s initial check, her ears were clear. Obviously the infection began brewing during that time. She never tugged at her ear or touched them in pain, and since she’s still speaking Madelynese, I don’t understand her language. I had no way to know that her ears were the culprit. My poor baby! Oh, Mama Guilt, you are mean.

I’m happy to report that the illness is behind us and so far — KNOCK ON EVERYTHING — Bryan and I have remained healthy during this season of ick. And there goes Madelyn’s first ear infection milestone. It only took 17.5 months. Not bad for a formula fed baby, eh?

I Carried A Bag of Pee Across Town Today. What Did You Do?

by Alison Friedman in Marvelous Madelyn, Mommy's Musings, The Sick

Today was a better day at Camp Sick. I changed my pants, so that’s improvement right there. I still have yet to wear a bra. That’s for tomorrow. Baby steps.

And I’m not even the sick one! (Yet).

Madelyn woke up with a teeeeeny fever, so she got to enjoy some “grape juice” WINK WINK (read: purple Advil) which she inhaled out of the syringe. And then I gave her water, half expecting her to give me the hairy eyeball like she did yesterday when I tried to fluid-ify her. Instead, Madelyn gulped that H20 down and even signed “more” for a second cup. She must’ve woken up extremely thirsty from her liquid strike.

She was in good spirits, so that was another noteworthy improvement. She played and talked to her dolls and made piles with my Tupperware, so her regular activities had resumed. She wasn’t into food, though, and still refused delicious offerings like Jell-O and blueberries and popsicles! One day she will beg to have this breakfast of champions and I will deny her and tell her she should have taken advantage of the sick day diet when she could. Karma’s a bitch, y’all.

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My homework for the day was to get Madelyn to pee into a bag. My mom brought over new bags from the doctor’s office and we sealed it to her bits before her nap.

When she woke up three hours later (my girl’s still got it!), I opened her diaper to find a pristine and sparkling cider-like bag of liquid gold also known as pee. The doctor had been wanting to test her urine for a UTI, but since she was so dehydrated she wasn’t making any! This was a good sign that not only am I a cooperative parent who can follow doctor’s orders, but that Madelyn was less dehydrated.

I got us dressed in semi-real clothes (yes, us) and we drove to the doctor’s office. I kept her pee in my CR-V cup holder because that’s how I roll. I prayed to the traffic gods that I could get there in a timely fashion because otherwise the sample would no longer be good enough for urinalysis. The entire process reminded me of a scene from one of my favorite movies, Forget Paris, where Billy Crystal has to get his man-seed to the fertility clinic asap. L.A. traffic happens and typical Billy comedy ensues. Good flick. Go watch it after you finish reading this. And Debra Winger with a bird stuck to her head? Doesn’t get any more ironic than that.

We got home from dropping off her pee (which will be sent out and tested. Hold your breath for results. I’m sure they’ll be worth passing out over) and Madelyn had dinner. By “dinner,” I mean, Trader Joe’s canned pears and TJ’s wannabe Triscuits. I know. Mother of the Year. But that’s all she would eat and the pears are great for fluid! She got cranky at her usual bed time so we did a bath to freshen her up and she’s probably never been cuter in the bath. The cranky-crank-o version went away and she was like “la la la la la! I’m in the bath! I love life! Idon’tevencarethatIhavesnotonmyforehead! Wheeee!” She did cute stuff and I caught it on video. Want to see? Good.

We brushed up. Read a bed time story. And went to sleep!

I’d definitely say that things are looking up in this house. She only had two fevers today that were quickly remedied with a dose of Advil, but I’m looking for 24 hours fever-free. Tomorrow is the day. I know it.

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Either way, I love that my girl is back to smiles.

  1. 1/24/2013 8:22 PM

    Yay! Glad she is feeling better. I love the bit about the tupperware piles. Made me laugh just thinking about it (cause I know exactly what that kind of play looks like). 🙂

Sick of the Sick

by Alison Friedman in Marvelous Madelyn, Mommy's Musings, The Sick

In just over 24 hours, how could our baby girl go from this:

Hey Madelyn. The Beatles called. They want their hair back.

Hey Madelyn. The Beatles called. They want their hair back.

to this:

I'm in so much trouble for making this photo public.

I’m in so much trouble for making this photo public.

On Tuesday morning, Madelyn woke up hot to the touch. I doubted my therMOMeter — my lips — because I’d thought she’d had fevers in the past only to use the real thermometer to find out that she was fine and normal. So where were my magical lips that could feel fever? As a kid, I remember my mom could put her lips on my forehead, squint in deep thought, and pronounce “one-oh-one point two!” and Regis Philbin would say, “Final ansa?!” and my mom would be like, “Yes, Reeg. Final answer!” and then she’d take my temperature with the real thermometer and sure enough, her therMOMeter was right. Every freakin’ time. (P.S. Let’s pretend for a second that Who Wants to Be A Millionaire was on TV in the late 80s and early 90s because shows like Pyramid and other ones that my mom watched didn’t require the “final answer” schtick). So now as a mom myself, would my lips lie to me?

I kissed her on her head. Warm. But, like, she’s alive and (kind of) well, so that’s a good start. Then I kissed her tummy and it was like backdraft. I may even have third degree burns on my face. The baby was hot. So I took her temperature and she definitely had a high one to the tune of 102.2.

After some milk and water and citrus, I took it again a couple hours later and Madelyn spiked to 104.8. This is a number that grown ups don’t like and I called the pediatrician to find out what she’d like me to do for Madelyn. I should say that this was our first rodeo with a real, true fever. We’ve been so lucky that for 17.5 months, Madelyn has been super healthy! She’s had one bad cold and that’s it. So I felt late to the sickness party, but still very fortunate that Madelyn has had such a clean bill of health for so long. I will say, as much as I did not appreciate this bug invading my daughter’s body, I didn’t mind the cuddles and low-key disposition from the usually rambunctious and busy Madelyn. It felt good to feel needed and I savored every moment of her in my lap in search of hugs.

Kisses and snuggles hold us over until we hear back from the doctor.

Kisses and snuggles hold us over until we hear back from the doctor.

I know how to take care of myself when I’m sick, but I’m not sure what’s appropriate for a toddler and even though I played doctor on Google, I wanted to hear it straight from the source: our beloved pediatrician.

I called and they needed to call me back. I’m sure the office was swamped with other sick kiddos. When I finally heard back and the doctor learned of Madelyn’s 104.8 reading, she asked if we could come in at 5 at the end of her day. And this is why I love her. She’s a working mom and always has time for other peoples’ kids. Amazing doctor.

Super Daddy to the rescue!! aka Mommy gets to breathe for a minute.

Super Daddy to the rescue!! aka Mommy gets to breathe for a minute.

Bryan met us there straight from work and Madelyn was happy to see her handsome daddy. Even when she’s sick, she knows a good thing when she sees it. Thankfully, she was clear for any kind of nasty infections like strep and ears and the doctor performed a flu test that 80% ruled out flu. She wanted to check for UTI, but in the 20 minutes we were there, Madelyn wouldn’t pee in the bag. So she sent us home with pee bag souvenirs to facilitate ourselves. So, no diagnosis, but she told us how we should treat her fever and would like the bags returned with pee the next day for urinalysis. All of the examinations were done with much protest by the patient, requiring parental involvement in the fashion of arm restraints and leg holds. Really fun. The butcher paper on the table was soaked with tears. So was my shirt. Kudos to me for wearing black. A wet t-shirt contest in the office of the pediatrician would not be savory.

Unimpressed with life on the butcher paper and not even getting to enjoy a pastrami on rye.

Unimpressed with life on the butcher paper and not even getting to enjoy a pastrami on rye.

Back at home, Madelyn got a cool bath which she did not love and then went to sleep. Like the usual rockstar she is, she never woke up once even though I slept with one eye open the whole night. Glad one of us got sleep!

In the morning, Madelyn’s personality was back. So was her temperature. At 102.7, we pumped her back up with Advil and affixed the fresh new pee bag. Over the next three hours, she had a half of a popsicle, a couple slices of grapefruit, a handful of blueberries, a few Cheerios, and a pouch of applesauce. She refused liquids. She was not into anything — juice, water, milk. She was falling asleep in the high chair — a new first — so I knew it was time for a nap. I checked her bag and it was empty so I put her to sleep, hoping she’d go while she snoozed.

Asleep at the dining table and refusing all forms of nourishment? She has lost her Friedman card.

Asleep at the dining table and refusing all forms of nourishment? She has lost her Friedman card.

After her “nap” which consisted of on-and-off shut eye and talking to herself, I checked her bag which was still empty and surrounded by other waste, so that was a lost cause. I checked her temp and she was normal, so I felt better about things. I slapped on our last bag and hoped she’d pee before the end of the day.

But two hours later, she still refused liquids and her temp soared back up to 103.3 and her bag was still empty! I even baked cookies because what goes perfectly with cookies? Right? No. Nothing. Apparently. Then I squirted chocolate syrup into her milk because, I mean, who doesn’t love chocolate milk?! Madelyn. That’s who. She wouldn’t touch it. No juice. No fruit cup. No flavored waters. This girl could live off of sand in the Sahara. I called the doctor to say that I have not turned in my homework because my daughter is a camel! She warned me that dehydration is serious and that she needs liquids so she’s either going to get it through a syringe or at the ER via IV. Neither sounded fun.

Short of water boarding her, Madelyn was force fed liquids via syringe because the ER was not exactly my idea of a fun evening or a helpful one to any of our immune systems. She fought it so hard. Oh my gosh. If you’re ever in a dark alley and you’re being chased and you need someone to back you up with arm chops and kicks and crazy, angry Miss Piggy hiiii-ya! kind of stuff, call Madelyn. Email me for her phone number. She means business.

So I escaped the ordeal without needing rhinoplasty, but she got a few syringe-full doses of water and juice, even though she might hate me for it for the rest of our lives. Better to get it out now than when she’s 16, yes?

And because there was an entire factory of Minute Maid all over her body, I stuck her in the bath which was met with whining because of the coolness of the water, but then she got over it and she played and giggled as if we were best friends again. Phew. I was worried.

Bryan came home from work and saw her all happy and was probably like “why is my wife a beast with frizzy hair and juice all over her face and the house a disaster and our dog jumping up and down in desperate pleas of ‘HELP. ME’ when there’s a perfectly happy and sparkly baby girl jubilantly playing in the bathtub?” Actually, he probably wasn’t like that because he gets it. But yeah, thanks a lot, Madelyn, for putting on a good show for your father.

After the bath, she was in great spirits! We tried to incite more thirst by loading her up on salty snack foods, but she only had a few bites and then was on to our scheme. She barely sipped from her cups. So, we went Gitmo-style and force fed our sick little terrorist with liquids via syringe and she cursed us in her baby language “I WILL NOT GIVE UP THAT INFORMATION!” Even though it was upsetting me, too, I tried not to gasp and breathe like Carrie Mathison and really wished I had Saul Berenson on hand to calm everyone down with his beard and Hebrew.

The torture ended and we figured she was so exhausted, she just needed sleep. My mom, with all of her therMOMeter glory, always said that sleep is the best medicine. So we took her temp one more time (normal! Score!) and soothed her to bed.

She’s now sleeping peacefully and I’m hoping to catch a wink or two myself. Taking care of a sick toddler is no fun. Whenever I’d heard of my friends’ babies being sick, I always felt bad for the baby. I still do, of course, because I have a soul (somewhere. Deep down.). But now I feel bad for the caretaker. Like, really bad. My job is still the best and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else, but yesterday and today were hard. I’m sad Madelyn is sick and that she isn’t all rah-rah about the numerous remedies I keep trying to do for her. C’mon, Madelyn. Pretend I’m Jerry Maguire. Help me help you. Help me. Help you. Aaaaand then I go make out with Renee Zellweger while Jonathan Lipnicki talks about human heads.

Crossing fingers we wake up with normal temps and thirst. And then the countdown is on for the germs to attack Bryan and me next. In 5…4… 3…

  1. 1/23/2013 9:46 PM

    Sounds rough! Crossing my fingers for you she stays well and you guys too. Sick babies are no fun! At least you get an adorable blog post out of it though. 🙂