Hi. You haven't heard from me in a while, because I am so deep in the ick it's hard to resurface.
You would think that as your kids get older, it wouldn't be such a big deal when they get sick. I mean, when a baby gets sick, it's just like one huge snotty poop-explosion of whining misery. When a kid is old enough to blow their own nose and wipe their own ass, it should be easier.
But it's not.
It started with a stuffy nose - Max had it for two weeks. I tried to ignore it. Alleriges. Or something. It wasn't slowing him down, he had no fever, he was eating and drinking just fine. And then he said his neck hurt. And his throat. And then he lost his voice.
And so it began.
Lucy got a little runny nose, and the cutest little sneeze to go along with it. Then she got kind of stuffy. And then, one fateful night, as I lay in bed......I heard the cough.
Are you familiar with a nebulizer? How about inhalers? Do you know what albuterol is?
If you answered "Yes" to any of those questions, you just groaned out loud and shook your head. Because the cough in the middle of the night? Means you aren't sleeping. Not that night, and probably not the next one either. It means you have to get your tired self out of bed, find something decent to wear because you're sleeping with your kid, and dig out the vaporizor. It means that you will fill the tank with water and turn it on in a daze, while closing all the windows and doors to the bedroom. It means you are rubbing some sort of eucalyptus-mentholatum greasy/creamy crap all over your kid's chest, ensuring that you will stink like BenGay for the next week. It means the cough will start as a short bark and probably progress to the deep, body shaking rumble. There may be a fever, there may not - but it doesn't much matter. It sucks just the same.
And since that fateful night, the night of the cough, my kids have been home. Lockdown. No playdates. No library. No school. No sports. No nothing except movies and hot baths and car rides to get more movies.
We had the distinct pleasure of spending two mornings in a row at clinic - the second time we went I forgot to bring the charger and the rarely seen Nintendo died in the waiting room after it's exhaustive use the day before. My phone was on it's last blinking bar in the parking lot, after 2 hours of Angry Birds. But we weren't done yet. We weren't nearly done. I had made the executive decision on this second day home from school that I was going to have to get back to my regularly scheduled programming.
I had to return the keg from Saturday night's art show.
So after the doctor's appointment the kids climbed back in the car clutching bottles of orange juice for the almost 2 hour round trip to the brewery - no phone, no video games, just me, Max, Lucy.....and the Beastie Boys. The road out to the west side is long and winding, cut into cliffs, sweeping along past beaches and crystal blue waters....and we rolled down the windows and bobbed our heads and sipped on our juice and sang along to every song (and yes, a few bad words were in there).
And it was fun.
It was fine.
Okay, it was bearable. We made it. And then we finally got home and they lay on the floors and climbed into laps and read books and built crazy Lego cities and I cooked their favorite dinners (yes I made two). Being sick wasn't so bad! We did some worksheets, practiced spelling words, and made some journal entries, trying to embrace the homeschooling vibe for an hour or so.
This morning, I woke up to find them dressed and eating breakfast.
"We're going to school." Lucy was firm.
"We gotta get back." Max was anxious.
"You are both still sick." I was frustrated - I wanted them to go back to school - GOD KNOWS I wanted them to go back to school. But they had circles under their eyes and their noses were running and I looked at Lucy suspiciously. "What about your cough."
"Cough? I don't have a cough anymore" she said innocently.
I raised an eyebrow. Max made a sandwich and grabbed his lunchbox.
"We're going to school, Mom."
"No, not if I say you don't."
"We're fine" Lucy was exasperated. She may have even rolled her eyes a little.
I went to brush my teeth, and when I came out they were standing next to the door. "Guys we don't have to leave for 20 minutes."
"We'll wait outside."
When we got into the car, Max was already blowing his nose. Lucy was wheezing As I turned on the ignition she coughed. I turned the car off.
"OUT." I pointed firmly at the house. They walked back inside sullenly.
"Lucy, why don't you make another journal entry?" I suggested brightly. She fixed me with a steady gaze. "We haven't done anything for me to write about."
"Write about returning the keg yesterday" Max suggested.
Lucy grabbed a bag of pretzles out of her lunch box and silently bit off pieces - then held it aloft, triumphant. "It's an 'e'!" she exclaimed. "And a 6!" Max chimed in. "AND A NINE!" they said in unison.
Oh for fuck's sake.
I was tired. Frustrated. This was dragging on forever. We needed to figure something out.
We had to try something new.
Which is why I was standing in our local eastern medicine shop, where everything is on small shelves reaching up to the ceiling, in colorful boxes and little glass bottles or has to be scooped out of a bin. Herbs and tonics and oils and elixers. If people have been using Chinese medicine for thousands of years, there's gotta be something to it, right? "She's got a cough." I explained, pointing at Lucy, as she stood awestruck in the tiny shop with all of the delicate packaging and hand-written labels in a foreign language with letters she couldn't decipher. "And I think he has a sinus infection" I said, nodding at Max, who was over in the corner playing with the little jade amulets.
I bought a big bottle of syrup, and a box of lozenges, and 12 vials of a powder I was supposed to add to the syrup, and some oil to rub on their chest, or to sprinkle in their bathwater.
And tonight, no one is coughing. I hope they are okay, I coudn't read any of the directions on any of the packaging so I was sort of winging it, and I think one of the boxes said "snake oil" so I don't know what that's all about - but the kids said it tasted good and I don't think it can hurt and it this point?
I just want to sleep in my own bed without someone coughing directly into my mouth every 15 minutes.
So if it takes some snake oil, well.....so be it.
10 minutes ago