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Over the last decade, I’ve had the privilege to play nurse to three beautiful kids. It is a mother’s prerogative to believe that her offspring are the most beautiful in the world, but I’m confident it’s true in my case.
This time has had its share of illnesses and chronic issues that challenge my skills at figuring out what is an immediate concern versus something that can wait for medical attention. It began during my oldest’s first Christmas, a decade ago. He developed a fever while visiting family and being my first, I didn’t wait a second. I found the local urgent care and took him in. I learned about Bronchiolitis and was eventually prescribed a “nebulizer” that aerosolizes medicine to be breathed into the lungs. Interesting device. The attachments are even more interesting when it comes to pediatric patients.
How to deliver smelly medicine from a loud machine to a child? There was a silly fish mask and even pacifiers that had an escape hole just under the child’s nose. The pacifier was more useful than the fish mask. My oldest would rarely get sick over the ensuing years. I remember one illness where he just came home, said “mom, I’m tired,” and slept for the rest of the day. He’s my sleeper. Mostly, illness goes under the radar with him. I figure his immune response is sleeping.
My second’s go-to immune response was high, unaccounted for fevers. It’s like her body’s response to foreign bodies was a typical girl response to spiders: BURN IT WITH FIRE! Her first came with her first tooth. Yes, it’s a midwives’ tale that teething causes fevers. But I don’t think doctors will succeed in debunking it because many mothers find their kids getting unexplained fevers alongside teeth cutting.
The first one, my daughter was about 8-9 months old and her fever was over 104. I took her to the doctor and we checked for everything, including urinary tract infections. Nothing was wrong. After a few more bouts like this over the ensuing months, the doctor worked with me to determine when to bring her in. The key to a fever is to make sure it doesn’t get too high. Manage the fever and only bring the child in if other symptoms appear or worsen – like cough, lethargy, unexpected mood swings, or behavioral changes. In her third year, my daughter developed febrile seizures with her fevers. She would hallucinate water flooding her bed and bugs. Occasionally her limbs would jump unexpectedly and uncontrollably. By the time she was four, they had disappeared completely. She has not had a fever since.
My last has been uneventful. With a stint in NICU his first week, his health has largely been fine. Occasionally, he finds the middle ground between brother and sister and gets a mild fever and takes a nap. His illnesses tend to last half a day before he’s symptom-free.
Over the years, our doctor’s visits have greatly decreased. A great deal of that is due to knowing when to take my child to the doctor. For most illnesses, putting the child to bed and keeping them hydrated and fever under control is enough. Occasionally, chronic coughing may indicate something that needs attention if it has lasted for several weeks. Most illnesses simply don’t need medical attention. An attentive parent could easily learn after one or two experiences what to expect with a great many child illnesses and what needs medical attention – rashes, fevers, sore throat, coughing, stomach aches, and vomiting.
Throw all of that out of the window. This is a new age. And every single one of those symptoms is also a symptom of Covid. Including all those symptoms without a fever. Even pinkeye is a symptom. It used to be I could identify which illness was what based on symptoms because flu doesn’t typically come with a rash. Not that any of my kids have ever had the flu, but fever followed by a rash was a pretty common child ailment. Now, it’s a symptom of Covid-19. Sore throat is a pretty common symptom of allergies or, with even a low-grade fever, strep throat. It is also a symptom of Covid-19. Even stomach aches and vomiting are now symptoms of Covid-19. So when my child got sick this morning and was vomiting, all my go-to methods for how to handle child illnesses that I’ve accumulated over a decade of parenting these specific kids had to go out the window.
Rather than fight with him about having cereal for breakfast (never give milk to a patient suffering from a sour tummy), giving him his own cup of water, and the frozen popcorn bucket and letting him rest in my bed, we were going to the doctor’s office. Because today is Sunday and I missed church. And everyone knows someone is sick because my missing church is a big stinkin’ deal. And vomiting is a symptom of Covid. So now, I have to get my kid tested for a virus with a stick up his nose before I can go back to church or take him to school.
Cool thing, though. Forty-five minutes later, the results are negative.
I need something more workable than this. It is not okay for everything under the sun to be a symptom of Covid-19, even without a fever.Published in