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COVID changes things with childhood illnesses
From the valley
YOU ALWAYS KNOW when something isn’t quite right with your little ones. Here, the trauma involved having the cookie jar revoked, but Em and Chasca have been through a lot of health scares with this guy in the last four years. COVID puts an extra twist on childhood illnesses and adds an extra layer of anxiety.

RISING SUN - Throughout the past nearly year, we’ve been lucky enough to be the healthiest we’ve ever been. All of the increased handwashing, mask wearing, distancing, no more daycare, coupled with an improved sense of self care and eating habits seemed to have really made their mark on our lives. 

After such a long struggle with Thatcher as a toddler being constantly sick with severe ear infections, high fevers and febrile seizures, this extended period of wellness for two kids has been welcomed. Not to mention during a plague any kind of illness is certainly extra scary. 

But, we were due I suppose, so when I came home on Tuesday after work, I tried not to panic as upon touching Thatcher’s little forehead I immediately noticed a fever. I looked to Chasca and bombarded him with questions regarding Thatcher’s previous state. 

Chasca looked at me both shocked and dumbfounded by my discovery. 

For Thatcher’s part, he was pretty indifferent, about the whole thing. Happy to flop on the couch, drink water, and enjoy some Transformers before dinner. He seemed totally oblivious to my panic as I immediately and aggressively assigned his dad to calling his grandparents to let them know of his condition, while I scurried into the other room to call the Vernon Memorial Nurse COVID Line. 

Although we had zero reason to suspect he had been exposed to COVID, it seemed like the appropriate thing to do, considering a fever is one of the hallmarks of the virus. 

After running through the questions with the kind nurse, I scheduled an appointment for Thatcher bright and early next morning. I returned upstairs to shoo Chasca into making his calls that he had not yet made and we settled down for what I hoped would not be a long night. 

Chasca and I both have a touch of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) when it comes to Thatcher and fevers. We endured night after night of high fevers and illness without much explanation. There would be times, especially following the first night he woke us, seizing in our bed between us, that we would set alarms for every 30 minutes. We’d wake up and check his temperature again until his ibuprofen would kick in and we could all sleep until it was scheduled to start wearing off and we’d start the cycle all over. 

These days, our bed is no longer king-sized so it is too small to fit the whole family of four, at least comfortably for sleep. And being that Chasca mostly sleeps like the dead, the role of squeezing in Thatcher’s tiny twin-sized bed to make sure he stayed okay though the night fell on me.  Being the snuggly and very attached little boy he is, he was thrilled, especially when the cat joined us as well. 

I of course didn’t get much sleep, my mind kept busy by the little glowing screen of my Iphone, as I consistently reached over to lay a hand on Thatcher’s head. When I finally fell asleep, it felt as though I was only in dreamland for a few minutes before his shivering under a pile of blankets woke me up. Right on time from his fever reducer wearing off, Thatcher’s fever had gone up again. He groggily accepted another dose and told me how he wanted to serve herring eggs at the grand spring party that he is planning. 

The next morning, we got up like two early birds. Thatcher’s medicine was still working so he seemed to still feel fine as we loaded up to go to the Respiratory Clinic at the hospital. For those who haven’t had the experience of getting a COVID test done at the hospital, they have things pretty streamlined. There is a designated parking spot where you are able to have a clear view of the door to the specific area where you’re treated and tested. After calling a number a provider appears at the door, wearing what looks like a space helmet and other appropriate personal protective equipment. He brought along his favorite stuffed creature, Monsty. He lovingly showed it to the provider and told her about his school shoes he got to wear. 

The provider had him climb up on my lap and tilt his head back. I knew what was coming when she asked that I have a good hold on his head and waist. Thatcher felt relaxed in my arms until she stuck the giant q-tip up his little nose. “AHHHH I DON’T LIKE THIS!” He screamed and immediately began sobbing. I had tried to foreshadow him of how it felt. I explained what would happen and that it would probably make him feel like he needed to sneeze when they were “scraping out his snot.”  I neglected to tell him it might hurt a little. 

We were quickly shuffled out of the room and told it could take two to five days to get his results. As we exited, we were greeted with an arm reaching out with a pile of stickers, something to take the edge off a bit. Thatcher clung to my arm as we walked, still sniffling and crying while he exclaimed, “Mom, I thought that was supposed to be fun, but it wasn’t!” He crawled back into his car seat with his bird book, Monsty, and a blanket and we headed home. 

That night, my phone buzzed with a new email from the health system alerting me there were new test results for Thatcher. I quickly logged on to reveal what our next steps might be. Negative. I believed a sigh of relief and announced to my family “NEGATIVE!” and quickly shot an email to his grandparents to share the good news. 

After another day of laying around with a mild fever, lots of naps, and water, Thatcher made a full recovery. Another one of those moments where in a non-pandemic time, a doctor would have looked at me, shrugged and said “it’s just a virus.”  And although the word virus has been one I’ve dreaded so deeply over the past year. Yet, I’m happy to say, it seemed like it was “just a virus,” and all is well again.