Saturday, June 09, 2007

Rooting for Strep

HellBoy may be having a nervous breakdown. Or, it could be just strep throat.

It all started a few months ago, when HB went from being a silent, peaceful sleeper to sounding like your uncle Bob after the Fourth of July barbeque—snoring, grunting, thrashing, and, at times, becoming apneic. Yes, we took him to the pediatrician, and yes, she recommended a consultation with ENT. However, an appointment with ENT turned out to be a precious commodity. While we were waiting, he seemed to get better.

Then a couple of weeks ago he had a volcanic vomiting illness. Then he had a second one, some five days later. Then he had a febrile illness—and by febrile, I mean that one afternoon the temporal artery thermometer flashed “HI” at us, and it hadn’t developed artificial intelligence and started saying hello—it was indicating that his temperature was above the upper limits of its range, which is to say, above 107. (It was TrophyHusband who obtained this reading. Since he’d done it while HB was sleeping, he figured that maybe the child had recently turned over and that he’d just measured the side that had been pressed against the couch. He turned on a fan and rechecked it a few minutes later and it was “only” 104.5.) His eardrums looked fine, and the fever went away after three days or so.

Then the snoring/choking/thrashing started up again. This meant that none of us were sleeping well, so everyone got kind of crabby.

All of this was followed closely by HB’s third birthday, which he thoroughly enjoyed despite the sleep deprivation. He got his heart’s desire: a real guitar, ¼ sized. He also got a lot of grandparental attention.

Finally Monday he had to go back to daycare, and immediately started his transition to Pre-K. (Pre-K!)

And started falling apart. By Wednesday, the teacher (his toddler class teacher; they've slowed down the transition) called us to come pick him up, which they have never, ever done before. His daycare is awesome; it takes something close to demonic possession for them to eject a child. His father took him Wednesday afternoon. I tried to drop him off Thursday morning, and he huddled on the rocking chair with me for thirty minutes, then burst into heartwrenching sobs as I peeled him off of me. I went to a meeting at work, then called daycare, and they said “Well … he’s a little better … well, actually, you’d better come get him.” When I got there all of the other children were frolicking in the playground, and he was crumpled into a ball on his teacher’s lap. He burst into tears when he saw me and sobbed, “I didn’t think you would come!”

Of course, I’ve also been fiendishly busy. I’ve been trying to spend every non-working moment paying attention to him—I have proof of that: my last entry was weeks ago! I didn’t even go running some days!—but I know he’s picked up on my stress, and he certainly notices when I don’t get home until 7 or 8.

HB looks exactly like his father, but his temperament seems, unfortunately, to be all me. This is the source of some guilt on my part. Should I have bred, knowing that my genome carries the code for some seriously messed up psyches? My brother went to school 38 days of first grade. He didn’t miss 38 days. He went for a total of 38 days. (Of course, that was immediately after my father died, but still.) And I hated being a child. This makes adulthood probably more enjoyable for me in some ways, but I still want HB to be happy being a kid. And lately, he doesn’t seem very happy.

Then yesterday was his three year checkup. I told our pediatrician the saga, and she said 1. Don’t pick him up early from daycare anymore and 2. His tonsils look hideous, let’s get a rapid strep test.

Of course his tonsils look hideous, I thought—they’ve been hideous for months. And he’s not complaining of a sore throat (not that he ever complains of anything, except having his will thwarted) and he’s not even febrile anymore. But sure, whatever. She said they’d call later in the afternoon, because the test had to be sent to the hospital for processing. (“Rapid strep” seems like a misnomer in this situation; “quickish strep” would be more accurate.)

No call came, which didn’t surprise me, since I knew he didn’t have strep anyway. I was able to cancel most of my obligations for the day and hang out with him, but then I had an awards dinner to attend.

This morning I took HB with me to a lovely baby shower. He was slightly subdued, which meant that he climbed into the host’s child’s crib and bounced on the mattress like a rabid kangaroo, used balloons as punching bags, took stages dives from the top of the couch and nearly took out the expectant mother, and ate cake, chicken nuggets, and a ham and cheese croissant. He also shared rather nicely, in particular allowing all of the other toddlers to take swigs from his sippy cup.

As I pushed him in his stroller toward my car, I noticed a text message on my phone from my husband: Just got a call that the rapid strep from yesterday was positive.

My first thought was, OK, that’s not even quickish strep, that’s glacial strep. My second thought was, oh god, he’s Typhoid HellBoy—all those kids who shared his cup! My third thought was, hey, maybe he’s not having a nervous breakdown—maybe the poor kid’s just sick.

I’m rooting for the strep.