Monday, February 18, 2013

The flu and all that it implies

I’ve refrained from doing an illness-themed post for some time. My intention was to never go back to that topic again. After several months of entries that consisted of me “complaining” about Elliot’s various minor ailments, I felt that I needed to focus on the positive elements of raising a toddler. But that was before the flu hit us a couple weeks ago.

Despite the fact that I have been good about keeping Elliot’s maladies out of the blog, he has been sick quite a bit. He is in childcare and it seems that every little bug or germ he comes in contact with knocks him for a loop.

A few weeks ago when he began coughing and started to run a fever my first thought was “here we go again.” After a day, my wife and I decided that this one seemed particularly hard on him so we went to see the doctor, just to be safe. About 30 minutes later we had a positive flu test on our hands. This was it, the moment all our training with these little colds had been preparing us for.

Complicating matters, Elliot decided several months ago that he was no longer interested in ingesting any type of medicine. As his Father, I was particularly excited to learn that my assignment for the next week would be to figure out how to get the bitter tasting powder inside a Tamiflu capsule down his throat twice a day. We tried everything, sprinkling it on bananas, mixing it in apple juice, yogurt, even ice cream – but at every turn we were thwarted. The fact that Elliot can see through these thinly veiled schemes will serve him well as an adult (he won’t be tricked into the protective undercoating) but as a child it’s just annoying.

The flu came and went fairly mild compared to what many have had to deal with, but it left behind this pesky cough. We dealt with it for a time, but it just seemed to be getting worse. To raise the stakes even higher, Elliot is not very good at coughing, in fact I would venture to say he is statistically near the bottom of the league. He can’t seem to grasp the concept of coughing with out gagging himself. Whenever a coughing fit starts we are on high alert for what follows - vomit. But did that stop us from taking him to a restaurant Saturday? No. Why would it?

Things got bad in a hurry. I don’t know if it was the outside air or the change in environment, but before the hostess had even shown us to our table I was acutely aware that Elliot was coughing … a lot. They had just delivered our chips and salsa down when it happened … and it was bad … really, really bad. All over the table. Lauren and I felt terrible and started trying to clean up this mess. The wait staff wanted nothing to do with the developing drama and were keeping their distance, and I don’t blame them. It was disgusting!

We made it through the next few days thanks to our always helpful parents and had him back in day care by the end of the week. That went well…for all of 3 days. Friday I got the call that he had the dreaded pink eye. By Saturday his fever was spiking and we were back at the doctor’s office yet again.

It’s now Sunday night, I haven’t showered since Friday morning. In the last week I’ve cleaned up vomit from almost every room of my house and off the floor at our neighborhood Chili’s, I’ve given my child a Tylenol suppository and haven’t slept more than a couple consecutive hours. But whenever I start to feel sorry for myself, I look at my sweet son for inspiration. Despite all these tough days and nights he’s had, one thing is constant – he has maintained the sweetest disposition. If he can stay happy and cheerful through such a tough stretch, surly I can clean up a little puke with a smile on my face.

Jordan Echols is a Communication & Image Zone Manager with Texas Health Resources and Dad who has overcome his fear of vomit - at least when it comes to Elliot.

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