So. Um. Yesterday was interesting.
Chickadee spent the afternoon playing at a friend’s house, and when I picked her up, the girls—who had apparently spent the afternoon hiding in Pixie’s room, giggling, as tweens are wont to do—emerged and I actually gasped.
While Chickadee has been rashy for several weeks, now, something happened yesterday. We still have no idea what. But the child who reluctantly emerged to be taken home looked as though she’d been burned over most of her body. The rash had spread to her face. Her arms were lumpy and sandpapery and bright red. There were lesions inside her ears and between her toes. And her hands were covered with tiny blisters, front and back.
I drove home as quickly as was safe and walked into the house and said to Otto, “I am about two seconds from taking this child to the Emergency Room, so either talk me off the ledge and tell me it’s not as bad as I think, or tell me it’s time to go.”
He looked at her and told me to call the doctor before I went.
The doctor directed us to an Urgent Care facility, and we looked up the location online, and programmed it into the GPS, and I drove across town only to discover that that location no longer exists. After a phone call and a reprogramming of the GPS, I headed back across town in the other direction and finally ended up in the right place.
Meanwhile, Chickadee slumped in the back seat, alternately scratching, complaining of being itchy, or generally bemoaning her uncomfortableness. Poor kid.
[Sidebar: You know those times when you fear your kid is really, badly, seriously hurt? And you’re terrified but you have to pretend it’s not so bad so that they don’t freak out? Yesterday was one of those times. I have never seen anything like it in my life. The possibilities running through my mind included all sorts of things, from meningitis to some horrifying ebola-like thing. It was BAD.]
The receptionist gave me some forms and asked me what brought us in. There was a bulb out by the desk, I think, and so it was kind of dark where we were standing. So I had Chickadee put her arm through the little window in response. “OH MY,” said the receptionist. “They’ll be right with you!”
[Note to self: If they cannot fix my child, simply carry her around for better service wherever we go!]
I filled out the forms and turned them in, and then we waited. The tiny television in the corner of the waiting room was showing Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals, and she was preparing “A vegetarian feast!” This was a lucky break; Chickie likes that show, anyway, but the veggie focus piqued her interest and we sat together and watched Ray prepare a chickpea salad, a caprese salad, and a cool veggie fettucini that included “ribbons” of carrots and zucchini. Chickadee let her head rest on my shoulder and rubbed at her arms, trying not to scratch, and murmured, “That pasta looks good. I bet we could make that.” I agreed.
And then… Ray said, “I’m just going to add a little bit of chicken stock to this pot…” and suddenly my daughter was sitting up, incensed, scolding the television.
“Chicken stock? CHICKEN STOCK? What happened to VEGETARIAN FEAST, Rachael? That’s not vegetarian! I’m not coming to YOUR house for dinner, you cheating cheater!”
I tried to muffle my laughter.
“It’s NOT FUNNY, Mom. She goes on and on about this being a good meal to serve to vegetarians, and then she puts CHICKEN STOCK in there? Hey Rachael, ever heard of VEGGIE STOCK? They carry it at the store!”
Is there anything cuter than a self-righteous 11-year-old vegetarian covered in creeping crud? At that moment there sure wasn’t.
Eventually we were taken in, and GUESS WHAT! They still have no idea what it is or why. But they ruled out a couple of scary things, and then gave her the option of a shot in the butt or a week of pills (hooray for the healing power of steroids). Chickadee hates needles, and so immediately opted for the pills. But a few minutes later she said, “Wait, the shot works faster? How much faster?” And the doctor explained that the shot might start working in a few hours, and so she took a deep breath and said she wanted the shot, instead.
Even though she hates needles.
That was a pretty good indication of just how miserable she was feeling.
So she got the shot and she cried and cried, and I stroked her hair and reminded her that when you already feel crummy, anything is enough to push you over the edge into feeling worse, and the shot really wasn’t so bad, and I was so proud of her for making the grown-up choice of what was best for her health, even though she really hadn’t wanted to do it. She continued to sniffle. Until I asked to check the rash on her belly… and blew a raspberry on her belly button. Then she stopped crying and giggled—a little girl once more—and the crisis was past.
Times like this, the juxtaposition of young woman she’s becoming and little girl she still is strikes me in a way that’s almost painful. But I suspect she’s going to be just fine.
(Just don’t slip any chicken broth into her food. Seriously. She will cut you.)
Happy Love Thursday, everyone. May the ever-changing children in your life keep growing up to be folks you genuinely LIKE… but not too fast.