Hey, let’s talk about the kid who still likes me!
So I may have mentioned that we suspected Monkey had another sinus infection. It was a kind of deja vu to last year’s pre-surgical carnival of Angry Monkey; his behavior has been steadily deteriorating for a month, and all the while he insists he feels FINE he is FINE it’s just that everyone else is STUPID and MEAN and why are you LOOKING AT HIM? Things at school have been rough, and I’ve been back in that place where I say, “He’s sick. This isn’t him. Please be patient, we’re working on it.” And whether it’s reality or not, it feels like even the wonderful Hippie School teachers are not quite believing me, and in the meantime, I’m slipping the kid Advil every morning and on the phone with the ENT’s office, begging them to find him an appointment, a cancellation, ANYTHING, please.
I’ve realized our pediatrician is fairly useless when it comes to Monkey’s ninja sinuses, so that’s why I was waiting for the ENT appointment. I gritted my teeth and waited and finally yesterday was his appointment.
Which is probably why Monkey popped out of bed all smiles and hugs, declaring that he slept great and he felt wonderful. Of course.
Well, far be it from me to complain about him being a good mood, particularly when Hurricane Chickadee has been wreaking havoc and leaving bodies strewn in her path lately. I may have even had a little chuckle to myself, thinking about how I’d take him in and say, “Remember how last year you said after his surgery that that would fix all his problems? I don’t think it did.” And then the doctor would check him out and say, “He’s fine, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Maybe allergies?” And then the good doctor would give me That Look, the one I’ve been getting a lot, lately, when I offer up that no, really, this kid does not say I DON’T FEEL WELL, so it’s like a real-life game of Clue to figure out what’s going on with him.
Yeah, that would be super. I just love a chance to look like a neurotic mother with Munchausen’s By Proxy!
Anyway, I quickly realized that happiness is not to be wasted, regardless of what might be in store later on. I had about a million things to do yesterday, but I’d already planned to have Monkey home for the day, and his appointment wasn’t until the afternoon. Shortly after breakfast I dug out our U-Pick buckets from a nearby farm and walked up to where Monkey was reading on the couch, shaking the buckets like castanets. “Who wants to go pick strawberries?”
“MEEEEEEEEE!” he shouted with delight. “Thank you, Mom!!” He scrambled up the stairs to get dressed, and I marveled once more at how the smallest things can make him so happy.
We headed out to the car and Monkey automatically went to the back door. “Come sit up front with me, baby,” I said. He’s only recently started sitting in front, and he forgets he’s allowed to. The long drive out to the farm was a lively one, Monkey regaling me with tales of Minecraft and Yu-Gi-Oh, and me pretending I couldn’t remember how to find the farm. (This is completely plausible, as I can get lost almost anywhere. I did know where we were going, though. It was just fun to listen to his helpful suggestions. “Maybe you should use the GPS? Maybe you should stop and ask for directions? Maybe you should ask a doctor if the map parts of your brain are missing?”)
It wasn’t crowded, and we happily set out to find a good couple of rows for picking. At first we continued chatting, but then Monkey became absorbed in the hunt for the perfect berries, and he moved down the row a ways and we each picked in companionable silence.
It was quiet for a while, and then two mothers with four small children in tow showed up and started picking near us. All four kids had pretentious yuppie names that you could just tell were spelled with an abundance of Ys, and the lone girlchild spent the entire outing agitating to go to Chuck E. Cheese afterward. The three boys alternated stomping on the plants, tormenting each other, and running away. The mothers discussed their upcoming tropical vacations and completely ignored the children until they became so rotten that they needed to be summoned by their full names, loudly, and threats such as “I am going to WEAR YOUR BOTTOM OUT” became necessary.
So that was… interesting.
I concentrated on my picking, and glanced over at Monkey, occasionally. I remembered taking him blueberry picking for the first time ever, when he was maybe 4 or 5. We went with friends, and he was completely enamored of the process, bringing me every single berry for admiration as he went along. Now he was a good 100 feet away, busy with the work of finding the best fruit, wearing a new pair of sneakers that fit me as well as him.
Eventually he trotted back towards me with a full bucket. “How’s this?” he asked, grinning widely.
“Nice work, buddy,” I said. “Looks like you’re almost done.” We finished up side-by-side, finding the last few berries we needed to heap both buckets up as full as we could.
The cacophony of the small children continued, and Monkey looked at them, then turned back to me. “I don’t think those kids are even picking,” he said. “Also they seem kind of wild.”
I choked on a small giggle. “Not everyone is so lucky to have a hard working picking partner,” I answered, fluffing his hair.
We picked up our bounty and headed back to the stand at the front to pay. I gave the money to Monkey.
“We have two gently rounded full buckets,” he said to the cashier, echoing what we’d been told to do on the way in, “and we brought our own buckets, so I believe that’s $10 each? Here’s $20. And thank you, your strawberries are delicious.”
The cashier smiled at him, thanked us for coming, and told us to enjoy. We walked back to the car, carefully set the buckets in a cooler, and headed homeward.
I checked my watch. “We have time before your appointment,” I told him. “Would you like to go out to lunch?” He nodded and bounced a little in his seat. “Tacos?” He cheered.
At our favorite Mexican hole-in-the-wall he continued his happy chatter, pausing only to stuff a couple of fish tacos into his mouth. I marveled, again, at this seemingly miraculous recovery, given how lethargic and cranky he’s been lately.
We had just enough time to go home and put the berries in the fridge before we had to go to his appointment.
At the ENT’s office, the staff all remembered him, and clucked and fussed over how much taller he is than when they last saw him. He smiled and chatted with them, and suffered through the taking of his vitals (no fever, good blood pressure) with good cheer. Once we were seated in the exam room, he commenced twirling around in his chair until the doctor arrived.
When the doc entered the room, he shook my hand and then Monkey’s, and asked Monkey, “So what’s going on?”
Monkey’s face fell for the first time all day. “I don’t know,” he said. “Mom says I don’t feel good?” (Fortunately, this doctor speaks Aspie, and did not immediately call DFCS to report me. Ha.)
I explained the mood shift, the obvious congestion, the persistent cough that seems to indicate endless post-nasal drip. We went over the medications he’s taking (our family is singlehandedly keeping the makers of Allegra and Flonase in business, I think), and the doctor checked his chart to remind himself of how long Monkey’s had his ear tubes. Then he said, “Okay, big guy, let’s have a look!”
He looked in his throat, his nose, and his ears. He listened to his chest with a stethoscope. And then he said to Monkey, “Well, I’m with your mom. I think you don’t feel so good.”
And that, Readers, is how we followed a jubilant morning of berry picking and a delightful lunch date by being informed that Monkey’s tubes have apparently been extruded (that sounds like fresh linguini should be flowing from his ears, I think) to where they are no longer functional, but they haven’t fallen out yet. So my darling boy has not just a raging sinus infection, but also a double ear infection!
Because of course he does. (Come see the amazing Aspie boy! Sick as a dog, with no recognition of such and no fever! He’s MAGIC!)
He also had another one of those fancy check-the-ear-membrane-functionality tests, which concluded that he can’t hear a damn thing. “His hearing is severely compromised at this point,” said the good doc.
“What?” said Monkey, trying not to grin.
“But his sense of humor is still intact,” the doctor noted.
Monkey wins a triple-course of Zithromax, after which we return to the ENT for a full complement of testing, at which time we’ll determine if he needs more surgery. I didn’t dare ask if we were just talking about a new set of tubes or if we were talking about possibly Roto-Rootering out his sinuses some more, because I was too busy wallowing in the whole “My kid is sick as a dog and it took me weeks to figure it out” guilt thing.
We swung by the pharmacy for his meds, then went home. “I’m sorry you haven’t been feeling good, sweetie,” I said once we got there.
“Don’t be sorry, I’m fine,” he said. “Can I have some strawberries? And then can I play Minecraft?”
I said yes to both, of course.