Hold on to your liver!

By Mir
May 24, 2017

Honestly, I have a million things just from the last week… er… crap… week BEFORE last… that I am still going to tell you about. Pinky swear. I totally intended to get RIGHT back to you on all of that after I told you about the Toepocalypse. Because we had our familyversary! And it’s been TEN YEARS, which is a really long time, and kind of a big deal, and also we all got each other very thoughtful gifts, some of which I will tell you about another time, but I will tell you that what I got Otto was that I very super-sneakily planned a little vacation for us. And by “us” I mean “just me and Otto,” because despite it being our FAMILYversary, Otto and I haven’t had a just-us vacation in… well, ever, seems like. And here I am with two grown (or nearly grown) children at home who can both 1) take care of themselves, 2) drive (!!!) (not that Monkey has driven more than once since getting his license, you understand), and 3) take care of the dogs. I could plan a whole trip and then just spring it on my husband, and then we could just GO in just two short weeks—this week, that is, two weeks after the reveal—which was one of the few totally clear weeks on the calendar this summer.

Otto was, indeed, surprised and touched. I was so excited! I really LIKE that guy and spending a few days away with him was going to be the best.

I mean, it still is. When we go. Sometime. But not this week (SUPPOSED TO BE ON VACATION RIGHT NOW, NOT AT ALL BITTER), because this week turned out to be the wrong week for a vacation.

Last week—the week after the familyversary, but the week before the supposed-to-be-trip—was graduation week. Everything was counting down to Monkey’s graduation, and my parents were slated to come into town on Thursday, and on Wednesday night—of course, of course the day before their arrival—Chickadee was holed up in her room after passing on dinner, and Otto and I were watching TV before going to bed, and around 9:30 I texted my daughter (yeah, I’m lazy) and suggested she come eat something, and she texted back, “Can you come take my temperature?”

Wellllllllllll I kind of rolled my eyes and went looking for the thermometer. Chickadee has been known to have a Man Cold or two, y’all. And we’d spent most of the day together in Atlanta (oh hey, that’s another story, too) and she was FINE. I went upstairs with the thermometer and walked into her room and immediately wanted to punch myself in the face. Her color was off and she was burning up.

“I think I have the flu,” she croaked. “My legs hurt. My eyes hurt. Everything hurts.”

Woooooonderful. Do you know what is more pitiful than a sick child? That’s right! A sick 19-year-old! She really felt awful and it was, by now, too late to do much of anything, so I tried to make her comfortable and told her we’d go to the doctor in the morning if she still felt bad.

When I went to check on her the next morning around 6:00, she’d already been awake for hours. She was glassy-eyed and hot. I called the pediatrician, mentally kicking myself for having forgotten to get her registered with an adult doctor either before she left for college or while she was gone. Oops! But the ped’s office said we should bring her in. And then they called me right back to scold me about how she’d already had her “exit appointment” and I needed to find her a new doctor. “Okay, cool, sure, absolutely,” I said, “But she appears to have the flu and right now, according to the insurance, you’re her doctor. So may I please bring her in?” They said I could, but that this would be the last time because they didn’t even have her file anymore. Fine.

On the way to the pediatrician, I kept thinking about how Monkey was graduating in a couple of days and we had a party planned and my parents—while healthy and spry, sure—aren’t as young as they used to be, and what the HELL was I supposed to do with a teenager who has the flu in a houseful of people? (FORESHADOWING!)

She got checked in and poked and prodded and then came the flu test, itself, wherein she flinched away from the Nose Q-Tip Of Doom and yelled and carried on so, it appeared to me that they’d barely even swabbed her. So when they came back to say the test was negative, it’s not flu, I was skeptical. But okay.

The doctor came in and said that maybe she had a sinus infection? Or mycoplasma? And did we want antibiotics in the hopes that the lingering cold she’d come home with had just blossomed into some weird secondary infection? We accepted the Z-pack, even though it seemed unlikely. Chickie was sick enough by the time we left there that I took her home BEFORE going to the pharmacy. I returned with the meds and gave her the first dose, promising her that she’d feel better soon.

My folks arrived, and were instructed to avoid their granddaughter at all costs. (Relatively simple, at that time, because she was upstairs in bed.) She declined to join us for dinner. Right around the time we were thinking about turning in, Chickadee stumbled down the stairs and asked me to make her an egg. Just one. I did, and she ate about… half of it. And everyone went to bed.

I had juuuust about fallen asleep when Chickadee threw up that half an egg. Loudly. And I ran upstairs, and I like to think I was helpful (well, as helpful as an emetophobic who is both trying to soothe you AND gagging can be…), but I can tell you that there is no amount of helpful that is useful when you’re embarking on an entire night of puking your guts out and hallucinating from a high fever. She finally settled in the wee hours, and I told Otto I was just going to let her sleep as long as she could and then take her to Urgent Care, because 1) the pediatrician said we couldn’t go back and 2) she was obviously still very, very sick.

Once she woke up, I was able to get her into the car, but by the time we got to Urgent Care, she couldn’t even stand. And although she was completely empty, she couldn’t stop dry heaving, either. I got her into a wheelchair and inside, and the doctor (same doctor I’d seen less than a week earlier about my toe; “How’s your foot, by the way?”) took one look at her and said we needed to go to the hospital. “Can you drive her or should I call an ambulance?” I drove her. I had to unload her into a wheelchair and hand her off to a stranger so I could go park, and by the time I got back, she was already in triage. Her temperature was almost 104.

“She has the flu,” I told them, as they hooked her up to an IV. “I mean, she had a swab yesterday and it was negative, but it must be the flu, right? I think they didn’t get a good sample.” They listened and nodded and poked and prodded and did a repeat flu swab, this time in BOTH nostrils, and deep, and although she could barely move by this point, she shrieked and thrashed and I thought, well, okay, this is awful, but once they can confirm that it’s the flu, we’ll get Tamiflu, and she’ll start feeling better.

A nurse came in a short while later to tell us that the test was still negative; it was not the flu.

I heard a couple of doctors outside her room debating whether or not to go straight to a lumbar puncture.

They came and took blood, and gave her a dose of anti-nausea medication. It didn’t work, so a little while later, they gave her a second dose. They hung a second bag of fluid. Then they came back and took more blood. And once she hadn’t thrown up for, like, ten straight minutes, they gave her some Motrin, and she kept it down.

About an hour later, they came back to tell us she has mono. Huh. I always thought mono was “Oh, where is my fainting couch, I feel tired and gross,” more than “Look out, I have to hurl but I can’t move.” She got some more nausea meds and some Tylenol, and about half an hour after that, she suddenly became chatty. I was treated to an earful about… everything. Lots of things I didn’t know. (She was able to tell me the next day that she’d honestly assumed she was dying, she felt so awful, and she didn’t want to die with any secrets between us. I found this touching, albeit morbid and somewhat twisted.)

Once she was hydrated and her temperature was down to a completely uninteresting 100 degrees or so, they sent us home. She had a prescription for dissolving anti-nausea meds and they said to just follow up with her regular doctor in a week. Okay, that’s fine, we said. We went home and told everyone not to lick her or make out with her, but felt relieved that she wasn’t going to give everyone the flu.

That was Friday night, and graduation was on Saturday. The plan was for her to STAY HOME AND REST, but she was feeling a little better and wouldn’t hear of it. “I’m going,” she said, ready to go to the mat if we argued. “This is my brother’s graduation and I am not missing it, even if I have to crawl there.” She walked a little slower than normal, but she was there. She leaned heavily on her pal who’d come to visit (ostensibly to stay with her while we went to graduation, but who now was at graduation with us, acting as a headrest and support), and seemed pretty pale, but it was all fine.

Back at the house that evening, she began sort of… deteriorating. Despite regular rotation of Motrin and Tylenol, her fever crept back up. Despite regular doses of the nausea med, she couldn’t eat anything. She couldn’t drink much. We had a party scheduled for the next day. Should we cancel it? No no no, she insisted. Have the party. I’ll just sleep if I need to.

It was another rough night, and again she settled down a little in the morning, and so was tucked into my bed, dozing, when friends started showing up to celebrate with Monkey. I would put out food and get drinks and then dart back into the bedroom to check on her periodically, and once she woke up, she asked for a popsicle, which I was happy to provide. But then within about an hour, she was curled up with a bucket, again, and by the time the last guest left, she was just lying there crying, in-between dry heaves.

Back to the ER! Only this time I was able to say, “Look, here’s what happened two days ago, what do we do now?” And on Sunday, the answer to “What do we do now?” was “We admit her to the hospital, probably just for a day.”

Yep. Well! It’s now Wednesday night, as I write this, and we’re still here. It turns out that mono is REALLY FUCKING TERRIBLE. Like, the absolute WORST. For real. It can give you sky-high fevers and make you throw up for hours and cause awful, migraine-like headaches and—AND!—(because that’s not enough, apparently) it can screw up your liver pretty badly. They’ve been testing Chickadee’s liver enzymes every day and every day they say, “Oh, your levels are going the wrong way, but this will probably be trending in the right direction tomorrow, and then you can go home,” and then the next day, they say the same thing. Infectious Disease has been here to make sure she doesn’t have anything else, and Neuro has been here several times about the headaches (finally deemed to be caused by—get this—straining her occipital nerve with constant vomiting). The med that stopped her vomiting in the ER the first time stopped working and they had to do some experimenting to find something else that worked. Once they got that under control, she started with the horrible headaches, and the first med they tried didn’t work at all, the second one gave her nightmares, and the third one works like a charm (yay!) but can be hard on your liver (whoops) so they’re trying to wean her off of it to get a clearer picture of the liver situation. Both her spleen and her liver are swollen and painful, and once they FINALLY got her hydrated for real, the lymph nodes in her neck puffed up like freakin’ balloons, and now her throat is sore.

Did I mention mono is terrible? IT IS TERRIBLE. [Bright side: two whole semesters of me telling her that her sleep hygiene and awful dietary choices are the reason why she gets sick all the time while being waved away and eyerolled-at have given way to “IF I EVER FEEL BETTER I AM GOING TO BE SO MUCH HEALTHIER, I SWEAR, I NEVER WANT TO BE SICK LIKE THIS EVER AGAIN.”]

Today she was awake most of the day (progress), managed to sit for a shower with help (progress!), ate a few bites of solid food at every meal (progress!!), and even took a brief stroll down the hall with me (progress!!!). I think/hope/have-fingers-crossed that tomorrow she really will, finally, be coming home. Depending on the liver stuff. And then we have to hope that without a 24/7 IV we can keep her stable.

(So, um, yeah. Hence the trip cancelation. ALSO: If she didn’t want us to go on vacation without her, she could’ve just SAID so. Drama queen.)

But hey, she didn’t miss her brother’s graduation. She may have an inflamed liver, but it didn’t touch her iron will. That’s my girl!


  1. Susie

    Somehow these kids never let you do things small or subtle-like, do they? Strength, mama. Y’all got this.

    • Mir

      Yeah, subtle is not really part of their vocabulary. ;)

  2. laura

    Sending healthy healing vibes for her liver and all her other parts too.

    PS: I hear vacations with your spouse are really, really overrated.

  3. Melinda

    I hope your girl is feeling much, much better soon. And that you and Otto find time to actually take that vacation soon-ish. It sounds like you need it! Hope you’re getting some sleep. And good coffee.

  4. JennyA

    First of all: TEN YEARS? That means I’ve been lurking around and VERY occasionally emailing with you about cookies for over a decade. #old

    Secondly: as I was reading, I was thinkin, “Mono. It’s mono.” But only because a few years ago, I, a grown-ass 36-year-old adult, divorced and living alone, called my Mom to trek across town to pick up my dog for a few days because I was so sick and weak, and by the time she got there I was curled up on the floor in the bathroom, shivering and dry-heaving and incoherent. She bundled me straight to the ER. Mono! *party emoji* — it was about a week before Christmas, so I ended up on Christmas Day sitting down to the fancy dinner table and eating white rice while everyone else had the usual gluttonous feast. I’ve never been so exhausted for so long in my life.

    None of that is helpful to you, I realize, but I feel your pain — or rather, I guess I feel Chickie’s pain and yours sympathetically. I had NO IDEA what “real mono” was like. She’ll pull through! But it’ll take a while. (She said, vert darkly.)

  5. kate in mi

    Mono is completely shitty. I had it, and scared my parents to death. Pain, fevers, random swellings, basic “I wish I could just be unconscious. Or dead? Or unconscious.”
    HOWEVER, the truly shittiest part of mono doesn’t last forever. After that, it’s just lots of Netflix and popsicles.

    • Puky

      I’ve never had to deal with mono, but it really sounds awful!

  6. diane

    Oh my heavens!! I am glad she is stable & I hope she gets to go home soon. Mono can be so weird–I only knew I had it because my tonsils swelled up so bad I couldn’t swallow & had to get steroid shots. They figured I had tonsillitis but since I was in college they did a mono test *just* to rule it out. Go figure. 🙄

  7. Therese

    Mono is a lot more serious than people realize. Ask me how I know. My 18-year-old daughter passed away when her spleen ruptured during a bout of mono. I tell anyone with mono to wrap themselves in bubble wrap and take extra special care of themselves. Glad Chickie is coming around.

  8. Navhelowife

    Like a responder above…I can’t believe I’ve been reading you longer than 10 years. I remember your move down south, and all sorts of stuff.
    And I am so sorry she has mono. Can I chime in with some unasked for advice? Don’t let her do too much too soon. Mono takes a long while to recover from. I had a similar virus (long story) in college, and even now if I get too tired from life, the dizziness and fatigue return – different from just tired-ness.
    Sending best wishes to all of you.

  9. Teresa

    Hoping the worst has passed and a full recovery is soon under way. Happy Familyversary, and best wishes for many, many more!

  10. Lauren

    Poor girl! She doesn’t do anything by halves, huh? Hope she’s on the mend really soon.

  11. Brandi

    Poor girl.
    Mono hits people differently. My husband literally collapsed and called his mother (at 20, he was already a PhD student at this time and living on his own) ‘Come get me. I can’t move’

    Hopefully she feels better soon! Although I have to warn you it took my husband a year to get back to normal. :(

  12. Jenny

    Bless her heart – and yours! Mono is the devil…I had it when I was 13. I didn’t throw up as much as Chickadee, but the high fever and the not being able to move and the sore throat are very familiar. I did vomit endlessly when I was pregnant with my daughter, though. Hyperemesis is also the devil.

    I hope Chickadee gets to go home soon and you can take that adults-only vacation!

  13. Em

    I’m sure your doctors have this under control, but after a very scary experience with my sister a couple of years ago, make sure they’ve checked that it’s not an adrenal crisis. Looks like the flu, but nothing works until they get hydrocortisone. We came close to losing my sister, and the doctor just thought she had the flu.

  14. Heidi T

    My daughter was just diagnosed with mono on Monday – it’s been a crappy week and she is only in 8th grade so is missing school/dance/everything because she doesn’t feel good, but thankfully no fever.

  15. liz

    Sending love and hugs to you and your family. YIKES.

  16. Jeanie

    Oh, Chickie! So very sorry you feel awful. I hope you’re home soon and feelin’ fine again. Sorry you had to take care of a sickie instead of go on vacation, Mir. Sometimes life sucks.

  17. Vickie

    Same thing happened to me, a zillion years ago, right after I came home after my freshman year of college. Just as sick. Hospitalized. So sick.

    Take it easy and slow with her. It took me the rest of the summer to recover and I almost did not get to go back to college in the fall.

  18. Heather

    Wow! First of all 10 YEARS?! Congratulations!!! It seems like just yesterday I was reading about you & Otto getting married, where has the time gone?! Now onto Chickadee, I had mono when I was 16 & it was AWFUL. I have a really pretty scar from where they had to remove my spleen due to it. IT WAS AWFUL & I can tell you that dying would feel better than suffering from it. Mono SUUUUUCKS in the worst way. If you all are not aware of this already she at least needs to know, once you contact mono you are a carrier of it for life. That means that she can have it but not have it, she can be completely healthy but pass it to someone else by kissing or someone drinking after her. Again it SUUUUCKS. I hope she gets well very soon!

  19. Brigitte Boyce

    I’m reading this belatedly, so am happy to know Chickie is home to start the long (looooong) road to recovery.
    But it has also belatedly sunken in, to me . . . she’s already done with college year number one! Didn’t you JUST send her!?

    • Mir

      Right?? And now they’re both gonna be at college. STAHHHHP.

  20. Meg

    Ugh. So sorry she is so sick and that your missed your trip. Hope she is home or on her way and that she is feeling well soon (and that Monkey stays well).

  21. liz

    Hoping that the lack of an update is because Chickie is doing well and needing your attention as she goes through convalescence, and not that she is still doing poorly.

    Sending love and hugs either way.

Things I Might Once Have Said


Quick Retail Therapy

Pin It on Pinterest