So this morning, right after I got to work, I returned from the restroom to see the school had called, and I figured it was about E, who had an engorged tick on his head last weekend while I was off whooping it up in Connecticut, and we were practicing "watchful waiting" (as advised by one of my co-whoopers who happens to be a nurse practitioner) until this weekend, when the bite spot started swelling up and looking red and hurting, and E developed that droopy-eyed low-energy appearance of a kid who just feels off, and we figured this was what we were watching and waiting for, so I called the doctor and made an appointment for 1:00. Only after I hung up did I listen to the voicemail and learn that M had jabbed a lead from his new mechanical pencil under his right thumb nail and that it hurt so he threw up. We waited for the school nurse to come in from one of the other two (or is it four?) schools she covers and when she wasn't able to get it out, I called the doctor back, only this time it took an hour to get through to anyone and they had no appointments and suggested I go to the ER.
So I left work and picked up both boys. By now it was 11:30 and it seemed unlikely that we would be able to get through the urgent care center fast enough to get to E's appointment in time, and M looked perfectly fine and healthy, except for a thin gray line under his fingernail, and as I was raised in the "Let's wait and see how you feel Thursday," school of healthcare, as well as in the belief that warm salt water is the cure for all flesh wounds, I handed M a tupperware of just that elixir, headed into town to feed both boys and run a few errands before E's appointment, where of course the doctor waffled a bit, because no one knows about Lime disease, really, but it was the right incubation period, and he does have a bit of a fever, but then again it's hard to tell if it's a bullseye or just red, what with all the hair in the way, and do you want to take chances with a disease of not entirely clear consequences and possibly lifelong effects or take chances with an antibiotic? Three weeks of three times-a-day antibiotic?
I had just recently read this post, and it did make me pause. While I'm not terrified of medicine, or even red dye number whatever, I do try to minimize my children's exposure to both--I always buy dye-free ibuprofen and give them honey (or ginger syrup) rather than cherry-red cough syrup. On the other hand, lifelong debilitating disease...yikes. The doctor and I agreed we should treat him. He was very thorough in looking up the recommendations and dosage on the computer (he recently practiced in the city and had little experience w/ tickborne illness; but he was also concurrently going through something very similar regarding his own young son) I appreciated his honesty (a doctor who can say "I don't know" is somehow much more reassuring than one who has all the answers) and his willingness to broach all sides of the issue. E has never had to take antibiotics before (Z did once for pneumonia and M for an ear infection; otherwise we've been very lucky), and I figure of all the times to rely on Western medicine, this is one.
By the time we were done, M did not want to go to urgent care, and I found the prospect increasingly ridiculous, so we picked Z up from daycare, headed home, M returned to the salt water soak and all three boys zoned out in front of the TV in a rare breaking of the "no screen on school nights" rule. Later, after C came home, he extracted the lead (which was a good 5/8 inch long) using--wait for it--a razor blade. It was stomach-turning, but it worked and M immediately headed off to practice guitar.
Here's the most terrible thing about this whole story: for the last week or so I had been thinking, nay, hoping, that if one of the kids got sick, I could take a day off and get some of the millions of things done that are pressing down on me like an ice sheet grinding away at a mountain. And now I have one kid with (possibly) Lime disease and another with a self-inflicted stab wound. And I had to take most of a sick day. And I didn't get one blasted thing done. I hate the phrase "careful what you wish for" because I detest cliches in all forms, but really that one couldn't be more true, could it?
ANYWAY, today is my four-year blog anniversary, if you can believe that (what I can't believe is whatever possessed me to think Thanksgiving week would be a good time to start a blog??). I just went back and saw that first post just to check the date, and it brought back that great big sense of inadequacy that dogged me then (and now), especially when I viewed my own life in comparison others' lives in blogtopia. I wanted this to be a little space where I kept it real--talked about the very unperfect side of motherhood. I hope I've accomplished this in some small way. I do know that I've learned to slow down and appreciate the little things, to pay attention and take pleasure in moments that, while far from perfect (or blogtopian) and wonderful in their own way. I have, on occasion, been accused of making my life look perfect, which it is not, and that is not my intention (so please come back and read this post if that thought ever strikes you!). Thanks for sharing this journey with me, whether you've been here since the beginning, or have just popped in for a visit.
As a small token of thanks, I have to give away to one reader a signed copy of The Beautiful One Has Come, a collection of short stories by Suzanne Kamata, who was one of my very first writing teachers several years ago. I won the book on a giveaway on Suzanne's blog Gaijin Mama a few months ago, and now I want to pass it on to another reader who might enjoy it as much as I did. Suzanne is an ex-pat living in Japan with her Japanese husband and bicultural twin children, one of whom is deaf and in a wheel chair. Many of Suzanne's stories explore the nuances of life as an American in Japan, as a mother of bicultural children, and as a mother of a disabled child. Once you've read The Beautiful One, I hope you check out Suzanne's novel Losing Kei and the anthology of essays about mothering across cultures, Call Me Okaasan.
With the book, I'll throw in some chocolate and something small and handmade. So please leave a comment here between now and next Monday (November 28) telling me about a good book or a bad Monday (and your email address so I can contact you if you win). Thanks and good luck!