Last night Zachary had a fever. I knew it was Zachary before he got to my room. I could tell by his movements, the pace, the number of steps it took him to reach my room. In his faintest sigh, I knew it was him. I know my children. When he got to my room he proceeded to tell me that he had had a bad dream. It had something to do with Tom chasing Jerry and a Lego ninjago. But he was also as flushed as he could be. He undoubtedly had spiked a high fever sometime between 7:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. So I gave him some ibuprofen, stripped him down to his underwear, and he fell back to sleep comfortably in my bed.
This morning the fever returned, so I called the doctor. I was worried because Josiah had had scarlet fever about 2 months ago, and I was concerned that Zacahry could have strep. Which can lead to scarlet fever, which, untreated, can lead to rheumatic fever, which can be fatal. And you know how I go straight to worst case scenario.
The doctor worked him in. When I arrived to the doctor the desk clerk began to go through his chart.
“Looks like we need you to update his chart. It’s been a while since he’s been in.”
“Ok.” I replied. Trying to fill out the sheet while holding my almost 4-year-old baby whose fever had begun to spike again.
“When did Zachary come in last?”
“Oh, probably last year for his checkup.”
“Mmmm…..no. I don’t see any record of that.”
Ok, I thought.
“It doesn’t look like he’s been here since his 18 month checkup.”
“That’s not right, we’re here all the time.” I said, sure she was wrong.
“Well…”she said, eyebrows all the way up into her hairline shaking her head…(she might as well had had her right index finger on top of her left making a sweeping motion at me) “It looks like he’s really overdue for his shots and everything.”
I was dumb-founded. I cannot believe (still having a hard time wrapping my mind around this) that I have forgotten to bring my son for his checkups. I remember when we brought Nolan for his last checkup the doctor said, “It is really unnecessary for you to keep bringing him for his yearly checkups. Unless he needs one for sports, or you are concerned, he won’t need a physical until age 10.” At Josiah’s last physical my boys caused such an outpouring of pity from the staff (Josiah didn’t cry when he got his shots, but when the doctor attempted to remove his wart, he wasn’t prepared and was horrified. After the doctor left, they all broke into tears. Josiah for the experience and Nolan and Zachary because Josiah was upset.) It was so pitiful 2 nurses escorted the 3 boys back to the ‘prize vault’ reserved for only very serious calamities. They let each child pick out 2 toys.
Stitches, ear infections, coughs, fevers, rashes…. Surely one of these many memories of this office in my head is from a checkup for Zachary?!? I immediately walked back up to the front desk and said, “Can you check your other office? Maybe the records are there?”
“No,” she said, “I’ve already checked there.”
Now, on the way back to the examination room, I diagnosed him with all of the terrible diseases that immunizations prevent. I was 100% sure he had measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, and chicken pox. Upon entering the room, I promptly broke into tears. I immediately called Michael.
“Guess what WE’VE done????? We haven’t taken Zachary for a checkup in 2.5 years!!” I said sobbing.
You have to understand that me trying to pin this on Michael would be like him pinning dirty oil in my car on me. I don’t worry about the oil in the cars, he does. He doesn’t make doctors’ appointments. I do. He doesn’t think about it, because I do.
I guess I forgot.
Now, if I had had a few more minutes, I would have called every employer and committee to which I have a responsibility and quit immediately. Clearly, I cannot manage everything so I will quit everything and just try to meet my children’s basic needs, for crying out loud. Like getting their immunizations. I mean….I am a social worker! I have explained the importance of immunizations to parents of neglected children and students of child development. I know kids need their shots!
But I didn’t have enough time. To call and quit everything that is. Michael had just enough time to firmly say, “You are a good mom, Christi Anna,” when the doctor walked in.
So there I was holding my almost asleep almost 4-year-old baby, crying and feeling awful when the doctor walked in.
And I have a black eye.
Last week, I leaned down to tell Zachary something, and out of nowhere, Josiah ran through and jumped up. The back of his hard head hit the front of mine. He didn’t feel it. I cried. And I think I may have had a concussion. Michael thinks that’s a bit of a stretch…but it hurt. Anyway, I have a horrible black/purple/green bruise that the best makeup cannot cover.
That’s the picture. Me with a black eye, crying, holding my feverish little boy who hasn’t been for a checkup in …..awhile.
“Honey, are you ok?” she asked, looking genuinely concerned.
“Yes, I’m fine. I just didn’t realize we were behind on his shots and physicals. I feel like I am here all the time. I have 3 boys. We are always in here.”
“Well, lets take a look…..oh, see you are only 2 shots behind. That is not a big deal, honey. Not a big deal at all.”
“Um hum” I mustered, wanting to hug her, but thinking it was probably a little inappropriate.
After the very gracious doctor examined him, and cultured him, and took a blood sample, it turns out Zachary has something viral, nothing to be alarmed about. He needs fluids and rest.
He was so adorable when he got home. Whenever the kids are sick I put a TV tray by the couch, and let them drink their fluids in the living room. They love the special treatment. Sometimes they ask for that when they scrape their knee.
“Mom, I fell down, can you fix up the little table and give me some Gatorade while I watch TV?”
Anyway…it took me a considerable amount of time after the doctor’s visit to gain a little perspective on this. I mean, I was feeling like quite a failure. I called Michael, my mother, and 2 friends who all reassured me that Zachary was fine and that he was certainly not a neglected child. I needed to hear that from all four of them. One of my friends even told me she was sure that her son got all of his shots 2 weeks before kindergarten. I love her.
Yes, in the scheme of things, this wasn’t a huge deal. He is strong and healthy and smart and immunized, or will be, as of Monday.
He has an appointment scheduled for 10:30 a.m.