We’ve had a distressing past couple of days here. On Tuesday, I took Nathan with me to the gym and dropped him off in childcare. He was perfectly fine; he was energetic and happy to be there to play with some kids and the toys. After my workout a short time later, I came to pick him up. To my surprise, he was just laying down in the floor, which is uncharacteristic of him. I called him over to me, but when he got up, I noticed he had a hard time walking. He had a stumbling/lurching gait. I asked him if he was okay, and he said his tummy hurt. At first, I thought he had overexerted himself and was tired, and I attributed the tummy ache to being hungry since it was past his dinner time. When I gave him a hug, however, he felt hot.

As soon as we got home, I knew something was amiss. He normally loves to help me carry stuff inside, but this time he was too weak. He said he couldn’t do it. When we came in, I took his temperature and he had a fever of 102.1. And things just escalated from there. He kept complaining of his tummy hurting and barely ate any of his dinner. We gave him some medicine for the fever and decided to call the doctor if he wasn’t feeling better the next morning.

He woke up multiple times throughout the night and Paul and I would find him curled into a ball, crying that he was hurting. Morning could not come fast enough.

So the next day, it got worse. He was very weak and had no appetite, still had a fever, and his stomach pain was so bad that at times, he was unable to stand, walk, or sit up. All he could do was curl into a ball and cry, pleading with me to help him in between sobs. I called his pediatrician, but they couldn’t get him in until the next day. I felt this couldn’t wait, so I took him to a walk-in clinic.

By that time, the little guy was screaming in agony. The doctor said that she wouldn’t even waste my copay- he needed to go to the emergency room. She said the thing with young kids is that abdominal pain could be anything from a stomach bug to a bowel obstruction to appendicitis; since a youngster can’t communicate very well exactly what’s hurting and where, there was no way to know unless he had some tests run and she didn’t have that kind of equipment at the clinic.

So off to the hospital we went. I was a wreck. I tried in vain to be brave and not cry in front of Nathan, but I was so scared. With the way he was acting, I was certain it was something serious. Then I had flashes of horrible images race through my mind… I had flashes of us getting to the hospital only to discover he had to have emergency surgery for a bowel blockage, and then he got an infection with (MRSA, Staph, or some unknown pathogen), then the infection overtook his little body and he went into cardiac arrest, they tried to rescucitate him but failed… as these unwanted images flew through my mind, I became very nauseous. My heart dropped into my stomach and I had to consciously keep myself from puking. I felt like I ate a twenty pound brick and it was sitting right in the pit of my quivering stomach. I had to fight the urge to turn around and not take him to the hospital. At the very least, I was worried he would pick up another bug and come down with something else on top of what he had already.

So we arrived to the hospital and little man was feeling just awful. He had a fever of 104.0 and I couldn’t get him to calm down and stop crying. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait long before we were taken back to a room. After a while, we saw the doctor who ordered some x-rays to check out his tummy. Come to find out, she said he had nasty, fast-acting virus causing his fever and body aches, an inflamed (sore) throat, and was incredibly constipated, which was causing his severe stomach pain. I asked her if she was sure that’s what the problem was, and she said oh yeah. The x-rays showed he was clogged up with a ton of poop!

Apparently, constipation like that is quite common in kids his age. Especially when they’re potty training, because the child typically doesn’t want to take a break from playing to go use the potty. And as for the fever, that explains the weakness and trouble walking. The doctor said when a fever hits a child really fast (especially a high fever), it will definitely make the child act different. They could act confused, shaky, and even start hallucinating.

So when she told me his diagnosis, the relief I felt was exhiliarating. It felt like a thousand pounds had been lifted off my shoulders. I was so afraid it was something major by the agony he was in. Oh sweet, sweet relief. I can’t even adequately articulate just how sweet that relief felt.

So anyway, they gave him some medicine to help de-constipate him (is that even a word?) And it worked! With some medicine to control his fever & virus symptoms and his bowels cleaned out, he was like a whole new kid.

The next day, his fever broke and he was back to his normal little self. And let me tell you, he was as sweet as he could be. He kept wrapping his little arms around my neck, calling me his sweet little mommy. When we sat down for breakfast, he pulled my chair out from under the table and once I sat down, he even helped me scoot forward. After we finished, he helped clean off the table and then ceremoniously picked up his juice and told me he was going to drink it “for Mommy.” All day long, he sat with me, adorned me with kisses, and told me how much he loves me. I think he was making up for being a bit grumpy (understandably!) while he was sick. I was sad that my husband had to work and couldn’t experience this with me!

I tell you, being a parent is hard. Not just the parenting aspect of it, but all the worry it entails as well. Especially when your child’s hurting and there’s nothing you can do to help. I wouldn’t trade being a parent for the world, but sometimes I wish I could be Superwoman and save him from every little hurt. I’m willing to bet that most parents feel the same way.

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