Vacation vignette, the second

75th Street Urgent Medical Care Center, 12:36 a.m. I held a crying preschooler in my lap, and I fought the urge to cry myself. This is vacation! Nobody is supposed to be sick on vacation! But the pain in his ear, pain that came on in a matter of a few hours, was too much for either of us to bear. He refused the ibuprofen I tried to give him at the apartment, but couldn't get to sleep. I rocked him, back and forth in my lap, the smell of salt and sunscreen lingering in his hair even though he'd had a bath earlier that day. "No no no," he said, "I wanna go. I don't want the doctor! My ear no hurt! Is OK!" He's never been scared of the doctor before, but this doctor doesn't have a Lego set in the lobby, or picture books in the exam room. The other patrons in the waiting room look at me with sympathy, thankfully, not irritation. The nurse takes us back to the exam room. He asks for DS's weight, in anticipation of a prescription for amoxicillin being written. He rolls a fancy thermometer of my baby's forehead, trying to get reading as quickly as possible. The gadget fails to interest my usually curious boy, another sign that things are just not right. The doctor arrives, takes a look and confirms what DH and I had already guessed- it's an ear infection. My mommy guilt kicks into overdrive. How could I have not seen the signs earlier? How did I let it get to a point where he was so exhausted he couldn't speak coherantly, yet so unable to sleep for more than 15 minutes at a time? The doctor puts drops into the afflicted ear, to numb the pain and help dry up the excess fluid. I hold DS's hands to keep him from wiping the medicine out. Once it has soaked in, we return to the waiting room to...well, wait. For some antibiotic, and paperwork to submit to the insurance company for reimbursement. Feeling betrayed by the monster-mom who subjected him to poking and prodding, who would not let him go back to the apartment as he requested, he insists on sitting alone. Head propped on his hand, he dozes off, only to stir when I pick him up to take him back to the car. My cell phone rings as I reach for it to call DH with an update. It is DH, asking for an update. He has been waiting at the apartment, waiting up for me to come back. I tell him the verdict, and say I will be back soon. There are a few people walking along the sidewalks (stumbling slightly as they leave the beach bars,), but almost no cars. It's the quietest I've ever seen the town in all the years I've gone on vacation there. My phone rings again. I see it is my dad, and I assume that he has spoken with DH. "Karen," he says, concerned, "where is your car?" My parents are staying a few floors above where we are, and a glance into the parking lot at my empty space panicked him some. I tell him of DS's increased pain, of the trip to the urgent care facility. He realizes that the possiblity of a stolen car seems like less of a worry than it did a few moments earlier. He vows to spoil DS a bit more than normal when the new day dawns (hardly possible, in my opinion) and we ring off. Back at the apartment, the drops have done their work, and we have a sleeping boy for a few solid hours. As I collapse into bed myself, I let my guard down and cry myself to sleep. As the family wakes, later than normal but still early, he is not the same boy who curled into his pillow in the wee hours. He takes his medicine without incident, and is primed to bug his sister, and fight over the TV, and ask when he can see his Grandy and Gramma. As the day goes on, all the grown ups keep asking how he feels, how his ear is. He is annoyed at the intrusion. "I fine," he says, "My ear no hurt at all." And he rolls his eyes and changes the subject.


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Who's Who

    Hubby- aka DH My husband since 1995. He is the head of the band department at a college prep school, and dabbles as a wanna-be pop star.

    The Princess- aka DD. Third grader at the local parochial school. Loves butterlies, sparkly things, the color purple and has recently developed a crush on one of the twins from "The Suite Life of Zach and Cody". Is ready for her teenage years, having already perfected her exasperated sigh and dramatic eye-roll.

    Hoss- aka DS1. Kindergartener and resident spirited child. His aunt likes to call him "the evil genius" because of his penchant for letting a lack of intellectual stimulation lead him into mischief. Likes trucks, sports, building things and burping. His current favorite word is "underwear."

    Lil Joe- aka DS2. Born in 2003. Doesn't say much we can understand, but has mastered the important stuff ("eat!", "Wash hands!", "Want chocolate ones!", "Hockey game!") Likes to push buttons, much to the consternation of whoever is trying to watch a DVD. Firmly refuses to use the potty, despite evidence that he is physically ready to be out of diapers, indicating a level of stubborn that eclipses even that of his parents and siblings.

    Me? I'm the Mama. That's all you need to know.

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