When I can't get warm I like to play a round of Panic About the Future. I will make a rotten old person, I always think, because I hate being cold and it makes me cranky, and once I'm cold I can't get warm, and if I have trouble getting warm, not yet at the apex of my 30s, what will happen when I'm old? And frail? Being cold is never simply about being cold right now, it's about being cold in this moment and also being cold all the days of my life. It's the skull in the still life. I will make a miserable old person, I always think.
And then I reached up and rubbed my neck and realized my glands are swollen. Oh, I thought. I'm just sick.
That was last night.
So I expended the rest of my efforts last night into drinking extra tea, and summoning my most sorrowful melancholia, and bemoaning falling sick at the beginning of a full and busy work week. I drank tea this morning and asked the lovely husband to do the verbal child-wrangling to spare my sore throat and I checked on my cough drop supply. I planned for a dayquil-propped day of quiet, and then early to bed. I'd need to gather my rest. Tomorrow night the lovely husband won't be around, and I planned to sleep extra tonight in preparation.
If I was being sick, I was going to throw my whole self into being sick. I was going to be sick with purpose.
That was this morning.
It rained this morning, and you might think that doesn't matter but it does because it means the daycare kids don't go outside to play, they walk the length of our building. So midmorning today, while I was deliberately Working While Sick, tea freshly drunk and cough drop mid-suck, my phone rang. It was G's teacher: "we walked inside today so we're right downstairs. Can you come down? I want to show you something."
What she wanted to show me was: G won't walk.
He would fuss and scream and try to climb up to be held. If forced to navigate on his own, he'd drop to the floor and crawl. He'd lean on a wall if one was available, and take tentative steps. But he wouldn't just walk.
That's not my G-man. Something wasn't right.
So I called the pediatrician, and while appointment-wrangling, G fell asleep, a solid ninety minutes before nap time. Not right detail #2. But I let him sleep and picked him up after nap, where he lay against me, wouldn't let me put him down, and certainly wouldn't walk.
That was this afternoon.
The doctor looked at G and took my concerns seriously. I hate when he does that, because I want him to say, every time, "it's no big thing. You haven't considered this. You guys are fine. Get out of my office."
He didn't say that.
G's ears are fine. I was hoping for an ear infection. His lungs are fine, too, says the doctor who shooed his student from our exam room to another ("it's the end of the day and this is a high-decibel family"). G wouldn't walk in the hall, and when I tossed my keys to the other end, three times he crawled for them.
Now two pediatricians and the student were all watching.
"It's definitely something mechanical," said our guy. "Did he fall down the stairs / bounce off a trampoline / get sat on by his sister?" (He said L by name. He really knows us well.)
Probably a sprain. Maybe fluid on the hip joint. Could be nothing. Could resolve itself. Could mean more testing but let's watch him "before we draw blood and expose him to radiation and scan every bone in his lower half." Let's watch him. Here's who is on call over night; go straight to the ER if he develops a fever. Call in by 9am. We probably want to see him Thursday.
It's probably nothing. That's what 2.5 pediatricians said. But I've never gotten "go to the ER if" instructions before. I was really hoping for an ear infection.
My neck hurts, and my lower back, from carrying him so much today. My throat hurts, and most of all, that spot between my stomach and my heart where the bad feelings absorb all the light and the breathing forgets to happen.
We left the doctor's office and G fussed in the car. I didn't know: was he in pain? Or just upset at being alone in the car without a sister's hand to hold? He always holds one of their hands.
He played with them tenderly this evening, moving cautiously but gathering momentum as night closed in. Then, right before bed, he seemed suddenly again fine. He was running in the hall upstairs with L, playing a vigorous game of chase and door-slam and laughing so hard the breathing forgets to happen.
Maybe it's nothing. I spent all day worrying it was the beginning of Something. We won't know except by watching, and my throat still hurts, but I'm not going to worry about being old and frail. When I'm old (and cold), I'm going to remember that none of us was frail.
All day I thought it was the beginning of an awful Something. And then tonight I felt pretty confident it was nothing. And now he's asleep, and I don't know.