I’ve heard that people are stockpiling toilet paper. I saw an article online about how to make your own hand sanitizer. I know enough to know that I don’t understand viruses and the way they work enough to have opinions or to truly question what I am told by doctors. But as a mom of 5 I am well aware that Coronavirus or not, this is the time of year for germs. Kids are covered in them. We try to brace ourselves and to prep by toughing through vaccinations and arming our children’s classrooms with hand soaps and Clorox wipes. But making it through the winter without an illness storming through your front door is a fairy tale that happens in homes with less people, less children. And so, when the headache came home last week, I braced myself. The germs had arrived.
It seems like every year I forget which of my kids can be trusted when they say they don’t feel well. And which ones I need to wait for tears. Last Thursday it was one of the tough ones. To be completely honest our little Lily, our “goat”, has always been tough. When she was a baby I legitimately worried that she might have a nerve disorder that kept her from appropriately feeling pain. She would climb high and fall big and hop right up with an angry, determined look on her face, and just keep going. She was the personification of the Shakespearean quote “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” But last Thursday she was headache-y. I knew well enough to keep her home for the following day. And then in true Lily form she slept it off and was back to good on Saturday morning.
On Monday a different sort of kid came home. My BooBoo was in tears straight from the bus because her throat hurt. The tears were an immediate give away. We needed to head to the strep throat test ASAP. For good measure I brought Lily along. Just to be on the safe side.
Since it was a Monday evening the closest, quickest way to get a strep culture done was to hit the local Minute Clinic. I got an appointment and we arrived 15 minutes early (surprising to no one who knows me.) Even though we had appointments (one for each girl) I knew we were going to be there awhile because there was a man already waiting to be seen. I started to get nervous about having the girls around other people and touching things in the CVS while we waited, so I tried to contain them to the few chairs by the Minute Clinic room. We waited for an hour. When we were eventually called back to the room I had both girls with me (obviously) plus the Nurse Practitioner and a Student Doctor who was helping with the transcribing into the computer during the appointment. So basically there were 5 people in a space about the size of a handicapped bathroom. There were no windows and the door was shut tight, and I was feeling a little claustrophobic.
I explained why we were there and the NP started her exam of my older daughter. They are both little blond girls, and honestly about the same size, so they are mistaken for each other on a regular basis. As the NP tried to tell the man transcribing about each girl she went back and forth between calling them the right name and the wrong name. They tried to be patient. She also tried to make small talk with the girls. Lily is good at such situations, but Grace was agitated and tired from sitting still for the past hour, so she was not so agreeable. The NP raised her voice to tell Grace to settle down a few times. She was using a lot of little phrases that didn’t make sense to little girls, so Grace kept asking me what she said and then giving her answer back to me. The woman sternly said to her “Your mother knows these things. I am the one asking you.” Grace is 7. At this point we were just waiting on the computer work to be done because the strep tests had come back positive for both girls. Everyone was ready for our appointment time to be over.
As we waited for our prescriptions to be ready, the girls and I laughed about their paperwork (Lily was listed at 3’2″ tall. I’m not entirely sure where the math failure was there…but it made us giggle.) We were happy to be out of that office and the girls were happy they got to miss school the next day. It wasn’t until the following morning, when I was at our pediatrician’s office with my 4 year old after a rough night of sleep and complaining about his head aching that I felt the full struggle of germ season with 5 kids. It would be just the most amazing thing ever if pediatrician appointments were set up for families with multiple kids. What if I could have spent one trip to the waiting room (and all the new germ exposure that brings) and had all 5 kids tested for strep at the same time? We would have exposed fewer people to the germs we brought in and solved the problem sooner. I also was reminded of why I love Twin City Pediatrics and the advantage of seeing our pediatrician over a CVS trip. The care is different. The patience with my children is different. The environment is different. And also our doctor was thoughtful enough to ask about what day we were flying for our trip. When she realized it would be during the course of the kids’ antibiotics she wrote their prescriptions for chew-able rather than liquids. Saving me the hassle of flying with liquids and the potential chaos of trying to keep a pharmacy’s worth of amoxicillin at cool temperatures while we flew across the country. I was extra thankful for a doctor who was also a mom and could relate to my real world!
Now we are to the end of the week, and I have one child (allergic to amoxicillin) who has finished her full course of antibiotics and two more who are well on their way to completion. I have upgraded my first aid kit for the trip with chew-able Tylenol (because I would not have otherwise considered this until it was too late to adjust!) and we are all feeling much healthier for our adventure. We plan to spend the bulk of our trip outdoors, and hopefully away from crowds, as we explore our country’s National Parks. And we will also be washing our hands. As always. Because this is germ season, folks. Let’s act like we’ve been here before.