There are a few times in my parenting career that I’ve stopped in my tracks and realized that I was missing the boat. Somehow, all of these little things that were insignificant on their own added up to something big…and I had completely missed the clues.
The first time that I remember it happening was when my oldest child was diagnosed with his first ear infection. He was probably 2 1/2 or almost 3 and, as soon as the Doctor said he had an ear infection, it was like the light bulb went off and the past few weeks, months, even years, of strange symptoms and behaviors suddenly made sense. Unexplained low grade fevers, extreme sensitivity to sound, night waking. They didn’t always happen at the same time
Perhaps it wasn’t his first ear infection, but maybe his fourth, fifth or sixth and we just hadn’t known it. He’d been too young to tell us what was really wrong and we’d been too inexperienced and clueless to figure it out on our own.
It happened again recently, when, after a week of odd behaviors from our 4 year old, we found out what had been causing it. And then we apologized to every person he has had contact with in the past 5-7 days.
Last week we noticed that Zachary’s voice was different. It was throaty and deeper than usual. After weeks of sinus issues making their way around our house, I chalked it up to congestion and left it at that.
Then he started doing this weird thing with this throat. Sometimes, when he’d breathe in, he’d make these strange sounds, as if he was playing with his vocal chords. It was annoying. In my head it was just a weird game that a 4 year old had started playing.
Last Friday he woke up and threw up twice. He ran a fever for the remainder of the day and was clearly not feeling 100%. Minor virus, I assumed.
Tuesday he was a whining, crying, cranky mess. That is completely out of character for him. He’s usually a really outgoing, fun, easy going kid, so his behavior was definitely a red flag. I assumed he was tired.
Then, on Tuesday night, he started coughing and gagging in his sleep. When I went into his room to check on him, he was sound asleep, but was trying very hard to swallow, and was obviously having a rough time of it.
At that moment, it occurred to me that perhaps there was an issues with his throat/tonsils. I made a mental note to take a peek in the morning.
As soon as he woke up, I did just that. Lo and behold, his tonsils were huge and I could barely see beyond them. Cue a quick trip to the Doctor where we received positive results on a strep test.
And then all those little pieces, the small events of the week prior, fell into place and I realized that he’d probably been sick for at least a week, and we simply hadn’t known. Whoops.
Because he hadn’t complained of any discomfort, or run a fever for an extended period of time, it didn’t even occur to me that something might actually be wrong with him. And we’d inadvertently exposed everyone we know to the strep bug!
I either need to start paying more attention or just issue a blanket apology to everyone we know for unknowingly exposing them to illnesses. It will have to cover us for the next 8 to 10 years of childhood.
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