A Tale of Two Sicknesses
It was the worst of times, it was the worstest of times, it was the age of projectile sneezing, it was the age of irrepressible coughing, it was the epoch of mucus, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was okay to use improper grammar while parodying famous literature, because it was hilarious, it was the summer of insomnia, it was the summer of despair, we had everything before us, we had viruses after us, we were all going direct to the doctor, we were all going direct to the pharmacy—in short, the period was so far from the present period, that some of its noisiest Twinfants insisted on its being blogged, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of awesomeness only.
For most of the month of June, my house was baby cold central. As I’ve mentioned previously (in Don’t Fear the Teether, and Think of the Children), my daughter was under the weather, forecasted by my wife and I as thundering storm clouds looming along the Pseudonymous front, and when the storm finally broke, it did, in fact, ignite several torrential weeks of snot-rocket downpours—from both kids.
I realize, O Loyal Reader, that by not following up on this storyline, I’ve left you with a cliffhanger as agonizing as a television-season-ending shocker, and that you’ve been waiting with bated breath for updates on my daughter’s state. For that I offer my sincerest apologies, and humbly ask you to put away that guillotine. Ironically, part of the reason for it is because so much has been happening since then that is worthy of sharing, but the all-consuming nature of caring for ailing Twinfants has kept me so busy that I have not had time (or, let’s face it, the energy) to chronicle these stories. But fear not. That ends right here and now, as Twinfamy has been “recalled to life” and returns to pseudo-continuity. In fact, this Twincident picks up right where Think of the Children left off, on the following day, a Monday.
Week the First – The Snot Still Rises
We had suspected my daughter of having a cold, and after visiting the doctor (for the second time in two weeks), it was confirmed.
“Looks like it’s viral,” our doctor reported, sporting the winning smile with which she breaks bad news, “So there isn’t much to do in terms of antibiotics or other prescriptions. Unfortunately, you’ll just have to ride this one out. Can you do that for me, little girl?” she asked my daughter, who—oh yeah, had been SCREAMING in protest for the last ten minutes while being examined.
My daughter paused a moment, blinked at the unexpected stimulus, and glared with recognition at the stranger who had just been poking at her while all she really wanted was Daddy to hold her, as if to say, Sleep with one eye open, tonight b!tch. She erupted again, drenching herself in a fresh concoction of tears and boogers. Poor baby girl.
“Some things you can try,” the doctor hollered over the tiny soprano, “are a humidifier, elevating her mattress, using saline nasal drops and extracting mucus with a bulb, and Tylenol if the fevers come back. Oh, and a little cowbell can’t hurt either,” she winked.
Well, my wife and I are kind of a big deal, so we’d already been doing all of these, and when I asserted our greatness, the doctor glowed. “Of course you are! You guys are so good. You’re doing a great job, Dad!” Aw, shucks.
I tried to remember this while braving the five-day scream-fest that ensued, as I split my attention between a miserable daughter who wanted nothing but to be held every second, and a son who became jealously aware of this about thirty seconds after I did. However, Daddy tender-love-and-cared the hell out of them both and we saw my daughter finally feeling better and returning to her happy, bubbly self by Saturday.
Week the Second – Calm in Storm
My daughter had beaten the snot out of her cold and had even taken its lunch money. As an added bonus, my son didn’t show any signs of catching it, either.
This week was drenched in Awesome Sauce, the ingredients for which have been shrouded in mystery for decades, despite tireless attempts by the world’s leading scientists and culinary experts. (Some speculate that Chuck Norris enforces its secrecy, but not out loud. That’s just asking for trouble.)
Week the Third – The Substance of the Nostril
Suddenly, out of nowhere (well, actually, his nostrils), my son began sneeze-launching cloud-white, stringy boogers and coughing uncontrollably. Some friends were visiting us that day, so we joked that he might be allergic to them while they were here, and seriously considered it once they left. The Twins had been sleeping from 7 pm to 5 am consistently prior to the sneeze-a-thon, but that night, we were reminded this was a newfound luxury as he woke up hourly, drowning in a salty sea of his own mucus.
Oddly, the next morning he was fine, as if nothing had happened—as if it were all a bad dream, very much akin to my unintelligent former seventh grader students’ thrilling short story resolutions. It quickly turned back into a nightmare, however, around 3 pm, when mucus-bearing missiles again assaulted my unsuspecting daughter and me. After another night of insomnia, a disheveled, zombie version of myself brought him to the doctor AGAIN, for our fourth visit in three weeks.
“Well, hello again!” Dr. RainbowsSunshineAndPinkBunnyRabbits beamed.
“So, I really think you should do a punch card promotion,” I enthused. “You know, like at a frozen yogurt place? I mentioned it to the receptionist, but she was not very receptive.”
She once again went through her anatomical surveillance procedure. Lungs, ears, temperature, cabin air filter, windshield wiper fluid—all good. Since both my wife and I have endured terrible allergies our whole lives, I consider myself an expert on all things allergy–a connoisseur if you will–and thus was pretty convinced my son was having an allergic reaction, possibly to our visitors or something outside. In retrospect, I had correlated both of his sneezing fits with bringing him outdoors. He loves to look at trees, so we’d been watching the ones in our backyard sway in the breeze just before my peeps showed up, and then the next day, I brought him out with me to check on the installation of a new windshield on my automobile. (Some bastard was hauling gravel in a pickup on the freeway and a piece chipped the glass right in my eyeline. It’s okay, though, because it was free. LikeagoodneighborStateFarmisthere!)
I knew I’d be asked about my son’s recent medical history, so I pulled my trusty ukulele out of the diaper bag and launched into “The Ballad of the Possible Allergy to Something Outside,” a twelve-minute opus I’d composed for the occasion, outlining all of the above. However, mid-seventh verse (just before it really starts to pick up) she politely stopped me to say something I did not know, which I will share with you because you are worthy: Since allergies are your body’s immune system rejecting certain things (which I DID know), you need a fully developed immune system to exhibit allergic reactions. However, babies don’t reach this point until 12-15 months out (which I did NOT know). Upon sharing this with our families, my wife’s mother–a practicing OB/GYN–swore she’d already told us this several days ago. We had no recollection, but if it was, in fact, said, I offered a speculative reason for our non-responsiveness. “But you weren’t wearing one of those white coats and a stethoscope when you said it.”
In the end, it turned out that my son had acquired his first cold, but not from my daughter, since he caught it so much later after she’d shaken hers. So again, we employed the same measures taken to heal my daughter just a few weeks hence, with Daddy iron-manning his way into a Daytime Emmy Nomination, sweating through several t-shirts a day and replenishing these precious bodily fluids by valiantly imbibing Samuel Adams Summer Ale once Mommy got home.
Soon (but not soon enough), by the middle of…
Week the Fourth – The Viruses Die Out Forever
…the viruses appeared to have died out forever.
Victorious, my son, daughter and I ceremoniously danced on their graves, mirthfully firing baby formula into the air. Later that day, right in the middle of Tummy Time, I received a personal call from President Obama on a Fisher Price Chatter Telephone, congratulating me on my victory.
My wife and I had survived the Twins’ first colds, and now have one less item on our “What the Hell Are We Going to Do When That Happens?” List. (Remaining items include “My Daughter Starting to Date” and “Oh Sh!t, They Can Reach the Counter.”)
And although it was a trying period, I never once considered seeking out a ne’er-do-well doppelganger to take my place, because whenever I think about being a father, I invariably conclude that it is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better experience that I am having than I have ever known.
A 500-Disc DVD Special Edition Bonus Feature
To commemorate the Five-Minute Anniversary of this Twincident, Twinfamy decided to do something special–a Behind-the-Scenes, Making-Of commentary, intended to be read simultaneously with the post itself, similar to the auditory director commentary of a motion picture.
This post alludes heavily to Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, one of my favorite novels. If you’ve never read it or were assigned to read it but only pretended to (like I did in high school the first time around) and don’t “get” why I worded things in a certain old-timey way, that’s probably why. However, I do recommend it and hereby make it the first official selection in Twinfamy’s Book Club, a tradition I am igniting because Oprah is a quitter. In fact, it can be read on your worldwide interweb device here. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Additionally, I do realize, O Loyal Reader, this Twincident is lengthier than usual, and yes, because it borrows from literature, is more high-brow than usual. But don’t worry, I still have plenty of poop and fart jokes up my sleeve (or another body part) and will be pulling them out in due time.
Or “doo” time.
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If not, it’s no reason to cut anyone’s head off.
We Don’t Do That Here – A Visit to the Pediatrician’s Office
I stumbled through the door, clumsily and one-handedly maneuvering 30 pounds of son/carrier across the threshold while catching the diaper bag with my other hand, just before it leapt off my shoulder and spilled its contents all over the filthy floor.
While I understand the establishment of Well Child and Sick Child Entrances at our pediatrician’s office, I despise the times I’m asked to use the Sick side. Not only does my poor little boy already have a weakened immune system—you are asking me to bring him into an environment sure to be teeming with What’s Hot in the Child Sickness Community. I tried to touch as little as possible as I made my way to reception.
Having checked in, I was about to take a seat, but was struck by a lightning bolt sent by Zeus, god of the brainstorm.
“Excuse me, I was just wondering, do you have some sort of card I can get punched or stamped or something?”
“You know, like a frequent flyer type deal, like they do at sandwich and frozen yogurt joints? Just asking because this is my fourth time here in the last month, so I thought maybe my fifth visit might be free.”
“Um, no, sir. We don’t really do that here.”
“Oh, okay. Just thought I’d ask. You know, maybe you should bring that up with your supervisor. You can say it’s your idea.”
I turned to take a seat, but was once again graced by Zeus’s Wisdom.
“Sorry, I just had another question.”
“I’m not sure if you have this down there in your files, but my son’s a twin.”
“Well, I was wondering if you have any promotions. Like, for multiples. Possibly a buy-one-co-pay, get-one-free? I mean, I know I only have him today—his sister’s with my mom—but this is just for future reference.”
“Um, no, sir. We don’t really do that here, either.”
“That’s cool. No big deal. Just wanted to ask. ‘Cause I’ve been burned before. I’ll get home and present the bounty of supplies I’ve procured to my wife and she’ll look at the receipt and ask if I got the ‘twin discount’ and, of course, I didn’t, because I didn’t ask. Then, I gotta go back to the store and get the discount at customer service. Because we’re on a budget. See, I’m a stay at home dad, so we only have one income.”
“No. We don’t have a multiples discount.”
“All right, no problem. Thanks so much.”
“Okay, sorry, I know you’re busy, and yes, I do see the line forming behind me.”
“What if I decided I wanted to pay more now for certain benefits later?”
“I don’t know.”
“Like a FastPass, like at Disneyland? Let’s say I give you—I don’t know—a hundred dollars, and whenever I come in, I get jumped to the top of the list because I have a FastPass.”
“Sir, we have an appointment system, so we can’t move people’s appointments around.”
“Sure you can. You do it all the time. The last few times I was here, I waited with my sick kids undressed and freezing in the cranked-up AC for an hour, after waiting out here in the waiting room for a half hour, which means I saw the doctor an hour and a half after my appointment time. Plus, you guys can do whatever you want. Have you ever seen that Curb Your Enthusiasm episode where Larry complains about—”
A voice from the patient room door called, “Pseudonymous?” It was the moment every parent waits for—a set of cartoon-themed scrubs actually calling their child’s name to see the doctor.
“Well,” I smiled. “That’s me. Thanks for your help. Good talking to you.”
I nodded cockily at the other waiting parents. My turn, suckers.
When I got in the beach-themed patient room, I was asked to strip down my son except for his diaper. I pulled out a blanket from the diaper bag, wrapped him up, and waited for 45 minutes.
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If not, don’t wait for 45 minutes in the freezing AC. Just check out some other ones. Consider this your FastPass.
Don’t Fear the Teether
If you read Tuesday’s Captwin’s Log, you learned about my mutinous daughter’s escapades. It turns out that her behavior was not due to my own incompetence (Yay!)–it’s because she was teething and feverish (Boo!). Having figured this out, I scoured my memory for any folk wisdom relevant to the situation. I once heard that the only prescription for a fever is more cowbell, but I wasn’t so sure about that, so I decided to consult my pediatrician.
So, upon gratefully entrusting my son to his aunt’s capable hands, Wednesday morning I took my daughter to the doctor and the doctor said, “No more monkeys jumping on the bed!” Which I thought was a rather odd (and brusque) response. It turned out that she was confusing my daughter with another patient, one of five quintuplets who took an unfortunate spill while jumping on a bed, cracking his cranium on impact. Having sorted out the monkey business, we moved on to my daughter.
We love our doctor. She has a constant smile and always appears to be in a fantastic mood, but not at all in an annoying way–you can tell it’s genuine. As first-(and-I-guess,-second)-time parents, we’re aware–but can’t help–that we come in with a certain unbridled rookie intensity, and our pediatrician takes that in stride, making a point to reassure us of the phenomenal job we’re doing.
“So what’s going on today?” she smiled. “I usually only see my twins for well visits, since you and Mom do such a great job.” See? Love it. ALL people in the service industry, take note.
She consulted my daughter’s charts as I gave an animated play-by-play of the past 24 hours, apologizing for the crudity of my props and set design, for I had not had optimal preparation time: We had noticed she was flush and uncharacteristically warm last night, with especially red ears. Earlier that morning her fever had spiked to 100.4° F before we bought her a round of Tylenol with a breast milk/formula cocktail to chase. Additionally, she (and her brother) have been exhibiting all the signs of teething: gushes of drool resembling transparent, wet gotees; the gnawing of any appendage, corner, toy, or Nook Color in a one-foot radius (Don’t worry–my Nook is okay. I know you were concerned.); and a particular preference for objects of the arctic persuasion, such as fridge-cooled teething rings, wet rags, ice sculptures, Coldplay, etc. Suddenly realizing I had painstakingly chronicled yesterday’s events already, I offered to read my previous blog entry aloud for her and even autograph a printout, but she respectfully declined in favor of actually examining the patient, which was probably a good call, backed by years of medical training.
Having inspected my daughter’s vitals and crevices, she looked up. “Well, I am a little concerned about the fever. Have you tried cowbell?”
“Yes! Yes, we have! That was the first thing we tried!”
She nodded. “Excellent! Great work, Dad! Okay, well, obviously, that didn’t solve the problem. So then, when that didn’t work, did you try more cowbell?”
“As a matter of fact, we did. We attempted both the initial cowbell and then more cowbell.”
“Good, good,” she nodded, scribbling notes on the chart.
“Well,” she continued, “She’s definitely teething, but it doesn’t look like she’s quite ready to cut a tooth.” I cringed–not because of the news itself, but because of the expression “cutting a tooth.” I’d heard it before, each utterance more excruciating than the last. It’s just ridiculous. It’s not the tooth that’s being cut–it’s the gums. Yet, everyone has agreed upon this atrocity. It’s right up there with “I could care less.” No, you mean you could NOT care less. I was appalled to hear a medical professional committing such a crime against linguistics–there must be something Latin to say instead. However, given the circumstances, I decided it was best to bite my tongue. (But not with teeth that have ever been “cut.” I’ll stand firm on at least that.)
“So the reason I wanted you to come in today is because when a fever spikes like this, without other noticeable symptoms, it could mean an infection. Usually it’s an ear infection, but her ears look okay.”
I cringed, this time actually, yes, because of the news. I was plagued with ear infection after ear infection as an infant, many of which were not even diagnosed, until my poor mother–a pharmacist–persisted that I’d been clawing my pudgy hands at my ears for days, shrieking in pain. Doctors later discovered they were not discovering the infections because I have unusually narrow Eustachian tubes–so narrow that they envelop infections in an Invisibility Cloak. To this day, I must still insist–especially with new doctors–to re-examine my history if I am ever to receive the antibiotics necessary for salvation from the vice clamped around my head. I am hoping to dodge this tiny bullet with my children and knew my daughter would first need to be a repeat ear-symptom offender before validating it.
Then the doctor said something I will share with you, O Loyal Reader, in case you encounter this situation with your own progeny, because I, like Kyle Broflovskli of South Park, learned something that day.
“Occasionally–especially with a little girl–it could mean she has a urinary tract infection (UTI)…”
Now, this is mainly for the guys since they don’t have the equipment of their own to maintain, but it’s very important when changing a diaper to apply the axiom “wipe front to back,” particularly in sanitizing feminine parts. (This principle actually applies well to people all ages and genders. You’re welcome.) Unfortunately, due to the nature of wearing excrement in a to-go bag, infection does still occasionally happen. Like most things, I insist with my wife how awe-inspiring I am upholding this guideline regardless of actual skill.
A suspenseful swell of foreboding violin strings crescendoed as the pediatrician continued. “…but her lady parts look just fine, too.”
“Score!” I fist-bumped my daughter.
“Nn-Gaaah?” she tittered.
With all that in mind, I was advised to monitor Our Princess’s temperature and continue with the Tylenol if it got high, cowbell at the ready. A few days’ vigil saw her temperature returning to normal and an resurgence of her ecstatic self.
Then, over the weekend came the snorting, coughing and projectile sneezing…
Will Our Little Princess emerge victorious from this biological battle? Will the affliction spread to other unfortunate members of the Pseudonymous bloodline, culminating in the full onslaught of a zombie apocalypse 28 days later? Has our family cowbell’s efficacy diminished due to faulty manufacturing and/or a long-past expiration date?
For the shocking revelations of these and countless other unanswered questions in the Twinfamy Saga, tune in for the next electrifying Twincident, same twinternet site, same (or entirely different) twin-time!
Additional Twinformation for New Parents
A 500-Disc DVD Special Edition Bonus Feature
Handy and/or Dandy Baby Fever Chart
|If you baby is…||Call your doctor when…|
|Less than 3 months old||temperature is 100.4° F (38° C) or higher|
|3 to 6 months old||temperature is 101° F (38.3° C) or higher|
|6 months or old||temperature is 103° F (39.4° C) or higher|
|a werewolf||it changes back to human form (easier to get into car seat)|
For most babies under 6 months, Tylenol is the pain reliever/fever reducer most doctors recommend. The active ingredient in Tylenol is acetaminophen. I’m telling you this because you can often save a few bucks by finding the generic version, which usually says “acetaminophen” in bigger letters than “compare to Tylenol.” You can use these few bucks to buy yourself a drink, which will taste really good once your sick child has fallen asleep and has finally stopped crying.
Fellow rookie parents: Consult your own physician for proper Tylenol dosage–it depends on your child’s weight.
Rebellious rookie parents: You are so undeniably cool! Teach me to be like you! BUT, while play by your own rules and live on the edge and whip your hair back and forth and whatnot, please don’t make your baby a wild child when it comes to medicine. The label says not to administer it more often than every 4-6 hours for a reason, so please follow the rules just this once. Don’t worry about your rep. I won’t tell anyone. I’m not even looking.