So I got sick — seriously sick — this week. My wife sent an email around describing what happened:

Sunday evening, Mikie turned bright red all over. Literally like a lobster. I have never seen anything like it, and my first reaction was, “Hey. You probably also have a fever.” So I checked his temperature via the old time-honored mom-hand-that-recognizes-the-difference-between-normal-kindahot-hot-and-hellahot. He was hot. So I busted out the stethoscope Mom gave me (this should be a requirement for everyone to have) and checked his lungs and heart. Lungs were clear, heart rate was 120.

120?

120!!

He had no other symptoms, so I gave him two ibuprofen and told him to just relax and chill out. We went to bed. The next day, all the symptoms were exactly the same, but after we dropped Giovanni off at school, Mikie started getting the chills. They started like cold flashes, and then finally settled in around lunch. All his previous symptoms were still present. I called the Molina (our insurance) nurse line for help (Thank you, Jack!), and he told me to keep doing what I was doing and keep him hydrated. So, no panicking. Kept working on it. Naps, showers/baths, ibuprofen… He didn’t eat much because he was sleeping. Didn’t poop much – which is weird. Didn’t sweat much – which is also weird.

Day three. Woke up. Mikie said that both of his arms felt like they were asleep. I didn’t think much of it because this was the last I heard about it. But they never woke up. He was all muscle fatiguey and got sore doing anything. Plus the same symptoms as before except this time, we got retching and diarrhea! Mind you, they weren’t the problematic kind… The diarrhea wasn’t the oh-god-I-got-ecoli-from-my-tacos kind. It was just less together than the rest of his completely normal deuces he had that day. And his retching was more like extreme-Mom-dry-heaves!!!-that-turn-into-pukeish in reaction to something his body really didn’t want to eat (FYI – Stonyfield organic kids’ blueberry yogurt is disgusting – even when you’re not sick).

All of that I could handle, right up the point where he got out of his bath and turned blue. Blue lips, blue finger-tips, blue toes (that morphed into white, that transitioned into bright red – he was so patriotic in his illness!). So I got him into sweats, packed him into bed, and called the nurse line again. She (Eva) told me to get him to the hospital within the hour. So, we woke Giovanni up, piled into the car, and went to Providence.

The hospital was the normal hurry-up-and-wait routine. We sat in the waiting area for about 45 minutes before Mikie went to triage. They took vitals… Heart rate: 135. Blood pressure: 135/80. Temperature: 100.8. They gave him a couple Tylenol. And then we waited another hour and a half before we got a room. And it was another hour before we saw a doctor. Vitals were taken again… Heart rate: 124. Blood pressure: 116/70. Temperature: 98.4. O2 Saturation: 96%. The doctor came in, sat down, said he thought it was viral food poisoning (viral? apparently, it’s a thing), didn’t really offer up anything else, and told us to go home.

So we did. We got home around 3 AM, got everyone be-snacked and into bed by 4. But right before sleep, I noticed that Mikie’s pee was really dark (he didn’t flush after he went to the bathroom because he didn’t want to wake Giovanni up). So I told him as we passed out that he needed to drink more. MOAR!! He apparently got up around 8 and drank a few cups of liquid and then passed back out – I slept like a log until Mom woke me up at noon.

Mikie still hadn’t peed out what he drank at that point, so I called the nurse line (and then he peed!). And they said to keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn’t get worse – we follow up with the doctor on the 7th. But if it is food poisoning, it should clear up within the next couple of days.

As you can imagine, it’s been somewhat miserable around here. Then, to top it off, this morning, we were dropping our son off at school, and I had to go in to hand a paper to the office lady explaining that the reason Giovanni had missed the previous day’s school is that I was in the hospital and we were still sleeping through school. My wife decided not to let the car run while I was in there…and when she tried to start it again, it wouldn’t start.

I walked inside to inform the office lady that our car was stuck right in front of their school and we would be calling a tow truck, and she gave me that “uh-huh!” cheery smile. I got back into the car, and being the sick and stressed out person that I was, I proceeded to make a few half-hearted attempts at talking to my wife before putting my head against the window and falling asleep.

When I came to (some minutes later), my wife and I proceeded to get into a fight about how I suck at talking. Which is true. When we finally made up (the tow truck was like an hour out, so this was all while we were waiting), I suggested she try the car again. After all, it hadn’t worked the first several dozen times she’d tried it, but now…it had been some time! That means something, right?

…and it started! We called the tow truck (which was still not there more than an hour later) and told them that we were no longer in need of a tow. Instead, we drove down to our mechanic, who ran some tests and explained to us that it needed a new starter. He explained that it would start for a while, and then it would fail to start for a while, but if we just kept trying it, it would eventually start…for a while. Eventually, it would fail completely.

So we came home, me still pink and cold and 120+ heart rate, and determined to try to grind out not just the rent money, but an extra $300 for the van. All this, and by the way, it’s the end of the month, so our food supply is dwindling and we’re basically eating boneless skinless with assorted veggies.

Have you ever had one of those weeks? Where all of the different up-and-down cycles all happen to be downing at the same time? Holy crap.

The lesson
All right, Michael, what does all of this have to do with parenting and being a Dad? Simple: despite all of these problems we’ve been happening, we’ve managed to mostly keep it together when our son is around. Yes, he did have to stay up late when Daddy went to the hospital, but he was so entranced by all of the cool gadgets that he didn’t really consider that a downside. And Daddy has been sleeping a lot lately, but he considered that a good opportunity to climb into bed with his own personal massive red heating pad and get toasty.

The stress has been profound, but it’s all manifested after the boy was in bed. My wife has cried herself to sleep for a few nights in a row, and we’ve had a row or two while he was at school, but whenever he’s around, we keep our stress in check. And you know what? It feels good. It’s a stupid thing, being proud of yourself for protecting your child from your own stress…but it feels good. It feels…manly. Like I’m standing between my kid and the lion.

The Turnaround
And, as it turns out, the school has a special fund for parents that need a little extra help being able to get/keep their kids in school. The principal called the mechanic to make arrangements. And we have an appointment available tomorrow. The mechanic will drive us home after we drop the car off, and pick us back up to take us to our car once it’s done. All in one day.

Also, one of my most prolific clients offered to increase the amount that he pays me by a huge 50%, because someone that produces the quality work that I do is worth it.

Also, my fever broke and I don’t feel nearly so stiff and exhausted all the time.

Have you ever had one of those weeks where everything seemed like it was going to Hell…and then suddenly it was like Someone was looking out for you? Yeah…I don’t know how, but I need to teach my son this feeling.

Gratitude.

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