Well, Jack is down for the count with a nasty stomach virus. It’s hard to know whether the cold he’s had for a few days set him off, or whether its simply a GI bug. But he really is struggling. We spent the day yesterday at home together and the poor kid couldn’t do much other than sit on the couch in a zone, holding a bucket while I tried to find the best way to hydrate him. It’s tricky with a G-tube. He usually eats 3x a day by taking a dose of 255mls of water over about 40 minutes. I slowed it down to 100mls an hour of mostly pedialite, but he still couldn’t handle it and we were getting nervous about dehydration. By the end of the day, the doctors at AI had sent over a prescription for some anti-nausea medication, and Jack was finally able to keep down some tylenol to keep his fevers down. Poor kid fell asleep at 4:30pm!
The whole day he kept asking me for small cups of water that he could drink. (We give him about 1ml of water in the bottom of a shot glass.) Jack doesn’t really take water by mouth, though he likes to wet his tongue with it, and he may get a little bit down. He was so insistant about having water by mouth that I finally asked him why. And he told me “when you’re sick, you need to drink lots of water so that it flushes the germs out of your body.” Somebody had been listening to advice we had given to Sam on his last sick day, I think. Though I told him that he needs to “drink” by taking his “belly food”, it didn’t really seem to cut it.
It’s hard to make the call to stay home when you know you have a nurse who has been scheduled to come and look after your kid. And 70% of the time, Jack’s illnesses are short-lived fevers that don’t amount to anything, just a result of the colonizations in his trach area-and we do keep him home with a nurse on those frequent occasions. But I can say that the way Jack was looking yesterday and today was enough to convince me that this kiddo deserved to have a parent at home with him. I’d like for Jack to have memories of being sick and looked after by his parents… not only when a hospitalization is involved. And I’ll admit that I feel pretty gross outsourcing the care of my sick kid to a nurse even on days when he’s only a little bit ill. But then, you’re cancelling your scheduled nurse, who then doesn’t get paid…. Sometimes it seems like a no-win.
I’ve just returned from a conference which gave me the opportunity to see the incredibly innovative work that my peers at other institutions are doing, and I confess that such experiences inevitably turn up the volume of the “never enough” refrain of the working mother that is always there, playing like a broken record in my head. It’s a full, wonderful life, and I’m lucky to have work that I find challenging (and even fulfilling most of the time) and a spectacular family. I hope someday to be able to say that there’s enough time and attention to go around.
But in the meantime, I’ll do my best to find some balance.