Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A Pox on My House

Eleven Year Old Son on Sunday: "Mom, there are some weird spots on my leg."

Mom replies (in distracted fashion): "OK, sweetie, we'll have Daddy take a look at them when he gets home."

Dad (a.k.a. Emergency Medicine Physician) on Monday: "Don't worry, it's probably just some virus. We should probably keep him home today, but it'll go away."

Eleven Year Old Son on Monday Night: "Mom, they're spreading!! I'm ok to go to school tomorrow if they're not showing, but I don't want any of the kids to see them."

Mom (starting to mentally tabulate all of the calendar reshuffling that may need to take place in the next week...): "OK sweetie, we'll see what they look like in the morning."

Eleven Year Old Son, excitedly on Tuesday morning at 5:55 a.m.: "Mom, there's more!!! (Director's note: Eleven year old's tone of voice has a decidedly happy quality to it...)

Dad (after having consulted CDC web site and numerous other sources): "Looks like it could be the chickenpox."

In my house, there's a running joke that if you ask Dad the doctor about a medical malady, you're more likely than not going to be told that it's a virus and that it will run its course. My precious husband is very stingy with medicines, which is a good thing. I've always thought that it's because of the nature of the very serious cases that he sees all day long. Not surprisingly, he's almost always right!

Eleven year old Adam was vaccinated for chickenpox as a young child, but apparently in a small percentage of cases the child can eventually come down with a mild version of the illness.

This version is a kid's delight: he's not at all feeling sick, but he is prohibited from attending school for a week to avoid spreading the illness. He's thrilled with the mandatory sequestration and the pampering from Mom and Dad. He's happily completing the school work sent home by his teacher between catnaps in Mom and Dad's bed and time off to play legos or games.

I'm one of the fortunate moms who works from home and has a husband with a relatively flexible schedule, so I'm planning to join Adam in embracing this little reprieve from his personal rat race. A few days off from fencing practice, art lessons, and other appointments will likely do both of us a world of good. But my heart goes out at times like these to the men and women who don't have the luxury of my schedule. For so many families, a protracted childhood illness is a true burden. Aside from the discomfort of the child, there is a heightened sense of parental stress and anxiety. I'm feeling lucky today to have my life and my son at home with me, even if he is spotty!

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