Sunday, October 30, 2005

Cough. Cough Cough. Cough Cough Cough.

Kid is sick, with the additional complication of the maybe-asthma but definitely wheezy lungs that ratchet up my
motherly concern. I don't want her to have asthma. I don't want her to be sick. I don't want to make a big deal
about her illness -- she's eager to have a special illness all her own, wants to talk constantly about the state of
her health ("Is this a really big cold, Mom? Is it the biggest cold ever?"). I, on the other hand, am torn. I want to
give her effective medical care, but I don't want to encourage her to think of herself as having a limiting illness.
I worry that my hangups about bodily illness (bust through it, avoid medical practitioners, illness is a fact of
life to be dealt with but not talked about) are ultimately going to leave her feeling confused and ashamed
of what might be a lifetime condition.

The diagnosis was so sketchy. The follow-up was so nonchalant. I wish I knew what the hell was up.
What's the prognosis? Should I worry? Will it get worse? Will it go away? Will it repeat? How can I prevent recurring attacks?
I asked all the right questions at the time, but it didn't seem like they had much specific to tell me.

Now she's sleeping well, eating well, but she does have really clogged breathing. She's only worried
that she'll be too sick to go out on Halloween night. I've promised that we'll find a way to 'ween, remembering well
every Halloween experience of my own. There's something wonderful about being out at night with a flashlight and
a hundred other excited children, getting candy from any grown-up that one asks. I told her she might wake up tomorrow feeling like a tiger. She rejoined that she was probably going to feel like a squashed raccoon.

But before she got sick, we enjoyed a long visit from Grandma -- ice skating show! Irish step-dancing show! Art museum! Planetarium! Baking pies! Playing dolls! Hiking! -- who really is wonderful company. And she can clean the hell out of
a dirty stove without giving her daughter (much) guff about the woeful lack of housewifery going on around here.

And before that, Detroit for the weekend for a meet-up with my husband. Kid and I drove through Canada, where
Tecumseh is a national hero...it's like a sane mirror-universe of my beloved Midwest. While I did not love
Detroit (not really a city person, highway system was torture, the husk of a once-prosperous place that
now is broken with poverty), I loved the chance to be with my husband and see many former grad school
classmates.

2 comments:

listmaker said...

Bridgett: I'm so glad to see you back; I was beginning to get worried about you. Sorry your daughter is ill, but glad you had a chance to spend some time with your mom and husband.

Bad Alice said...

I've lurked a bit, but I thought I would comment, since I have one daughter with, well, for the moment I guess it will be called asthma. Until she had her third bout of pneumonia, the doctors called it RAD. Now they call it asthma, although the only time she has breathing problems is during colds. Anyway, I too sometimes find medicine a kind of alice in wonderland world. It seems as if people are answering your questions, and later you realize you're just as lost as before. Since my youngest daughter was born premie, I've definitely made my peace with doctors, medicine, and multiple interventions. She also has epilepsy, and boy I can tell you that's definitely a sketchy illness (may go away, may not--who knows).

Hang in there. You're smart to watch out for your tendency to "suck it up" about illness, since that can make kids feel guilty for being ill. But you're also right not to want to encourage "drama." But even if it seems like she wants an illness that makes her special, I bet part of it is just wanting to know what's happening to her body. Some matter-of-fact books about asthma would probably satisfy her curiosity without making a big deal of it.