Thursday, March 11, 2010

Scarlet Fever

When HH is sick there is a great deal of second guessing and feeling the forehead and taking temperatures with three different thermometers , two of which read Celsius, which send me running to the internet to see if he’s sick in the European sense of sick. Then there is the sitting at the edge of his bed and watching him part, trying to decide if those bright red cheeks are a sign of something terrible or simply the result of the extra blankets or the fact that I forgot to remove his socks when I put him in bed at 4:00 in the afternoon when he nearly fell asleep on the floor in the hallway after taking off his jacket when we got home from school.
Sitting on the edge of the bed may be the toughest part, particularly if there is a little rattle in his throat that brings out a soft snore and the hair around his face is wet with perspiration from the fever. The temptation is to wake him up to make sure he’s ok or at least not any worse than he was before he fell asleep. I’ve done that, awakened him to make sure he wasn’t delirious, but he usually just tucks his small, smelly bear to his face and falls right back to sleep.
But it’s the middle of the night when all the doubts and fears peak, when he shows up at the side of my bed crying because his cough is so strong he can’t sleep or his ear hurts or he has vomited all over himself. That’s the time when I wish I were back home, back in the place I knew when I was a boy growing up, where I know the routine like the back of my hand. I know the numbers to call and just the right tone of voice to use when speaking with the doctor or the nurse or the intern on-call in the emergency room. It’s times like these when I fell like an alien here, not just a foreigner or an American but an alien, someone who for all the studying and acculturation I’ve gone through still doesn’t and may never know the ropes like a local. And the damned thing about it is that HH is the one who is suffering in the bed next to me, where I’ve settled him down with a dose of children’s ibuprofen and a cool cloth on his forehead.
This week he came down with Scarlet Fever, just hearing the words sent a wave of dread through me. He’s taking his medicine now and I think the worst is over but there will be other nights, I know there will, when the light in my room comes on unexpectedly at 3:00AM and his bright red face stares up at me with that unmistakable “I don’t feel well” look and it all starts over again. Tonight, at least, we will both sleep soundly. I hope.

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Blogger Pippa said...

All the best to HH and his loving parents - the best part of the experience is when it is over. May that be soon!

8:58 AM  
Blogger christina said...

Aww, poor little sweetie. Scarlet fever seems to run rampant through kindergartens at certain times of the year. Not fun but fairly harmless if it's treated in time. I know what you mean about not knowing the ropes, I still struggle with it sometimes even after living here for so long.

Get well soon, HH!

10:31 AM  
Blogger verena said...

I empathise with you, since moving to Germany almost 3 years ago my 2 children have had 2 broken bones, dehydration an ear infection & a kidney stone,we know all the hospitals!!

4:42 PM  
Anonymous NYCtoNewHampshire said...

I'm worried. Scarlet Fever? Sounds like something my grandmother had to worry about!

2:14 AM  
Anonymous Ian said...

Just for info and maybe to put things in a differnet perspective; the German word for Scarlet Fever - Scharlach - is interchangeable with strep throat. That's a condition that always seemed to run rampant when I was a chlid growing up in NY. All of the symtoms you had described fit. Hope its all behind you und wish you more confidence for the future.

8:59 PM  
Anonymous Andrea said...

All the best to HH!

11:45 AM  

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