Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Is there a nurse in the house? Oh wait, she's sleeping.

By Karrie McAllister

It seems like only yesterday I was writing about avoiding germs...
But today, let me provide you with a dazzling visual:
I have not put on makeup in two days. My eyelids are barely supported by the new set of purplish luggage that now rests beneath them.
I have also been wearing the same sweater for the last few days, only because it’s warm…and it has pockets. Two of them—one for clean tissues, and one for not-so-clean tissues.
I have wiped more noses than I can count. And despite the fact that I took a few semesters of science in college, I have given enough doses of cough syrup to have finally mastered English to Metric conversions -- so long as it’s only ½ or 1 teaspoon. (FYI: 2.5 and 5 ml, respectively.)
As you may have guessed, the cold and flu season has finally reared its ugly, coughing head in our home. And while I personally haven’t been hit yet, I’d be fibbing if I didn’t wish I could take some nighttime medicine so maybe, just maybe, I could get a good night’s rest.
Call me na├»ve, but I never really thought I’d have to play Nurse Mommy for so long. Of all times for kids to take turns, taking turns being sick is not what I bargained for.
Being an only child, I was the only one who got sick. And when I was better, quiet time was over, the daytime gameshows were turned off, and life as we know it resumed.
No one ever told me that multiple children would mean multiple days of exhaustion.
A sick daughter on Saturday heals by Monday, only to have the younger brother slip into a feverish frenzy on Sunday. While he’s feeling better come Wednesday, daughter is back on the couch whining for “juuuuuuuice” in a tone that mimics a dysfunctional siren.
Meanwhile, on Monday, sister is ready to play and the brother has taken over the couch, control of the TV and box of tissues. Likewise, on Wednesday, sister is down for the count and brother is sitting on her, ready to wrestle.
(I realize that the previous paragraphs sound somewhat confusing being out of chronological order, but it’s about all my brain can handle. The take-away message is that I have been losing my mind with discipline and decongestants for too long.)
The daytime is only made worse by what happens when the sun goes down, for that is when I start cursing my highly sensitive maternal ears. Every tiny sniffle or cough, every deep breath or fidgety roll and the radar turns on.
Ears perked and eyes wide, I sneak into their rooms again and again to check on them while my husband snores continuously, completely oblivious. And even though he’s been sleeping through nighttime noises for years and I shouldn’t be surprised, on about my fifth trip down the hallway, I’m stomping like an elephant to test his nighttime ears.
It never ceases to amaze me how a child hacking up a lung won’t wake him, but a tired and angry wife mumbling and plodding heavily will spring him out of bed…
But spring out of bed he begrudingly does, and for the rest of the night, the care-givers follow the advice of the patients. We take turns.
Once all the comforting is done and we get our few minutes of sleep, day breaks and it’s time to begin again.
I am weary and worn, and would like nothing better than to sack out for a quick nap, but it doesn’t take long before the sickies are calling for their nurse again.
“What can I get you? Drink? Snack? Medicine? Blanket?” I ask, desperate to comfort my children.
“Just some hugs, Mommy.”
Even the weariest nurses, with their same old dirty sweaters and foggy brains, can handle that prescription.
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