It seems that I have been hobbling in a boot and wheeling around on a knee scooter, FOREVER. And yet, it is only 4 weeks. A time period in which not only my life, but the weather seems to be standing still. Today’s rain and chill are more suitable to April rather than May and plenty of things I should have done by now are still hanging over my head. Things like spring housecleaning (am I the only one who still tries to do that?) garden planting and ramping up the outdoor exercise routine.
However, this weekend, after mumbling and complaining about how inconvenient a broken foot is, and my sneaky attempts to do stuff anyway, I was reminded that timeframes and seasonal planning and things we take for granted are all forgotten when someone is sick.
More than a week ago, my grandson developed an irritated eyelid that looked like we should have been asking him, “how bad does the other guy look?” It looked more bruised than infected, but no injury had been sustained. He went on a round of oral antibiotics and that seemed to fix it.
Last Friday, the eye blossomed the same way again, and this time, his pediatrician was taking no prisoners. Being the queen of internet research that I am, I looked up the differential diagnosis for swollen eyelids and quickly realized it wasn’t an insect bite, it wasn’t dermatitis, it wasn’t a stye. All that seemed left was Orbital Cellulitis – a frightening infection that can quickly jeopardize eyesight.
The hospital room was ready, the ophthalmologist was there, and a course of ultra strong IV antibiotics was begun. All this was related to me by phone by my daughter. I had flashbacks of my own son’s horrific hospital trip on suspicion of leukemia and what, as a mother, I went through, watching what my son was going through. The blood draws, the testing. For my son, it was some demented form of mono, for my grandson it was Preseptal Cellulitis – in front of the eye but not in it.
A sigh of relief was breathed by all. Then suddenly, my grandson turned red and itchy from head to toe. It was a reaction to the antibiotic called Red Man Syndrome, which is not a true “allergic” reaction, but rather a result of too much antibiotic being pumped into the patient. The infusion was slowed down, and cool wet washcloths were applied to him. My daughter described it as “controlled panic.”
Then, when a washcloth was placed over his head, this struck my grandson as ridiculous and funny. He began laughing. His laughter was so pure, innocent and genuine that the atmosphere in the room relaxed immediately. He even posed for a picture for his mom, washcloth on his head, both eyes swollen shut, but a big smile on his face.
By the time I got to see him, wheeling with my knee scooter up a ridiculously steep hill from the hospital parking lot to the door, the reaction had subsided. Outside the door of his room, I put on my red nose (yes, Nanny always has a red nose handy) and I rolled into the room to be met with that wonderful sound of a child’s laughter. I sat on his bed with him and we compared his IV splint and my foot boot and declared ourselves “Boo-boo buddies.” We played and colored while a new infusion of antibiotic was started and he had no reaction. There were genuine smiles all around as nurses and doctors checked on him.
The next day he was released with oral antibiotics, just in time to attend his own birthday party, and true to the amazing healing power of children, he ran around, played and laughed all day.
Of course we are all thankful for the quick actions of the pediatrician, the wonders of modern medicine that were able to beat back the infection, and the ability of a healthy not-quite 3 year old to bounce back.
But, I also like to think that laughter played a small, but important part in helping everyone – that “keeping your wit about you” heals the spirit to allow medicine to do its job.