I know there’s a movie by the same name (sans the “the”), but this story lacks the comedic bend of its predecessor.
Yet no other title would do.
We had been enjoying the best summer ever—traveling all over the place, spending time with family, frolicking in the sun, sand, and water in various New England states and our very favorite island.
But our travels and nonstop summer activity (and lack therefore of our 18-month-old’s usual structure and consistent nap and bedtimes) took its toll, and the moment we arrived home from our journey to Nantucket, Phoenix came down with his very first fever.
And it was a big one. The next day as the thermometer read 103.9 I dialed the on-call Pediatrician as my heart beat faster.
“I have three kids and I’m not neurotic” (as I admittedly was when I had one child—who isn’t?!) I told the Doctor, “but I’m scared.”
She assured me that a virus was going around with a high fever for four days and then a rash and said that the number on the thermometer was not so important as how my son was acting.
Phoenix was still somewhat himself so I was relieved.
The next day we happened to have a well visit scheduled with our pediatrician and while there she ordered some blood tests for Phoenix and I noticed as she kept a concerned and watchful eye on our little guy—through her forced smiles and cheerful voice.
Again, I was worried. I prayed and cried silent tears as I nursed Phoenix while we waited to see how he acted once the Tylenol kicked in.
Once I finished my last prayer, Phoenix popped his head up and started chirping away, back to his (somewhat) “usual” self.
I laughed in relief and we were on our way shortly thereafter.
The next day brought a call from our pediatrician advising us to go to the ER immediately to get an IV for Phoenix. His sodium and sodium chloride were low (he was dehydrated). She gave us the option of two hospitals: I chose one and my husband the other. I ignored my intuition (I know, I know) and agreed hesitantly to go to the “closer” and “more comfortable” neighborhood hospital since it was “only an IV.”
We waited to get into the ER in the freezing cold waiting room of this neighborhood hospital while huge TV’s blared, very sick looking people stared out into space all around us, and I hugged my toddler son close. He felt limp and very warm and again, I felt fear.
Once in the ER we waited again—for the nurse, for the doctor, for the IV, for the blood tests, for the XRAYS. Wait we did. Find answers we did not.
By nighttime it became clear that they wanted us to stay over night. I cried again out of exhaustion, fear, dread, and sheer resistance. I breathed all of the resistance out of my body and we made our way to our room and settled in for what would prove to be one of the worst nights of my life.
At around 1:00AM the Physician on call burst into our room and informed us that Phoenix needed a spinal tap.
“WHAT?!” was both Philippe and my reaction, as my son lay sleeping in my arms in the hospital bed.
“We are concerned that he was so ‘easy’ when he got his IV. He didn’t cry or put up a fight,” she continued.
I explained that I was nursing Phoenix as he’d gotten the IV; he was exhausted from 4 days with a high fever, no sleep, and little food; he had been off schedule for awhile due to traveling; he had roseola like my friends’ kids had had; and he had one of the most even, happy, laid back, and calm temperaments of any child I’d ever seen.
The Doctor, clearly not listening—or hearing–what I was saying, continued to insist that he needed a Spinal. We discussed the issue with her for a long time, and finally decided to consult with our on call pediatrician by phone. After 45 minutes of deliberating, discussing, fear-based possibilities being raised, and arguing, the decision was made: he would have a spinal tap.
I cried again—this time not silently—as my husband carried Phoenix away to get a test neither of us wanted him to have.
How could this be happening?
The things that the doctors had said—the “what ifs” and “he might have…” had pushed us past our point of sanity—of balance—and we agreed to a test that we both knew was unnecessary and very painful for our little guy.
Philippe had grilled all of the doctors about the efficacy of the Spinal, the possibility of staff infections, and their comfort in administering the test. Everyone assured us that it was “easier than giving an IV” and everything would be fine.
I couldn’t go in with Phoenix for the Spinal because they wouldn’t allow me to nurse him while they administered the test and so it would be more painful for him to see me if I couldn’t provide this comfort.
I waited in “our” room, watching DVD’s of “Sex and the City,” in an attempt to distract myself from the nightmare at hand.
When my baby came back to the room, flushed from crying, I noticed a rash on his neck and face.
“It’s roseola,” I told the Doctor. “He has roseola—look at this rash. The Spinal was unnecessary.”
“That rash is from his crying during the Spinal” she replied and walked out of the room.
An hour later she returned—the bearer of (more) bad news.
“I’m sorry, but we need to do the Spinal again. We didn’t get enough spinal fluid.”
This time there was no pause, no confusion, no fear, no lack of balance on my part: “NO,” I said firmly. “You are not going to give my son another spinal. The last one was unnecessary. He has roseola.”
“You can’t know that yet,” said the Doctor. “I think it’s best that we test him again, just in case…” and she continued with her list of “he could have this and that.”
“I can and do know that he has roseola, and I refuse to let you give him another Spinal. Thank you for respecting my decision.”
The doctor sensed my resolve and knew it was over—no more testing for Phoenix.
Within two hours Phoenix was full on covered with a rash and the same doctor giggled as she said, “Wish he’d had that rash before the Spinal because then we’d have known he didn’t need it.”
Using every ounce of yogic philosophy, asana, and meditation I’ve accrued over the years, I sent that young Doctor light, and shifted all of my attention and energy back to my son, who needed my energy and love to heal.
And heal he did–in record time. Once we were home from the hospital he was back to himself within minutes. Happy, sweet, laughing, and busy. I thanked the universe more times than I can describe and chalked the experience up to one of the most intense lessons I’ve had about a topic with which we are all familiar: always listen to your intuition. No matter who or what is telling you differently.
You know the answer, Super-mom. Listen within.