Friday, June 19, 2009

I get knocked down, but I get up again...

The VanCleaves spent more than the usual amount of time in doctors offices the last few weeks. Bethy needed a check-up, and after her appointment I took them out as a treat to the coffee shop. Thomas, active as always and ever the climber, mountaineered up onto the arm of a wing chair and went over backwards, smacking his head very, very hard on the slate floor. Now, this kid whacks his head pretty much daily, but the crack it made striking the ground this time had me up and over to him to him before he started to cry, and cry hard, which he usually doesn't do at all after a "bonk-a-head."

On the back of his little skull where it's supposed to be nice and smooth there was a lump sticking out like a golf ball, and twice as wide. Not much blood, but that bump was not a good thing. I swept him up, barked at Bethy to put the rest of their chocolate muffins in a napkin and ran to pay our bill, kid in arms. Thomas fought me, loudly, about putting ice on the spot, but I insisted.

My first thought was to take him to the ER, but upon reflection called the doctor's office we'd just left, two blocks away, instead. They'd have the nurse call me back, they promised. So I was driving around like a circling shark, waiting for the call back and decided it was asking for an accident. Making an executive decision I hauled the kids back to the doctor's office, which is air conditioned, safe, and has toys to play with.

I'm not trying to be pushy and force them to see us, I assured the receptionist as we came in the door, is it OK if we wait here instead of in the car? She was gracious, and soon enough Nurse Sue came out to take a gander at Thomas' bump. She checked, the eyebrows went up, lips pursed. Yes, definitely better have the doctor take a look at that, and let's keep the ice on.

Our paediatrician (has to be spelled that way here), Dr Keith Nichol, is a lovely Scottish doctor. Reassuring, greying, with a fantastic burring accent, light touch, and overall gentle demeanor, he got to Thomas about 15 minutes later. By that time Thomas was back to perking along, as usual. Nothing seems to stop him for long. Every once in awhile he'd put his hand to his head, look up, say, "ow my head," and then go back to playing. A quick feel to make sure all the bones were nicely attached to one another, and the doctor pronounced Thomas "most likely fine, laddie." Let him sleep and watch him was the advice.

I said for Mike and me, job #1 was to get Thomas to adulthood alive. He guffawed, agreed, then he told me about his son who, from the time he was 6, got dropped off at the local ER alone, so familiar were the staff with him. "We'd drive him there, they'd stitch him up, and we'd come back and pick him up later," Dr Keith chuckled.

How is he now? I asked.

"Oh, he's 28 now, living in Edinburgh. No broken bones lately." smiled Dr Keith.
"Though," he added after a moment of reflection, "he did mention he'd gotten stabbed in the back with a screwdriver a few weeks back."

He whaaaaa?! "Yes, well," he said, "things like that happen all the time there, nowt you can do about it but move to Dubai."

Right. Mental note: do not move to Edinburgh.

My little trip to the doctor came after a week and a half of vertigo and dizziness. It started after the two days of racing, the Mina 10K and then the Predictor 6.8K. I felt as though I'd been on some sort of serious drinking binge. The room spun and rocked when I laid down, and sometimes I couldn't even walk straight. Dizziness came and went with no predictability whatsoever. Unnerving.

At first I thought it must be dehydration, which made sense after the running, my big clue being the one runner hospitalised. I drank lots of water, chugged electrolyte drinks, nothing seemed to help.

So then I thought: middle ear infection? The kids thought it was hilarious when I ran into a wall. I thought it was painful.

Running was interesting, with the path bouncing all around like a poorly filmed documentary. It was enough to make a girl seasick.

I made an appointment with a nice doctor, and met him in his office, female escort for me at his side. (It is the Middle East. One does not spend time behind a closed door with a man. Good way to get thrown in jail for adultery, evidence or no evidence.) Anyway, he took one look at my vitals and said: low blood pressure. Are you sure you've never lost consciousness?

Not that I was aware of, doc.

He prescribed pseudoephedrine, the decongestant. You know, like Sudafed.


The pharmacist said about the same thing: "for hypotension?" I nodded. He shrugged and filled the prescription.

Doubtful, I gave it a try and sure enough, after several days the symptoms eased and then by a week or so they disappeared. Who knew?

Always nice to be reminded: the doctor knows more than you do.

A postscript to this story. I took Thomas out for ice cream and of course he was trying to climb up on the counter to scope out the flavors. A voice behind us: Don't be climbing, little man, we don't want to see you again for that. Nurse Sue, out of uniform, but apparently still on duty.

Her job, like mine, (and that of every parent), never ends.

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