Thursday, March 18, 2010

Degrees Of S(trep)aration

James and Mary have been trying to kill me by degrees. They have been taking turns with their illnesses. Rather than bring on the sickness in one fell swoop, they have been in sibling collusion and decided that it would be really fun to watch mama slowly go insane by alternating who is on the Amoxicillin each week. For the last six weeks I have had to double check who I am giving the antibiotic to. That person curled up in a fetal position and sucking her thumb in the corner? ME.

Today, while I was at work, my cell phone started ringing. Normally, I keep my phone tucked away in my purse in the closet of my classroom. As luck would have it, I was in the closet digging for some crayons and paintbrushes when my phone started ringing. People who know me well enough to have my cell phone number also know my working hours and don't call me when I'm at work. So the fact that my phone was ringing sent a little jolt of adrenaline coursing through my body. The same little jolt you get when your phone rings at 2 a.m. and your body says "Hey, this isn't right! Nobody calls here at 2 a.m. Who died?!"

Upon answering, I discovered that it was the school nurse at my son James' middle school. She was calling to cover me in guilt let me know that James was complaining of a sore throat and that she had looked down his throat and that it looked really bad. She said he didn't have a fever but had mentioned that he'd had strep a few weeks ago. She further mentioned that she thought it might be making an unwelcome comeback. I knew, of course about the sore throat. I knew that he didn't feel good when I woke him for school. But I did what any mother of multiple children over the age of 5 do; namely, I stated that I was sorry his throat hurt, but he was either going to have to be on fire with a fever or barf up a week's worth of meals to stay home. He didn't have a fever and he didn't produce said barf, so I sent him to school. A mere two hours later, the nurse was calling me to come pick him up because he was miserable and she thought he might be getting strep. Why, yes, I am the World's Meanest Mother, why do you ask? (I believe we have had this discussion before. Today's behavior of sending a sick child to school cements my status, thankyouverymuch.)

After scrambling to get a sub and picking a teary-eyed and pale James up from school, I made a doctor's appointment for him. As we were driving home, James was very chipper and cracking jokes. I gave him the stink eye. This is not the behavior I expect out of someone with Strep. The boy child even had the nerve to say that he thought he had Strep. I told him that I had my doubts--especially since he was cracking jokes and eating French fries. (Yes, I did make a stop by CrackDonald's for a Diet Coke on my way home. What?!?!) I should have known right then that my capacity for wrongness was being enlarged. I myself have joked with medical-type people about pain as I have had stroke level blood pressure brought on by migraine pain or been facing an emergency C-section, so I should have known. I mentioned that Usual Strep Behavior involved fever, headaches, sore throat, and inability to get into a standing position. Other than sore throat, he didn't have any of the Usual Strep Behavior. He maintained his position. "I really think that the Strep has come back," he said.

We drove to the doctor's office and I may or may not have told him that he better test positive for Strep as I was missing work because of his shenanigans. (I also may or may not have actually used the word 'shenanigans.' After all, it was St. Patrick's day!)

After checking in, we were called back and we got settled into an examination room. I should mention here as well that James was wearing shorts. Also, the high temperature was forecast to be about 63 degrees. Hey, I pick my battles, people. Anyway! The doctor came in and high fived James for wearing shorts. This led to a conversation about shorts and professionalism and geographic/temperature appropriateness for shorts. This conversation somehow led to the doctor telling me where he was from. He was a small town in northern Illinois that I am familiar with for a couple of reasons, one of which is that I had a college roommate that was from the same town. When I mentioned this, he asked me her name. When I told him, he laughed and said that not only did he know them (his dad was a veterinarian and doctored the animals on my roommate's family farm) but that he had played high school football with my roommate's brother.

Small world, eh?

Wait. It gets better.

I mentioned that I had family in some other towns in the area and he knew all the places of which I spoke. Even tiny little Tampico, Illinois. And that's saying something, folks. Supposedly it is known as the birthplace of Ronald Reagan, but I'm not sure who knows that except for people who live there and people like me who have had to explain exactly where and what Tampico is.
We had a good time talking about places we were both familiar with while James reclined on the examination table and tried to stay awake. Then I mentioned that while northern Illinois was where my family was from, it wasn't where I grew up. After a few more questions and answers, it was discovered that not only did this doctor know the town in which I grew up, he went to med school with the good friend of my best friend's younger brother! (Didja follow that? Basically, we know some the same guy.) They went skydiving together after they took their boards. (He joked that they said that if they passed, they decided they'd even use the chute. I might have a little crush on his sense of humor.)

While James tried to stay awake and not drool on the examination table paper, the doc and I played 6 degrees of separation. It was awesome. It's about time one of my children's illnesses wasn't all about them.

So when somebody says "It's a small world," don't roll your eyes. Because you never know when you'll run into your college roommate's brother's football teammate or your best friend's younger brother's good friend. Right?

Turns out that this episode of Strep (strepisode?) was much more fun than I thought it would be. Go figure!

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