When Edie was just a few months old, she came through pertussis, which left her lungs a little weak. When she’s healthy we can’t tell the difference, but as soon as she gets the slightest bit sick, her lungs gum up and the faintest “whoop” resolves her worst coughs. She is likely to grow out of it eventually, but for now it continues to add a special pathetic note to any illness.
So when the early morning was punctuated by a spastic choke, I knew it was going to be a sick day. Usually the coughing doesn’t slow her down much, so I wasn’t sure she’d need much extra attention until she wandered into the living room with those glassy fever eyes. “My ankles hurt right here. I might vomit.” I felt a bit of panic, but when we got safely to the potty it became clear that “vomit” was just her polite euphemism for productive coughing.
I tucked her back into bed with an appeal to a few familiar examples of sick children who stay in bed all day: Allen Say as a child in his autobiographical “Tree of Cranes,” and the Stevenson Counterpane poem. We brought out the little TV with a built-in VCR, which she can operate on her own to watch a selection of kids’ tapes left over from my childhood. The MagiClip princesses joined her for Pete’s Dragon and Peter Pan. She munched some immune support gummy bears, homeopathic children’s cold tablets, and a little herbal cough syrup, along with plenty of lemony tea.
She loved my egg flower soup last time, but this time she didn’t get much down. It took all morning to eat half a mandarin orange. Although she’s in reasonably good spirits, I can tell the virus is probably going to win a few rounds. For now, I’ll give her a little back up, keep her comfortable and protect her rest, and settle in for a quarantine watch.
That’s what you get for scheduling a date night.