August 16, 2007



See, I do still exist! Sorta.

Anyway, I didn't exist yesterday because I was at home all day with a recovering sick child, and I haven't existed so far today because I had to catch up with an early morning meeting and then a host of other crap that seems to happen when I'm not in the office.

But, I'm here now, and it's just about lunchtime, SO, to catch up, on Tuesday previous, Catherine got up complaining of a headache, and being the cruel, heartless ogre I am, I dosed her up with a couple of Children's Chewable Tylenol, which had the analgesic capacity of a marshmallow. She's a big kid, and could tolerate some serious dope in her system, but I figured she didn't need it.

Turns out, she did.

She went on to school, then to the office around lunchtime with a severe headache, they tried to call Mommy (who was in Tuscaloosa for the morning, unbeknownst to anyone), then Cat went back to class, got worse, went outside and threw up on the ramp to her classroom, went back to the office crying, they tried to call Mommy again (who was still in Tuscaloosa for the morning, unbeknownst to anyone), then finally decided to call me.

Me, a cruel, heartless ogre who was by then in a meeting and couldn't leave, who called Grandma to go get the sick child, and who I still didn't think could possibly be all that sick.

Went on with the rest of the day, got off from work, stopped at Head Start on the way home to get my John Edwards-quality coif adjusted, went home to meet up with Mommy, who had finally gotten back to work from Tuscaloosa sometime after lunch to find a host of phone messages about a sick child, and then called her husband who said everything had been taken care of and Grandmom had her and not to worry.

Walked in, and Catherine was crying the big round hot tears that signal something is actually wrong. Turns out after she got to Grandmom's she threw up several more times, had been feverish with chills, had an ultra severe headache (which for some reason did not prompt Grandmom to give her anything other than crackers and Sprite and a CHICKEN SANDWICH), and the kicker, it hurt when she moved her neck.

Which can be Not Good.

Called the doctor's office, got the after-hours service, described the symptoms, waited for them to call back. Dosed her up with a big cup of liquid Motrin and waited. Got a call back from the nurse, described the symptoms, asked Cat to move her head, cry. "Can she hold her head down?"

"IT HURRRRRRTS! ::sob::"

Hmm. The nurse said to bring her in right now, and NOT to the after-hours clinic over off of Alton Road, but the actual Children's Hospital emergency room. Because she might have a case of meningitis.

Nothing quite like that bracing bit of reality to turn your blood to icy goo, y'know? Mainly because you can't freak out and start running around the kitchen flailing your arms and screaming, because that sets a very bad example. You have to be calm and jocular and in charge of your bladder.

SO, off we went to the ER. I left Reba at home with the other three kids, because I'm evil and stupid, but also knew they needed to do their homework, and eat supper, and get in the bed, and we didn't need to waste time getting them packed up and taken to Grandmom's house, where they would only eat, and not do their homework, or bathe, or get ready for school the next day.

Logic is quite the two-edged sword, huh. Because every time I called to let Reba know what was going on, I got the exact same disaffected, flat, atonal, monosyllabic answers to every question, which is wifespeak for "I can't BELIEVE you couldn't wait long enough for ME to go with you because it's MY BABY who's sick and you left me HERE." Of course, since I was already full of that dank wet fear that parents get when they have a child who might have just contracted something dire and deadly, I wasn't really in the mood to press her to get her to actually come out and SAY that's why she seemed angry.

The fact is, if she was really sick, we had no time to spare, and one of us needed to get her to the hospital, right then. Deal with the matrimonial drama later. Which is the way of cruel, heartless ogres, you know.

Anyway, loaded sick crying achy-headed child in the van, made the mad dash to Children's, cursing the current "Take Back our Highways" campaign the State Troopers are running right now that caused me to have to drive exactly the speed limit lest I get detained and waste time explaining myself to a sunglasses-wearing man in a Smokey the Bear hat.

Uh-oh. She's asleep. "CAT? Are you okay!?"

""Mmhm. I'm okay, Daddy," she said, not opening her eyes. Which meant she was either okay, or delirious.

Pulled into the drive at the hospital, opened the door, left the key with the valet, and walked her inside. She seemed to be doing much better. Tired, and bleary-eyed, but not really complaining.

First stop, security. Empty pockets of everything, still made the alarm go off, and as is the case with these things, the guy let me come on through. Talked to the triage nurse at the end of the desk who looked like Robin Williams dipped in a vat of hair growth serum.

Look, I know it's wrong of me, but I prefer nurses who are round and soft and squishy and smell pretty and don't look like they've been covered with epoxy and rolled around on the floor of a barbershop. And yes, even if it's a guy.

ANYWAY, told him our tale of woe, told him with as much anxiousness as I dared exhibit that our doctor was supposed to have called ahead because they thought it might be meningitis, all of which he dutifully took down with the same level of concern as the parking valet.

"Here. Fill this out, and bring it back to me."

Went and sat down, quickly filled it out and marked the Number 4 Face of Pain on the sheet to let him know she hurt lots, and gave it back to him.

And waited.

For two hours. In this time, Catherine perked up, her fever let up, she watched TV and talked to me about everything under the sun, and said she was hungry. Methinks she's better.

9:00 p.m. I called to let Reba know we still hadn't been seen and hadn't even gotten registered yet (where they take your insurance info and give you an armband) and got the first flash of anger when she misunderstood what I meant by "registered." Yes, I came in and filled out the triage form; no, we still haven't gone into the little booth to give them our insurance card. Yes, she's better now, and ate a bag of chips and had a Diet Mountain Dew, but I don't have any idea how much longer it will be.

All of these were answered with variations of "M-hm." Time to hang up.

Waited some more.

Decided I felt somewhat naked since I was the only adult in the area without a tattoo. Patients came and went, even the big batch who came in after us. All I have to say is that I'm glad she didn't have anything severe, or she'd be dead by now.

Around 10 we finally got called to the triage desk, where they weighed her, took her temperature and blood pressure, gave her a wristband, and sent us back to sit down.


Finally got called to the registration booth. Gave cards, filled out forms, went back out and sat down to wait.

The room was nearly empty by now. 10:45 we finally got past the door into the actual emergency department to be seen by a doctor. By this time, Catherine was back to her normal chirpy, chattery, indefatigable self, so she was quite excited by all the activity. They gave us a room and a blanket and a gown, she changed, and we set in to watch Dirty Jobs on Discovery Channel.

Doctor came in, saw a happy, healthy little girl, got a low down on the symptoms, noted that her neck and head seemed as mobile as an owl's, and we finally got the explanation of the hurtiness. Seems that she had no actual trouble earlier moving her head, it's just that when she did it, it made her head hurt worse. No meningitis. In fact, nothing left to find. They took a throat swab to check for strep, but he said he was almost certain it wasn't that, and could only guess that she'd gotten a virus of some sort that has since unvirused itself.

BUT, best to wait for the strep test before we left.

Called home around 11 to let everyone know she was okay, got a slightly less confrontational version of "Mm-hm," and then waited some more.



Catherine got comfortable and dozed off a couple of times.


Ask how much longer the strep test will take to read.

"Several more minutes."


We finally left at fifteen after midnight.

I had originally planned to stop for some food, but I was tireder than I was hungry, and so was she, so we went straight home, gave her another dose of Motrin to keep her from waking up with a headache during the night, and hit the pillow at nearly 1:00 a.m.

UP EARLY WEDNESDAY, got the kids up and dressed, took the middle two to school, came back home and sent Reba on to work, and set in to watch Youngest for the day.

Breakfast, email work to let them know I would be off, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, and collapsed on the bed again for an hour or two nap. Catherine plopped herself down on the bed and interrupted my beauty sleep several times to ask how to spell various words, and after she was done, I awoke to see that she'd made Reba and me an anniversary card. Today is our anniversary, you know.

I usually send flowers, but being at home put a crimp in being able to go to the florist over where I work, so I hatched the idea that we'd get Mommy some flowers and take them to her at work, along with Catherine's card. UP, get us dressed, went to the grocery store and picked up a vase of a dozen roses, a card from me, and a couple of sandwiches for us for lunch (which I was looking forward to, seeing as how I hadn't eaten since breakfast on Tuesday).

Stopped and got gas, and got a phone call. A very perturbed-sounding woman on the other end demanded to know where I was and what I was doing. I told her we were about to come see her at work. This seemed to finally undo whatever miffedness she'd had built up. We set out and got to her work and surprised her with the flowers and the card, and whatever had been bugging her finally seemed to have lifted. She showed Catherine around and introduced us to folks, who thought it quite charming that her husband would think enough of her to bring her flowers and a cute little girl.

Back home, answered work emails (explaining that I was OFF FROM WORK), got stuff ready for supper, tried to take another nap and failed, started supper, went and picked up middle two kids from Grandma's, finished cooking supper when we got home, ate, then sent Rebecca outside to play with Lightning, had to corral Lightning after he went down inside the storm drain in our neighbor's backyard which involved having to pull the iron lid off the thing, got back inside and found out Reba was going to have to work late, went to church, came home, made sure everyone had their homework done, answered ANOTHER work email around 9:30, and climbed into bed.

THIS MORNING, got up, showered, got the kids up, dressed, hopped onto bed and quietly sang "Happy Anniversary To You (and Me)" to Miss Reba to wake her up, got the kids their breakfast, got them loaded into the mighty Volvo, took them to school, got to work, turned around and drove over to the Birmingham News building for a meeting, stood outside in the early morning nasty wet heat for an hour, came back to work and attempted to swat away clouds of giant angry hornets, had another meeting on my going away stuff, and then decided to post this to let you all know that I am sorta on the sleepy side today.

Now I think I'll eat a bit and pack some things.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at August 16, 2007 01:05 PM

Thank God Catherine seems to be OK now. You must have been tempted to duck out of the emergency room early with an Emily Latella "Never mind" farewell after her health returned while waiting. It sounds like the headache was causing the vomiting and the other aches. Hopefully she won't have any more repeat performances.

It's a shame all of the busy-ness prevented you from having proper alone-time with Miss Reba. Think she'd honor a raincheck?

Posted by: Marc V at August 16, 2007 01:25 PM

Happy anniversary to you both, glad young one is better (no, not the Young Ones - silly possum), and a question only a man would ask:

How come women are allowed to carry a snit for several days and we have to walk gently by them and be nice & solicitous? Whereas if a man stays irritated for more than 95 seconds he is told "get over it"?

Posted by: skinnydan at August 16, 2007 01:39 PM

Marc, you better believe I thought about leaving. But that would be worse when I got home and someone asked me, "But what if she really IS sick!?" 'Once having set my hand to the plow' and all. As for rainchecks, I think probably she'll let me work something out.

And thank you, Skinnyday, and to answer your question, it's called the Curse of Manhood. So get over it. Or, alternatively, walk it off.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at August 16, 2007 01:44 PM

Hoo boy...I'm glad that Cat is OK now! I guess I would have done the same thing you did: stay there because of how I'd feel if I left the ER and then she got sicker. Yeah, you did the right thing.

Posted by: Stan at August 16, 2007 03:47 PM

I'm ashamed to say, in your absence from here yesterday, I pictured you having moved up to your corner penthouse office, reared back in your leather chair with your feet up on the desk, a cigar clinched between your teeth, having completely forgotten about us little people in need of a possum fix.

Posted by: BillW at August 16, 2007 04:05 PM

"Even a blind hog," Stan, even a blind hog. Or ogre.

And Bill, I believe you have conflated my office at the luxurious Axis of Weevil World Headquarters with my much more modest floor space down one floor and over three offices, with a chair that is completely non-animal based in any way. And I was just clenching my teeth with nothing in betwixt except my tongue, lest I say something even more impolitic.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at August 16, 2007 04:19 PM

I am glad to hear that she is ok; maybe it was a migraine?

Posted by: Leah at August 16, 2007 04:49 PM

Your anniversary, the day Elvis died? & my birthyday, who sez the 16th of August isn't a great day. Conga rats Terry, Miss Reba & you deserve heaps of happiness. I'm glad the adventures of Cat & the Hospital turned out well, better safe than money in the pocket is the watchword?

Posted by: Chef Tony at August 16, 2007 05:00 PM

Leah, I'm not sure, but it sure sounds like it. She's never had one like this before, and hopefully won't again, but it does kinda sound like it.

AND thank you, Chef Tony--it certainly is an auspicious day, that's for sure. Money or no money.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at August 16, 2007 05:02 PM