Okay, so here's what went down last night with my son's scary allergic reaction to the something-bite. Once again, you might not want to read ahead, because it was pretty freaky.
We were playing outside on the back patio. I was about to head off to the church to work on carnival stuff. I came in and Robbie was standing in the doorway, wiping his feet off on the towel, when suddenly he starts crying. Not, like, one of those whimper-into-a-full-fledged-tantrum cries, but a sudden howl, and he's rubbing his hand against his shirt. At first, he said his tummy hurt, so I told him to go ahead and go to the restroom. Once he was there, though, he said he didn't have to go, and his tummy didn't hurt, but his hand hurt, and he was scratching it like crazy. He never stopped crying. I looked, and it was a little red and it looked to me like he'd been stung. Kim put some of his anti-itch ointment on hit, and he said it was burning him, so we washed it off in cold water. He said that was better, but he kept screaming and saying, "I wanna scratch it! I wanna scratch it!" We told him not to scratch it, and we got an ice pack for him after giving him a children's Tylenol and his Benadryl. This whole time, he was asking to be passed back and forth between us, begging us each to hold him, to rock him, to hug him, and when it was clear we weren't making it better, he'd ask for the other. If one of us left the room, he wanted them to come back. He wanted to wash it again. He wanted the ice pack again. The ice pack was too cold. He wanted it. It was too cold. He wanted hugs. All the while, he just never stopped crying.
My first thought was spider bite. But not an ordinary spider bite, because my mind generally tries to figure out worst-case scenarios first, so I went to one of the "bad" spider bites. A brown-recluse, maybe. So I kept trying to look at the bite--when I could pry his wrist away from his constant scratching--but it never started looking a whole lot worse or infected, so I didn't worry too much about the brown recluse. Still, it was something bad, because he didn't stop screaming, so I thought maybe it was a wasp sting after all.
That was when things got scary. While still crying, he started to say "I want to lay down! I want to lay down!" Now, with very young children, the doctors generally tell you that you don't really need to start worrying unless the child begins to behave uncharacteristically. That's how we first discovered Robbie's food allergies. If you've ever been around my boy, you probably understand how strange a behavior "I want to lay down" is for him. The kid NEVER wants to lay down. I've seen him fall asleep sitting straight up once. "I want to lay down. I'm TIIIIRED!" he shrieked.
I asked if he wanted a treat while Kim cradled him. He said yes. I got him a cup of potato chips--one of his favorite snacks. He wouldn't touch them. His skin started getting very warm to the touch as he asked for blankets to cover him because he was cold. Now I'm freaked out. Turning down chips and getting feverish symptoms? Something is seriously wrong. Kim calls the doctor as I take Robbie in my arms. At this point, he's stopped struggling. His entire upper body is just sort of flopping around like a wet noodle. His eyelids are dropping and his eyes are rolling around a bit. I try singing to him, I try talking to him, I beg him to stay awake. "I don't wanna," he says, and suddenly his head flops completely to one side, his eyes closed. I gently nudge him back into a seated position as his eyes slowly flutter open and he whines, "I wanna lay down." He's still crying, but it's a very exhausted moan instead of a howling cry anymore. In fifteen minutes, my ballistically energetic little boy is lethargic, freezing, burning, pale, and fading. I haven't been this scared in YEARS. As we waited for the doctor to call us back, a part of me wondered if I was right, and it was one of the "really bad" bites that we had, and I was in danger of losing my little boy.
The nurses Kim talked to over the phone suggested we give him Benadryl. She said we had. They said that there was the culprit; Benadryl makes children drowsy. Only he'd had Benadryl before. And he wasn't drowsy, he was suddenly losing consciousness!
We finally let him lay down on the couch. I had to cover him with three heavy blankets before he would stop complaining about being cold. He writhed for awhile, clutching his yellow bear. I asked him if I could get him anything else. He said he wanted a car. (For the record, this was the moment when I started to think that maybe he was going to be all right after all) I went to his toy box and got his favorite Doc Hudson (of Pixar's CARS fame) and gave it to him. He clutched the bear in one arm and Doc in the other while the doctor finally called back. She said we had two options: watch him at home, or take him to the E.R. if we were really concerned. Well, given the fact that he appeared to be getting worse every two minutes, and he was now really pale and lethargic, we decided to head out and worry about dinner later.
The first time the entire evening when Robbie started to perk up was when I told him we were going to the hospital. "Oh," he said, suddenly sounding like a shade of himself, "okay!"
I carried him out to the car. I kept an eye on him to make sure he was still awake. However, the adventure of going to the hospital seemed to have brought a lot of life back to the boy. He pointed out the American flags we'd pass on the way (this is a new favorite pastime of his. Think of it like Where's Waldo, only easier and you don't need to have the book to play), and he and I talked about the many different colors we'd see as we drove by objects. I just wanted to keep him talking, and it worked. We chatted the entire way to the hospital. His speech was still slurred (which, again, is pretty unusual for him, because while he often uses nonsense words, he's pretty clear about them), but you could tell he was on the upswing. By the time we got to the hospital, he was just about back to his normal self. He still needed to be cradled while the nurse took his vitals, but once we got back to the observation room he was chatty, playful, and excited. You couldn't tell anything had happened. The doctor came in and asked a lot of question and then suggested we stay for a few hours to monitor him. He said it was likely an allergic reaction, though we didn't know what had caused the biting so we weren't sure what specifically he was reacting to.
After about an hour in the observation room, Robbie was ready to leave, but we told him we had to stay a little bit longer. A couple of nurses came to chat with him for awhile (I don't believe they were technically nurses, but I've forgotten their official titles. One mentioned she was there to help make the situation a little less stressful for the patients and the moms) Robbie was an absolute charmer with those ladies. He sang for them, he told them stories, told them ALL about our last summer vacation...they stayed and talked to him for about fifteen minutes. Then one of the gals brought a few books for him to read. That kept us busy until it was time to go.
Oh, forgot to mention: on the way to the hospital, Robbie had found a Whattaburger. He got very excited about that Whattaburger. So that's how we kept him from getting too gripey at the hospital. I told him that, if he was good, we would run by Whataburger on the way home.
When the doctor asked if we were ready to go home, Robbie said 'YES!' He then said, "We gonna go to Whattaburger Daddy?" He didn't understand why we had to wait for our paperwork when the doctor had just said we could go. Kim finally got him to understand we were waiting on our papers. The nurse who brought our papers bent down to Robbie and asked, "Are you ready to go home?" Robbie's reply was a definite, "No. We are waiting for our papers."
Anyway, the doctor said that reactions like Robbie's sometimes came in two waves: the initial wave had already hit, but sometimes a second wave would come four to six hours later. On rare occasions, though, they had been known to hit a full day after the initial reaction. So I sweated it out a little bit today, wondering if we were going to go through any of that again. Nothing of the sort. If you saw Robbie playing in my office building just after work today, you'd never know there was even a scare last night.
It was such a frightening experience. But, in a bizarre way, it was also nice to have an evening together. You know, once we got past the terror of the first hour and the unfortunate dinner practice of "Cheetos and Famous Amos for dinner followed by 10 p.m. Whattaburger run." You make do with what you have in stressful times. And time spent giving hugs, sharing chocolate chip cookies, watching my son sing or tell stories, or reading books to him is always precious. Even if it is spent on a hospital bed.
Now, I'm behind on my church carnival work, but that'll work itself out.
These things generally do.