10 Things To Do With A Sick Kid

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Travel Stories

Malcolm was sick this week. Ordinarily, this would have been no big deal, and we would just sit around the house doing drugs (if only Ibuprofen,) and watching movies. This was not, however, a minor illness and we had some pretty big plans around here, so the week turned out to be quite the carnival of fun. If you are wonder what to do next time your kid gets sick, wonder no more!!!

1. Go to baseball camp. Most doctor’s recommend rest in a peaceful environment for sick kids. I say, “Bah!” to that. We sent Malcolm to baseball camp on Friday after mistakenly believing his fever had subsided. (That Ibuprofen really works!) When I picked him up from camp, his counselor called him the, “Strong, silent type.” I knew something was drastically wrong. Most of the kids leaving the ball fields that day had red faces because they were sun burned and tired from running, but Malcolm’s was due to a 104 degree fever. When sending your kid to camp with a dangerously high fever, I recommend putting him/her in long, black polyester baseball pants and a sweatshirt like we did, too. It surely makes them feel even worse.

Things not oft heard in an ER: "No seaweed for me, daddy!" and "Can you get the wasabi off of this tuna for me?"

2. Eat sushi in a weird place. (FYI, this does NOT mean jamming sushi in a non-traditional orifice!) After getting home from camp, Malcolm crashed. Even though he was sick and fell asleep at 4:30 in the afternoon, I decided we should keep our big plans for the night: eating sushi and watching the movie, “A Perfect Game.” When he awoke from his nap, his fever spiked to 104.6. To me, that sounded more like a FM rock station than a safe temperature for a human being, so we loaded Malkie and the sushi into the car and headed to the emergency room. We were all pretty hungry when we got there, so while we waited for our turn we ate sushi in the waiting room. Being the classy individuals we are, we used our “white trash chopsticks” (which is another way of saying our thumb and forefinger) as the preferred delivery system. Not all of the families in the waiting room were nauseous in the ER waiting room before we got there, but after we left surely everyone wanted to throw up. Oakland Children’s hospital waiting room people, you are welcome!

3. Take a road trip. The ER doctors assured us that Malcolm had a virus that would work itself out in a day or two, and that we were totally cool taking the week long camping trip we had planned. I am not sure if most people would look at their feverish, lethargic child and decide that the best course of action would be to load the kid in an RV for a five hour drive, but we are not most people. (Does that make us least people?) The trip was pretty weird. Malcolm just sat there. He didn’t watch movies or play games on my phone. For nearly five hours, he stoically looked out the window like an inmate being transferred to a new facility. Strange.

4. Eat fast food. I know when I am sick, I like soup. Some people like crackers. We fed Malcolm a cheeseburger and chocolate shake. Technically, the In And Out “burger” lacked a meat patty and was therefor a grilled cheese sandwich, but still. After four nights of sickness, we attempted to get Malcolm better by pretending he was no longer sick. It didn’t work.

5. Build a crappy fire. I brought a shit-ton of firewood for our camping trip after collecting the wood from a tree that a neighbor chopped down a few years ago. This wood was big and needed chopping, though. I tried using the hand axe we brought and the only thing I succeeding in doing was giving myself four blisters. A fellow camper took pity on me and gave me a better axe, but I still couldn’t break up the giant logs. Having seen the Shining, I thought that if if something is made of wood, you could chop through it with an axe, but evidently, this is not the case. I felt like the guy trying to cut a strip of beef jerky with a spork. I eventually scrounged a meager amount of kindling together and after setting it ablaze dumped some giant logs on top. This succeeded only in making a huge amount of smoke. Fun fact: smoke is bad for sick people. Malcolm was up all night crying and coughing, coughing and crying. We felt awful, but not as awful as Malcolm did. We were getting quite concerned for our little boy.

6. Don’t eat s’mores. Along with “Not Bathing,” s’mores are one of main reasons that people go camping. Malcolm adores s’mores and would probably agree to get really sick if it meant that he could have s’mores when he got better. Under the “pretending he is better” theory of parenting, we offered him s’mores the first and second night of the camping trip. He said (and I quote), “I don’t think I want any s’mores. I just want to go to bed.” Under normal circumstances, I would giddily accept such a request as it would inevitably mean that there were more s’mores (is that redundant?) for me, but this just broke my heart, much in the same way Hillary must have felt when Bill Clinton said, “You know, I don’t think I’m going to get any interns this summer.” Something was definitely wrong.

7. Eat burned bacon in a weird place. (Same thing goes with the orifice.) On Tuesday, I committed a cardinal sin: I burned the bacon. You can end up on whatever side you want with the whole “flabby vs. crisp” bacon debate (I am unapologetically pro-crisp) but no one likes their bacon burned. I burned the bacon, and as we sat down to eat breakfast on Tuesday to this sad reality, Malcolm had a coughing fit so severe that he threw up a pile of foam. I didn’t recall serving him any salmonella-infected foam, so I took this to be a bad sign. I freaked out and demanded that we immediately take him to whatever urgent care facility they had nearby. Luckily for us, there was a hospital ten minutes away, so we packed Malcolm and the burned bacon in the truck and made our way to our second urgent care facility in a week. While we waited for Malcolm’s tests, Amy and I took turns eating in the waiting room. The people there would have preferred that I eat sushi, telling me, “Dude, burning the bacon is a dick move.” I didn’t disagree.

Who needs a camping chair when they have perfectly good beds at the hospital?

8. Play games. We had planned on playing a lot of Scrabble and Yahtzee, but at this point in the week, we were forced to play “Chest X-Ray,” “Get an IV installed” and “The Blood Drawing Game.” After a spelling bee, we learned that the proper way to spell Malcolm’s malady was “P-N-E-U-M-O-N-I-A.” When the doctor told us this, I excitedly fist pumped and exclaimed “Yesssssss!” not because I wanted my son to have pneumonia, but because it meant that he had an illness that he would get some medicine for. Having a child with an undiagnosed illness is way worse than having a child with a diagnosed illness, even when the illness sounds serious and has two consonants in it that normally don’t go together. The doctors again told us that we could continue camping, but just to take it easy (and probably avoid crappy fires.) After filling up prescriptions at the local pharmacy, we headed back to the campsite.

9. Hang out with friends. Most people don’t expose sick children to their friends. We do (remember, we are least people!) We had traveled with our friends Marj and Tracy to the campsite and decided to stay for as long as Malcolm was up for it. Marj and Tracy were amazing, putting up with our stressed out psyches and even giving up their bedroom in the RV so that Amy and Malcolm could hide from the other campsite fires. I hope we don’t repay them by giving them pneumonia.

If you have to pick a place to be sick, we did pretty well.

10. Pretend you’re not sick. Malcolm get incrementally better each day and enthusiastically demanded we do such things as hang out at the beach for an afternoon and golf. He eventually got his appetite for s’mores back and even found the strength to play 10-20 games of Yahtzee a day, sometimes by himself when we all got tired of playing. He beat me at white trash bocce ball (two whiffle balls and a pink golf ball) and even played a little pretend baseball by throwing the whiffle ball into his camp chair. He still took pretty long naps each day and went to bed pretty early, but we felt better at the end of the trip knowing he was on the path to recovery. Sometimes pretending you’re not sick works and sometimes it doesn’t. It finally starting working on Wednesday, and our trip was pretty fun until we finally left on Saturday.

I am sure that in the days preceding your next vacation, you will actively attempt to get your kid sick. It really isn’t as glamorous as I make it sound. Give me a healthy, s’more eating kid, some decent firewood and crisp (unburned) bacon any old time.

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2 responses to “10 Things To Do With A Sick Kid”

  1. Meg Bear says:

    Almost as good as the time I took Jaq on a plane to phoenix with double doses of Tylenol and ibuprofen, inhaler and 10 minutes after throwing up from high fever. Figured after throwing up and then getting Tylenol we could totally make the flight before the next fever spike. I did throw in an extra shirt for each of us before jumping in the cab.. just in case ;-).

  2. We are right there with you. We took our son to France with Pneumonia and he ended up in the hospital in rural Britanny… Oh we also took him on a cruise that didn’t quite end up like we would have liked http://www.daddysincharge.com/2011/02/lost-at-sea.html?m=0

    We all can be idiots sometimes!

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