Saturday, January 8, 2011

What My Little Boy Lost

Yesterday was Jonah's birthday.  He turned six.  It was not a great day.

He hardly slept the night before.  Not out of excitement, but because of constant coughing and wheezing.  He had a cold.  We all have a cold, or a touch of one.  It is rather mild really.  To everyone but Jonah.

I called the advice nurse at two in the morning.  The advice nurses are very helpful.  Usually.  Michael, the registered nurse (he made a point of telling me), was not helpful.

"Does he have retracted breathing?"

"Uh, look, Michael, R.N., I realize that all of the questions you are suppose to ask, pop up on your computer screen, when you are supposed to ask them, but I have no bleeping idea what retracted breathing is.  It is two in the morning and I have not slept and my five year old, no wait.  He six.  Happy birthday, Honey.  My six year old has not slept and he is practically convulsing in my arms from coughing, which he has done for the last twelve hours without ceasing, so if you could tell me what you are talking about, that would be great."

Okay, I didn't say that.  "I don't know what that is," is what I said.

"Can you see his skin go between his ribs when he breathes?"

"I don't know.  He's wearing pajamas.  I don't think so."

Meanwhile, Jonah is having loud coughing fits right into the phone.

"I am going to consult with the doctor.  I'll be right back."

I wait.  Jonah does not die.  Micheal, R.N. returns.

"I don't suppose you have any honey?"

Honey?  Now, I am all for non-pharmaceutical treatment, but honey was not going to help this.

Honey, and follow up with his pediatrician in the morning, was the best Michael could do.  Better than the emergency room in the cold, dark night, I suppose.

Morning came.  The appointment center gave me an appointment at 4:30.  The flip side of the whole nurse-in-the-middle-of-the-night thing, is that I have no way to call my doctor, or even his office, directly and plead my case.  The girl at the call center just gives me the next available appointment.

Well, four thirty was too far away.  He was not going to make it.  So, after I dropped Sam at pre-school, I just kept driving, right on over to the doctor, to see if I could wiggle my way in.

I know the doctor's office reserves mornings for healthy kids.  Babies mostly.  Little itty bitty ones, who need to get check-ups, every third day it seems.  So, I walked to the edge of the waiting room and looked in to see wall to wall bucket-babies.  You know the ones.  Carried everywhere in their detachable car seats.  This was no place for my boy.  So, I sat him on a bench in the hall, got him a swine-flu mask, told him to look pathetic, and went to talk to someone, face to face.  Two lines of my story, and one glance at my poor boy, was enough to get us a golden ticket through the back door.

Three breathing treatments, one chest x-ray, and three prescriptions later, I was told that Jonah has viral asthma.  It turns out, asthma is not a disease, but a reaction to irritation.  Most kids get it in the spring with allergies.  Jonah-boy gets it in the winter, with a cold, however mild.  This is the third year.  The cold, damp air this week seems to be a contributing factor.  This is not good news, especially as we are planning on moving to Washington, where the state motto is, "Come for the cold, Stay for the damp."

I know what you are thinking.  This was the worst sixth birthday ever.  But wait.  It gets worse.

We had planned to take Jonah and his friend Asa (no siblings) to the Japanese place that slices and dices and lights your food right in front of you.  But, that was not going to work out.  I called and canceled the sitter.  I called and canceled Asa.  I called and canceled my sister and brother-in-law.  I didn't have to call and cancel Nana, because she was on her way to Tahiti.  Apparently, all of this escaped Jonah's notice.  Around five o'clock, he asked, "Is Asa going to be here soon?"

I forgot to cancel Jonah.

He was so sad.  Heartbroken really.

"I've lost my whole birthday!"

And, he's right.  He really did.  The whole thing.  Just gone.  But, we promised to make it up to him.  We will.  We promised.  No one will lose a birthday in this family!


  1. Oh how sad, poor Jonah. I hope he gets better soon and has an even better non-birthday birthday! Did he get to open any presents?

  2. Look at those eyes! Awww...he looks miserable. Hope he's better soon! You must be exhausted! Ugh.

  3. Did he like his cake? I'm glad I saw you before I read this...I could see the small amount of humor...and I didn't break down completely!

  4. Poor Jonah. I had a birthday very similar to that the year I turned 28 and I was heartbroken. Heartbroken at 28, so I can just imagine the heartbreak at 6!! He'll most definitely need a birthday-re-do!!! Hope he feels better very soon!

  5. Feel better Jonah! And poor mama. The make-up birthday will be wonderful, I know it. Hugs from Brooklyn.

  6. Poor Jonah, and poor you! My eldest daughter had that viral asthma thing too, except they called her version 'reactive airways disease' and it came with colds and allergies and dust in the air. She is outgrowing it fortunately and I hope Jonah will too!