I have a sick child home today.  She was sick yesterday too and from everything I can tell she will be home the rest of the week.

My kid has H1N1.

Or maybe it’s strep throat. No one seems to know and they don’t really want to find out.

My daughter has a fever, 102 the last time I checked, and with Tylenol or Motrin I can only get it down to about 100. She has a horrible cough that sounds like she has a two pack a day habit. She doesn’t want to talk, her voice sounds funny she says, but that doesn’t stop her from whining.

Her school doesn’t want her to come back for seven days.

That’s right, SEVEN days!

I called her doctor and was lucky enough to have the assistant call me back. I say lucky enough because when I called the doctor I was given the option to press 7 (not really a lucky number today) to learn more about the H1N1 flu. The recording tells me that children with high fever, chills, no appetite, cough and runny nose should stay home, not come to the doctor. The recording goes on to say that most kids recover just fine at home within 5-7 days. The recording then tells me that if my child turns blue I should seek medical attention.

Got it, blue kid means a trip to the ER.

What the recording doesn’t tell me is how I am supposed to treat the other non-blue symptoms. I’ve been giving my daughter Childrens Motrin every five hours. The package tells me to give her two tablets every 6-8 hours but I couldn’t read the writing on the package until my son came home. His arms are longer than mine. Even though I was giving her the medication an hour early I still kept the total dosage under four per day. Her fever was spiking by 5 hours so I gave it to her early. I’m probably setting her up for all kinds of addictions but I’d rather not chase the fever. But this concerned me enough to call the doctor.

I’ve had sick kids before, I know the drill. Lots of fluids and rest. Food isn’t a necessity, if they aren’t hungry don’t force them to eat. Fluids are important however.

Fevers freak me out. I don’t get fevers. I run cold. I’m rarely at 98.6. I’m lucky if I hit 97.0. My blood pressure runs low too so maybe I’m dead. My kids do get fevers and I don’t like it. I grew up in the time of Little House on the Prairie, Gunsmoke, The Waltons and all those other shows that took place before modern medicine was readily available. There was always an episode when one of the characters developed a fever and had to be immersed in an ice bath to get the fever down. It rarely helped. Mary still went blind.

I also know that kids can handle higher fevers than adults can. A 102 fever would stop me in my tracks but my kids can still watch tv, play on their Nintendo DS, color pictures and torture the cat.

So I wanted reassurance from the doctor that what I was doing was the right thing. And that my kid wouldn’t go blind and need to be shipped off to a school for the blind banished to a life of reading little bumps and staring off into the distance. In the book Mary was a sad pathetic creature after her scarlet fever, in the show they made her a dynamo who opened a school of her own, married some other blind person and lived happily every after. My daughter couldn’t handle being blind, with perfect eyesight she still bumps into the coffee table three times a day.

I didn’t expect a call from the doctor and I didn’t get one but I did get a call from her assistant. She said to alternate Tylenol and Motrin, every 4 to 6 hours as needed. She also mentioned if my daughter wasn’t feeling better in 24-48 hours that she should come in and get a throat culture to check for strep.

I know medicine isn’t an exact science but there seems to be a pretty big window here. If she has strep the fever isn’t likely to subside until she starts taking antibiotics. If she has H1N1 the antibiotics will do no good. I understand why they don’t want her coming to the office but the wait and see attitude isn’t helping this presbyope mother very much.

I miss my father at times like these. Not only would he simply pull out his otoscope and take a look at her throat but he’d make her take a quick peek at the eye chart to reassure me she wasn’t going to go blind.

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