Whenever I hear about something scary happening to another child that I had never heard before, I go on high alert. How can I avoid this with my own kids?
Decker and I are on our 4th night on the 7th floor of Boston Children’s Hospital in the middle of a Global Pandemic and the reason has nothing to do with the pandemic. He woke up last Sunday and couldn’t walk. We thought he twisted his ankle during any number of the things he’s been doing around the house these days – sports, flying down the driveway on his bike, trampoline flips, fort crashes, and jumps off the swing. He has bumps and bruises and cuts all over him. I’ll never forget my pediatrician saying to me 2 years ago when I nervously chuckled about the appearance of his legs: “Active little boys are are supposed to be covered in those. I get more nervous when they aren’t.”
He begged us not to go into the doctor’s office because, like the rest of us in the entire world, he is scared of COVID and the unknown. Instead we did a Telehealth appointment and decided to wait 24 hours to see if it got better or worse. The next day he could move with Tylenol so we chalked it all up to something that would get better on its own. There was no cut, bruise, or marking of any kind. There wasn’t even any swelling. That night he was up shrieking in pain, again better with Tylenol. The next morning we went into the office with nothing to see. She ordered an X-Ray and it showed nothing. We decided it was a sprain and would monitor it. That night he was in pain so we went to the office the next day. We were rushed to Children’s Hospital with a temperature of 99. Things happened like rapid fire after that. If you’re ever wondering what the apocalypse looks like, it’s on an ER floor during the COVID crisis. We feel so lucky to be at a hospital full of children and low cases. We had no idea how scary and downright horrible the next 3 days would be, and we are still here…hoping for better, less scary answers on day 5.
What I do want to say in the meantime is this (because I know I’d have the same question on the other side) –
There is nothing you can do to stop this from happening to your child. Not washing their hands more or cleaning your house more or disinfecting their cuts. You can’t protect your child from this unless you put them in a bubble. Bacteria can find its way in the tiniest of surfaces whether it’s a big gash or a paper cut or a microscopic opening in the nasal tissue. We are covered in staph, and it laughs at your Neosporin. And sometimes, if you’re really fucking unlucky, it will travel inside your sweet little 6 year old son’s body, find a pocket in the back of his growing bone, and bury itself stubbornly until you are on your knees begging for mercy.
I have asked the same question to every doctor, surgeon, physical therapist, infectious disease specialist and radiologist on his team and the answer is always the same:
What can I do differently so this won’t happen again to him or to another one of my kids?
Nothing…because the benefits of having an active kid far outweigh the small chance of this happening. I’m sorry I don’t have better news.
I refuse to put my kid in a bubble; and I can’t wait to watch him play sports, fly down the driveway on his bike, flip on the trampoline, crash a fort, and jump off the swing again.