04 February 2013

Seven Days With a Fever

With the wave of illnesses that surrounded us, we knew that the odds were against us. Sure enough, last Sunday morning Anders woke up sick and with a fever.

He didn't have much in the way of symptoms or complaints, although he would occasionally say that his head or ear hurt when his fever was up. When his temperature was down, he would eat and play just like nothing was wrong. But as soon as his temperature would start to rise, his energy level would drop, he would return to the couch and eventually fall asleep. It was pretty amazing how closely his energy level and behavior tracked with his temperature.

We set up a temporary bed for him on the Great Room couch, and one of us slept on the futon next to him each night. He spent the majority of the last seven days in that spot.

For the first two days, he barely got off that couch at all. His temperature spiked above 103 during that time, so we took him to the doctor. Since he didn't appear to have an ear infection and his chest sounded clear, she recommended that as long as we could manage the fever with NSAIDs (acetaminophen or ibuprofen), we should just let it run its course. We bought some chewable children's Tylenol and Ibuprofen, but Anders hated them. We ended up cutting adult pills down to the appropriate dosage, grinding them with a pestle, and mixing them into a few spoonfuls of strawberry yogurt. This became Anders's "medicine yogurt" and he ate it readily.

Anders did experience some of the benefits of being sick: eating meals on the couch, lots of extra attention, no fixed bedtime schedule, and unlimited TV. I think Anders watched more TV that week than he had in his entire life: documentaries about flamingos, the tropical rainforest, the zoo, and many, many, MANY episodes of his favorite show, Mighty Machines.

When his fever would temporarily abate, Anders would get up and play but he would never say that he was better. He would say that he is "just a little bit better" or "a little bit sick." We're not sure if he actually knew that he hadn't kicked it yet, or if he just didn't want to give up on those extra benefits.

By coincidence, Corinne had already planned to be out of the office with Anders that week. But we still had to do some schedule shuffling, since she was also scheduled to be the "teacher's helper" at Anders's cooperative preschool three times that week. Anders didn't go, of course, but we each went once (while the other watched Anders), and we swapped the third day with another parent.

On the sixth day we thought we were out of the woods, only to see the fever return late in the afternoon. But day seven finally saw the fever break for good.

You can see it all in this cool chart that Corinne made! We tracked Anders's temperature pretty regularly using an infrared ear thermometer that we bought when he was a baby. You can see pretty clearly the effect that the medication had on his fever. (The last couple doses were a result of complaints about an earache, which thankfully did not linger.)

What happens when engineers become parents

Amazingly, neither Corinne nor I succumbed to whatever was ailing Anders. We're still not sure whether he had the flu or some other virus, but we are glad that it's over.

- Mike, Corinne and Anders