Well, week two of my recovery is proving to be completely different from week one. As I mentioned in my last post, at the start of week one I got a fever. It came on quite suddenly. My feet began to feel like they had just walked twenty miles in Antarctica. That’s strange, I thought. I asked Tim to get me the down blanket and wool throw from our bed and I sat on the recliner with both blankets on top of me sure I would feel warm any second. Wrong. Now Antarctica had entered my arms and legs. I started to shake.
“I think you should take your temperature,” Tim suggests.
I had 101 fever.
“I can’t believe this!” I shout out. “Not on my Mommy Vacation!”
Did I say mommy vacation? The day before I went to the hospital I was thinking about this a lot, how an operation is the best , and if you have insurance, the cheapest mommy vacation ever. Imagine, you are chauffeured to your destination and then back home with no responsibility to do a thing? If the kids need someone they must go to daddy because you have been sequestered to your room with “doctor’s orders” to do nothing but rest. You don’t even need to fake a panic attack like mothers did in days gone by to get some rest. You finally had a real break.
“I need to call my surgeon’s office,” I tell Tim.
“Why? I’m sure you have my fever virus.”
“Because I just had a major operation and what if this is not from you? I don’t get fevers,” I tell him.
I call the doctor. His nurse tells me they are concerned but if the fever does not go up and goes away by tomorrow it is probably just something I caught from Tim.
The next day I have no fever in the morning.
Mommy vacation saved! I think to myself as I pull out another book to read.
By six in the evening, though, my fever is climbing to 101 again. In the morning I am weak, even without much fever.
At 2pm my fever started rising again and this time nothing was bringing it down. By 7pm I had 101.9.
“I’ve got to call the doctor,” I tell Tim. “It’s irresponsible after a major operation to not call the doctor with high fever.”
Tim and I both knew what the doctor was going to tell us: go to the emergency room.
“The best medical advice I can give you is to go to the emergency room,” Dr. Chermnosky told me over the phone. “How quickly can you get there?”
“Well, we have a ten and eleven year old so we’re not leaving immediately,” I tell her. “Maybe in an hour or so.”
After I hung up the phone I tell Tim the news. “How are we going to go to the emergency room with the kids?”
“I’ll call Gail.”
Gail has been our good neighbor many times, but tonight she is our bad neighbor because she is not answering her cell phone.
“What do we do?” I ask Tim.
“Maybe we just leave the kids at home on their own,” he suggests.
Home alone? I don’t even think it is legal to leave a ten and eleven-year-old home alone. Sure, this is the first year I have occasionally popped out for ten minutes to the pharmacy and left them alone, but Tim is suggesting leaving them alone at night for hours with us twenty minutes away.
“Ten minutes,” Tim corrects me.
“Twenty if you count the amount of time it takes to walk from the emergency room to our car,” I snap back at him. “We’ve got to really think this through.”
Unfortunately my fever is so high now I am incapable of thinking through anything more complex than getting on my sneakers.
“Whatever you want to do,” I tell Tim.
Five minutes later Jacob, our eleven-year-old, runs upstairs and tells me excitedly, “I have figured out how I can order two Beybladers and the Beyblade Metal Fusion Rapid Deploy Case! I think I have enough money!”
“Has dad told you I need to go to the emergency room?” I ask him.
“Yes!” Jacob responds, saluting me like I was his captain.
“Are you okay with us leaving you alone?”
“Sure! If you leave after I fall asleep I won’t even know you’re gone.”
That makes sense, I guess.
“Mom,” he says to me. “Can I be the doggie and you order me to go take a shower?
“Take a shower, doggie!” I tell him, amused that me going to the emergency room seems to have little impact on him.
“Are you okay with mommy and daddy going out after you go to sleep?” I ask Aden as he crawls into bed.
“Absolutely. I don’t see what the big deal is,” Aden responds.
Okay, I think, maybe mommy is the only one who thinks leaving two children under the age of twelve at home alone at night is not right. Maybe I am unstable, or uncool, or just feeling like I am a bad mom for not being in the home to listen to your every breath.
We arrive at the hospital and my temperature is high, but my blood pressure is even worse.
“123 over 70,” the nurse tells me. “Perfect.”
No, this is not perfect blood pressure for me. My normal is “92 over 57.” I know this is low blood pressure, but it is my normal. The blood pressure she just told me means I am under extreme stress. It must be the kids’ home alone, I think to myself.
“Calm down,” Tim tells me. “They will be fine.”
My emergency room experience is about the best I could have. I think I might have been their only patient. In two hours they had drawn blood, checked my urine, checked out the area where I had the operation, hooked me up to an IV bag to rehydrate me, did a chest x-ray, and took a throat swap for the flu.
“It looks like you can probably thank your husband for this fever virus,” the ER doctor says with a smile.
Tim smiles back.
“Thanks Honey!” I say.
“Do you have kids?” The ER doctor asks us.
I pray Tim does not tell her the kids are home alone. Not only had I not stopped thinking about whether the kids were okay, I was very aware that twelve is the minimum age you can legally leave kids at home alone. She could report us to Child Protective Services. I have read those articles in line at the supermarket checkout about how children are taken away from their well-meaning parents who technically broke a child protection law, but really did not harm their children. All this ER doctor has to do is make one phone call and we will be a headline story.
“They’re home asleep,” Tim says.
“We have a great neighbor,” I jump in, which we do except this time she wasn’t watching them.
The ER doctor smiles. “Well, get home to your kids.”
And that is exactly what we did. The moment we got home I told Tim, “I’m going to go check on them.”
They were alive and fast asleep.
Thirty-minutes later I am in the shower getting ready for bed and suddenly I have the best thought of my parenting life: one day, in the not-so-distant-future Tim and I are going to be able to go out to a movie on our own at night with the kids at home. They are going to be okay. No, they are going to be thrilled that we are not at home with them and might play the Wii until the moment they hear our key in the door. My blood pressure may rise on the first few outings, but eventually it will go back down to my normal, “92 over 57.” When the kids leave home in their late teens I will be sad.
But, then again, maybe that will be okay too.