Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Benjamin's onset

Last night (Sunday night) Phoebe and I went to bed upstairs. Not like to-bed-to-bed—just, like, sequestered in the bedroom where we did not sleep (because that would be silly). We watched Won't You Be My Neighbour, which made me cry several times, and about a billion episodes of Seinfeld, which did not. 

Andrew texted shortly after midnight to see if there was anything we needed before he went to bed. I responded that we were all good. Phoebe would be asleep soon (hahahaha) and then I'd go to bed and he was like, "Headed there myself. So tired."

He slept downstairs with Benjamin. But only partially so. 

Because Andrew tested positive on Sunday morning, he was sleeping in the entertainment room (where he could still be accessible to the kids downstairs) and he put Benjamin up in the music room (with the windows wide open to give him plenty of air circulation). 

Around 1:00 in the morning I heard a lot of footsteps. I checked my phone to see if Andrew had texted me anything. Nothing. I heard more footsteps. And more footsteps. And not much else because I have this Corsi-Rosenthal box running in the bedroom. 

I thought about texting him to tell him to get to bed (because I'm a nag like that sometimes) but then figured that he was a big boy. He could take care of himself. So I put my phone down and...proceeded to fight with Phoebe about whether or not we should sleep until 3 or 4 in the morning. 

Imagine my shock when I woke up—rather late—on Monday morning and found a string of texts from Andrew, announcing that @1:11 Benjamin vomited all over the floor (fortunately he managed to sprint almost all the way off the rug, getting most everything on the wood floor, which is easier to clean up), @1:23 the positive line showed up on his COVID test, @1:35 threw up again (not sure where; I know he threw up on the bathroom floor once and another place...the kid was trying to make it to the toilet), @1:41 he threw up again...and again and again and again and again and again and again...

They gave up sleeping and played LEGO Star Wars together, but Benjamin wasn't really into it. He'd just move his character around and ask for Andrew to hand him his bowl. 

When I went downstairs to check on them they were both fast asleep. I took their temperatures (seriously, this wand thermometer is super cool). Andrew was 98-something. Benjamin was 103°F. 

I went downstairs to check on the basement crew. Miriam and Phoebe (who'd obviously come with me to check on the basement crew) had slight fevers. Everyone else was fine. I doled out some ibuprofen to Miriam and Phoebe and then made breakfast for those who wanted breakfast—freshly microwaved oatmeal with freshly chopped peach slices because I was feeling gourmet. This was going to be a good day!

I kept the kids downstairs and happy (more or less) so those two boys upstairs could sleep. 

Benjamin's fever was high, I reasoned, but not unreasonably high. Not so bad that another few minutes of sleep would do him more harm than good. 

I went upstairs to put Phoebe down for a nap, but I'm pretty sure Andrew was up by then. I'm pretty sure I told him that I had re-dosed our feverish kids and filled out the chart. I'm pretty sure that I told him that I hadn't woken Benjamin up to give him anything. 

So Phoebe went down for a nap and I did some writing. Because I mostly just can't sleep. I'm too anxious for that at the moment. And when Phoebe woke up we went downstairs to "check on the kids."

Checking on the kids is one of Phoebe's favourite things to do, especially now. She was so lonely when everyone was isolating! 

So she and I made our way downstairs to find Daddy trailing Benjamin around the house asking questions.

Benjamin stopped at the table and picked up a pen.

"Hey! What are you doing?" Andrew asked urgently. 

I didn't hear Benjamin's response. But it seemed pretty obvious he was picking up a pen. He put it back down on the table, pushed it around for a few minutes and then walked away. 

Andrew followed. 

So did I. 

Into the kitchen. 

A stop at the fridge. 

Benjamin pushed some buttons on the ice and water dispenser. 

"What are you doing?" Andrew asked again.

This time I heard Benjamin's response: "Arffffssshhhhleeefff."

He went over to the dishwasher and bounced around a few times, seeming to be trying to shake his pant legs down (his pyjama bottoms were kind of bunched up around his knees). 

"Hey, what are you doing? Do you need something?"

He grunted, puttered around by the sink, spotted the toaster, started fiddling with buttons and levers and things.

"Benjamin!" I said sternly.

"I have to cross off the movie," he said, still fiddling with the toaster.


"I just have to cross off the movie. Just cross it off. Cross. It. Off. Crossin' it off. Crossing this movie off."


He shook his head and finally made eye contact with me. 


"What are you doing?"

"Getting water."

"You're thirsty. Where is your water bottle?"

His eyes glazed over.




"Your water bottle is in your bed. Where were you sleeping? Do you remember?"


"Benjamin. Benjamin. BENJAMIN!"

Eye contact again.

"Let me take your temperature, okay? Follow me."

He followed me out of the kitchen. But he did not stop when I stopped. He started crawling up the stairs.

"Benjamin! What are you doing? Where are you going? I have the thermometer right here?"


"Look! Come here! Let's take your temperature. Huh. It's normal. But, look. Here are your drinks from earlier. Why didn't you just grab one of those? You're still thirsty? Look. You have ginger ale here. And some water. What would you like?"

"I'm so thirsty."

"I know. I know. Have a drink."


"Benjamin. Why are you doing that? If you're thirsty just drink something. Stop being silly."


"It's fine. Just sit down and drink something."

He sat on the stairs. I brought him some water to sip. Andrew ran upstairs to get ready to go to the hospital...with Benjamin.

"Hey, Benjamin," I said, joking...thinking we had him...back... "Who's the president of the United States?"


"What kind of an answer is that? Who is the president?"


"What do you mean horse?"



Eye contact.

"Who. Is. The. President."


"That's right. Why are you doing that? Like, what even? You're scaring us."

He hung his head in shame. 

"I'm just playing Minecraft."

"What do you mean you're just playing Minecraft."

"I'm sorry. I was in the cave. And it took too long."

"What are you talking about?"

"I'm thirsty."

"Then drink. Why would you joke about not knowing who the president is? That's, like, so ridiculous. What gives? Are you bored or something? Just trying to trick us?"

"Yeah, that."


"I'm bored."

"Well, that's a cruel joke."

"What is?"

"Do you know who the president is or not?"


"BENJAMIN!!! New question. Look, look! Who is this?"


"Who am I holding?"

He squints at me. "My blanket."

"No! Benjamin! Not a blanket! This is your sister!"


"Yes! Your sister. What's her name?"

"I don't know. I was just trying to get some more granite."

"And...we're back at Minecraft."

"Mine...craft? Minecraft. Yes!"

"Benjamin! So help me if you're just kidding."

"I am. I'm sorry."

"You're joking?"


Andrew joined us downstairs again and tried to reason with him.

"Look, Benjamin. Benjamin. BENJAMIN. We have to figure out whether you're having a stroke or something, whether you're just worn out, or whether you're being a jerk. What is it?"

"Second one!"

"And what was that?"

An unfair question, honestly, because I can't remember what three options Andrew gave him either. I only know that there were three. One of them was "having a stroke" and one of them was "being a jerk" and Benjamin chose the middle one, which was not either of those two.

"I just need more water."

That was not the option Andrew gave, but was probably true.

"You have water. You're holding water. Take a sip. But, tell me—what was the second one?"

Benjamin sighed heavily and hit himself in the head a few times.

"I'm trying to remember! You gave me two options. I chose the second... NO! Three! You gave me three options!"

"But what were they? What were the options?"

"I'm thinking!"

"They were hard to remember. Can you remember any of the options?"


"How about...who...was the first person in the family to get sick?"


"That's right!"

"She fell off the cliff when she was trysheneniiiiikgluuurp."

"Benjamin, do we need to take you to the hospital?"


"That's it. We're leaving," Andrew announced. "Can you find your shoes?"

He stood up. He sat down. He shuddered.

"BRING ME MY BOWL!" he bellowed.

I have never seen Andrew sprint so fast! He brought Benjamin his bowl. They left for the children's hospital a few minutes later. 

The waiting room was filled to capacity with children. Most of whom were there for COVID. 

Andrew and Benjamin were moved to an overflow area, along with several other patients—the MRI area—to wait for the doctor. When they eventually saw him, the doctor said we were right to come in. Altered mental status is...nothing to trifle with.

Which we know! 

Andrew and I have only seen this level of "confusion" once...just before Karen went to the hospital.

But, they determined that Benjamin was just exhausted and dehydrated and feverish and COVID makes your brain do weird stuff. So he was stuck in a dream-type state or hallucinating or something. No sign of anything terrible. His cough was bad, but not to pneumonia level yet, so they didn't suspect sepsis or anything. They dosed him with Zofran and then, after waiting for it to kick in, gave him something to drink. He kept that down, so they sent him home with a prescription for Zofran and instructions to keep him hydrated and monitor him for further "mental confusion."

They didn't get home until around 8:00 PM (they left the house at 3:00 or so) and Benjamin really looked a lot better. But we didn't want him sleeping in his bunkbed, so he and Andrew made up beds in the entertainment room.

Andrew fell asleep almost immediately (because the only thing more fun than having COVID is having COVID and taking care of seven other people with COVID).

Benjamin played LEGO Star Wars and sipped at his various liquids until he was ready for sleeping. 

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