Last week Benjamin began complaining of pains in his belly.
He's our kid who's always complaining about something hurting. For years he'd come to us nightly about pain in his right elbow, then his left, pain in his big toe, pain in his shoulder, now his knee hurts, now his wrist. And we'd always just tell him they were growing pains and that he should just go to sleep (since that's when bodies do a lot of their growing and healing).
Usually this ended up fine because there wasn't anything wrong.
Once he complained about his neck hurting before bed and I was like, "Huh. Well, I'm sure it will feel better in the morning." And then he woke up with a majorly swollen neck because apparently he'd been stung by a bee earlier in the day and it was really starting to bother him. And then I felt really bad that I'd ignored his complaints.
But it's kind of hard not to when he unleashes his nightly litany of agonies.
Now, it just so happens that after I got an ice pack for his neck, I hopped onto Facebook to confess to the world what an inattentive, unsympathetic mother I am.
I like to think that I'm fairly cognizant of my faults—there are many of them! And I know I've made a ridiculous—though honestly probably about average—number of bad calls about things. And, you know, I just like to keep things real.
Things at this house can get pretty...wild.
So I hopped on Facebook and I was like, "Guys! My child got stung by a bee and I told him to sleep it off because I didn't bee-lieve him!" (That's not a direct quote, but its what I say in my head when I retell this story to myself).
People began sharing their stories of ignoring what they things are illegitimate childhood complaints, only to have things wind up very very legit.
For example, my friend Catharine had a child complaining of a dreadful stomach ache for a few days. The parents tried to play things down. But the child kept playing things up. What an annoying kid!
It was the weekend and they really didn't want to go into the InstaCare or—worse—the ER, so they told the child to hang tight until Monday.
(Gotta love the American medical system).
And then the child's appendix ended up bursting in the middle of the night so they ended up at the ER anyway and it would have been a whole lot better if they had just gone in before it ruptured.
And then my friend Tori chimed in with this story:
When you have a child that complains at least three times a week that her belly hurts and she can’t sleep—sometimes you just snap at them and tell them to go to bed instead of being patient or really looking into their eyes. The doctor said it was the biggest appendix he had ever seen that hadn’t ruptured. She missed Audrey’s baptism the next day because she was in the hospital. We had people in town. It was a mess...
(Not to mention the time my sister swallowed a pencil and my mom didn't believe her...until she finally caved and took her to the doctor where an x-ray revealed...a pencil inside of my sister. And Benjamin has a history of shooting LEGO missiles down his throat...so if it wasn't his appendix, perhaps it was something stuck in his digestive tract?)
So, here I have Benjamin who has been complaining about a stomach ache...for about a week. Sleeping it off isn't working. He keeps complaining about it and it's getting worse and worse. He's describing sharp, stabbing pains. Sometimes he doubles over in pain. He can't lie down or sit up without wincing and moaning. He complains of feeling nauseous, that he's just not hungry, that he needs to lie down.
A week of this!
And in spite of these horror stories running through my mind, I stay the course! There's nothing wrong with this kid! He's fine! He has no fever! He was just out sword fighting in the cul-de-sac because the kids just won't drop that Gladiator game (and swords drop from the trees like...sticks...they're just...everywhere...all the time). So, you see, there can't be anything wrong with him.
But still, I have these horror stories nibbling at my brain.
So on Wednesday morning we left the house in the morning to have a walk before starting our lessons, as a way to wake up our minds and feel fresh and ready to take on things like...math. Alexander, Zoë, and Benjamin decided they're ride their scooters around the block rather than walking.
Fine with me.
They zoom off ahead while Rachel, Miriam, and I walk behind (pushing Phoebe). It's a lovely morning. Birds are singing, flowers are blooming, the sky is blue and clear. Maybe we'll go to the park after lunch, I think to myself.
But as we're making our way down the hill to our house, Zoë and Alex run toward us yelling about how Benjamin threw up.
And, yes, there's Benjamin, hunched over the neighbour's lawn, wiping off his mouth, having just thrown up.
Because of those stomach pains, he tells me.
That was concerning.
We made our way inside and I told Andrew to rearrange his schedule because I was pretty sure he was about to head to the ER, and then I called the doctor, who agreed that the ER is the place to be.
My response to that advice was, "Ugh. Seriously?!" (that is a direct quote) because deep down inside I had been hoping she'd tell me that probably nothing was wrong.
Instead the doctor (technically the triage nurse) was like, "Seriously."
"But he doesn't even have a fever!" I protested.
"But he doesn't even have a fe..." I heard the triage nurse echo in a whiny, high-pitched voice, but of course that was only in my head.
What she actually said was: "He doesn't need a fever. A fever is evidence of a ruptured appendix, which we'd like to avoid. His symptoms are severe enough that I'd like you to take him to the ER."
So Andrew took Benjamin to the ER.
Those boys were at the ER all day!
They couldn't find the appendix on the ultrasound, which was good news. It didn't entirely rule out appendicitis, but the appendix wouldn't be very inflamed yet if it was appendicitis, since, you know, they couldn't find it (though my dad will tell you that when he had appendicitis, the doctors had a hard time finding his appendix because it was so swollen that they couldn't recognize it). An x-ray, however, revealed...some massive constipation!
So we spent a good $1000 at the ER only to walk away with a prescription for...Miralax.
Benjamin has been tied to the toilet ever since but is feeling much better.
A little sheepish, but quite a bit better overall.
(And this totally makes up for the time that I sent him to bed with a bee sting, right?)