My Imaginary Memoir Will Be Titled, “Well, It Could Have Been Worse….”

When something shitty happens, it is inevitable that someone is going to tell you to be grateful for whatever is less than shitty. I get it, I do. My imaginary memoir is titled, “Well, It Could Have Been Worse….” But sometimes I just want to wallow a little bit in the unfairness of things that are, well, unfuckingfair.

Halloween is my favorite holiday. I look forward to it all year long — sometimes we are already planning next year’s costumes before this year has come and gone.

Yesterday, we went to Barktoberfest — a Halloween celebration for dogs. Yep.

I finished Lorelei’s outfit and makeup and she looked at herself and gasped, “Mommy. This is perfect. Just perfect!!!” She had so much awe in her voice as she saw her costume vision come to life. I didn’t even care that my costume had not worked out to completely fill my own vision.

We won second place in the costume contest (last year we won first place, and are still going through the dog treats we received as the prize!).

My plan is to wait and share photos after tomorrow in hopes that I will get some better pictures.

But now I’m not sure to what extent Halloween is even going to happen this year.

Rowan had a little bit of a cough and runny nose yesterday. It was not particularly concerning, other than the frustration that he was sick again. I should have expected it, after all, it had been almost a week since his last illness.

Last night was horrible. He couldn’t sleep for coughing. He’d sleep for a few minutes and then start coughing and sleeping. Finally, at about 3am I asked Zach to give him a nebulizer treatment. Around 6am I took him into the living room, hoping that sitting in the recliner would help. He continued to dose and cry.

We are lucky to have a pediatrician who has weekend hours, from 8-10. After a second neb treatment he was still coughing and wheezing, so I took him in. The line was long, and it’s first-come-first-served. His breathing worried the receptionist, and she offered to take us straight back. I felt like he was doing ok, so I declined.

I had him in the carrier and walked him around the waiting room for half an hour or so. At one point he started having a coughing fit and threw up all over both of us. Then he did it again, including a couple panicked moments where he clearly couldn’t catch his breath.

Let me take a break to tell you this story.

A dad walked into the office with his little girl. He was wearing dress clothes, like maybe they were on their way to church. He walks straight to the back of the waiting room, lies down on the floor, and starts exercising. He’s back there doing leg lifts, switching from side to side and to his back. Then he stands up and starts doing stretches, before lying back down to do pushups. On the waiting room floor.

My friend tried to convince me to go strike up a conversation, figuring that anybody who would do pushups on the floor of the pediatrician’s waiting room is probably the type to tell you their whole life story within minutes of an introduction.

I was intrigued, though not enough to go chat with Mr. Exercise. I was trying to make up stories about why he absolutely had to lie supine on the waiting room floor in his Sunday best. Why couldn’t it wait a couple of hours? Was it like the movie Speed? If he stopped exercising was he going to blow up? I couldn’t decide if I was horrified, or absolutely impressed with this dude’s level of dedication and self-confidence.

It was a nice break from the whole being covered in yogurt-breastmilk-puke.

Once we were back in an exam room and I had gotten Rowan undressed, it quickly became apparent that he was struggling to breathe more than I had realized. His skin was retracting up under his ribs all the way around, as well as supraclavicular retractions. His 02 sat was decent, staying around 96%, but he was tachypneic and tachycardic.  They gave him a more concentrated nebulizer, which finally let him relax enough to doze off. He woke up when the nurse came in to give him some steroids and just sat completely silently and still in my lap.


The NP came to check on him. The last two years have made me fairly adept at reading worry on the face of healthcare professionals. She came back a few minutes later with one of the doctors. After looking him over they said, “we’re going to go discuss.”

They needn’t have left the room, I knew they were going to decide to send him to Duke. Sure enough, they came in and said that they were calling an ambulance for transport. They were concerned that he was not moving enough air with each breath, and that the effort of breathing was causing him to become fatigued.

So that’s how I ended up taking my second ambulance ride to Duke.

As we pulled up into the ambulance loading dock area I suddenly saw myself 18 months ago. I remembered being the one on the stretcher, tears streaming down my face, terrified of what was to come.


They said to take him straight back into the pediatric ER. Another neb treatment seemed to perk him up. He had been very lethargic and still when we arrived but perked up after that breathing treatment. He was grinning at everyone, and just generally being much more like Rowan.


As we were sitting there in the hospital bed he managed to learn two signs. He kept getting a little confused between “all done” and “milk” but had fun alternating between those and, “more.” Every time someone came in the room he said, “heeeey!” He took about a million selfies on my phone.

After a few hours they discharged us with instructions to keep up the nebulizers, and with an rx for steroids.


Lorelei spent the afternoon with my aunt and uncle, watching the Duke blue/white game. This may be the most long-term effect of the situation, should she end up being a Duke fan because of this. She also missed her last running club of the season.

Not getting to go with Zach to the hospital upset Lorelei. She said, “Last time you said mommy was only going to be gone for a few minutes and then she was gone for three days. And then she came back and then she was gone for THREE MONTHS.” To a kid there is not much difference between three weeks and three months. She made her point clear;  the hospital scares her. And for good reason.

We had been home for a few hours when I stepped out of the room to get a drink of water. I heard Rowan start screaming, but couldn’t figure out what he had done. He kept rubbing his forehead, so I figured he had bonked it. Sure enough, a little while later I looked at him and saw a giant goose egg. Poor kid had a rough day!

goose egg

So, as usual, I know I shouldn’t worry about Halloween. I know I should just be grateful that it wasn’t worse. But I can’t help but feel a little sorry for myself, a little like the universe is kicking me when I’m down.  I was planning to take tomorrow off work with Lorelei. The daycare costume parade is tomorrow, and we have been looking forward to it. Now we’ll be home with Rowan, who will hopefully be breathing more easily.


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