This week. Wow.
Your (little) brother developed a nasty-looking rash in an odd place. While meeting with a specialist for his reflux issues this week, she noticed and suggested I get it tested for Strep. Huh?
In short, your adorable, perfect, happily content (except for the two weeks of intense and unsatisfied itchiness) has Strep. In a place where one should never, ever have Strep.
Thankfully, it's not like having Strep Throat. He really isn't "sick" at all, just some unsavory red spots and some antibiotics, and a mommy who feels really, really bad.
So when your (older) brother woke up Friday morning with a fever and a sore throat, I immediately asked Google if it were possible for strep in location "X" to turn into Strep in location "Y" on someone else. It is.
I called the doctor, who called in the Amoxicillin I waited in line at the pharmacy counter for the second time in as many days and by the time I got home to give him his first dose, a new symptom had reared its ugly head. Painful, blistering sores all over the inside of his mouth. Reluctantly, I consulted Google while I waited for the doctor to call back. Again. We ended up driving in for the last open slot of the weekend for the confirmation. Hand, foot, and mouth disease. Huh?
The doctor explained that this was a virus, capable of producing an impressive fever and typically, three to four days of intense, painful sores all over one's hands, feet, and mouth. He went on to say that its pretty rampant at day cares and preschools, and that he was "shocked" we hadn't gotten it yet, offering an apologetic chuckle.
Sarcastically, I thanked him for his diagnosis and knowing better, asked...well begged for a prescription of some kind, reminding him of my six week old at home. He repeated that antibiotics don't work on viral infections, and told me to keep them in separate rooms. As I picked up my increasingly uncomfortable and lethargic five year old and headed for the parking lot, he patted me on the back. "Good luck."
So here we are. Day three of quarantine. One boy and one parent in one room, the other in another down the hall. Sanitize and switch. Console and rotate. Twenty four seven.
Friday night was bad. After an hour of snuggling and soft, painful whimpers, your older brother fell asleep in my arms. Gently, I lay his head onto his pillow and made my way to the living room. Your father had just given your (little) brother his antibiotic and sat down next to me. After thirty minutes the shrieking began.
I'm not sure I can do it justice, the feeling you get as a parent when your child is in pain and there is nothing you can do to help. He was sitting up in bed, barely conscious, shaking, crying and covering his mouth as if to cradle the pain. As if it would help.
We had given him his medicine an hour before, so there was nothing more to do but to hold him as he cried. Two hours passed and he finally gave in, falling asleep and continuing to moan throughout the night. I laid there next to him, listening helplessly and waking to feed the baby at two, and switching places with your father for the remainder of the night.
The next morning your poor brother stared at his donut and cried. And I had to leave the room because I was ready to do the same.
I wanted it to be Strep. On the way to the doctor it's all I could think about. Strep is familiar. It's common. We know Strep. Strep is do-able.
But it wasn't Strep. It was this awful, horrid other thing. And we weren't prepared and there is no medicine and there was nothing I could do but watch.
I think back to when you died, how intense the pain was then. How systemic. How nothing helped. How sometimes it hurt so bad that I went numb, to the outside world, to every over-the-counter remedy and well-meaning friend. How there was no antiviral, no magic drug to make it better. How you have to suffer. To endure. How you have to feel the extent of the pain. Every single drop, until the smiles don't sting.
And I wish it were better understood, that some pain can't be lessened and some sadness never leaves. That the blistering, festering tissues scar, until eventually you can swallow again but the remnants remain. And one day something snags and they open again, as gaping and as vulnerable as the day it began. And it can't be fixed. Shouldn't be.
And as much as it breaks your heart, all one can do is climb into bed beside it. Holding tight, until the wailing stops.