Feeling like a useless nurse

I’m coming up on my 7th year as a nurse. I’d like to think I’m fairly competent and a pretty good choice to ask basic medical things to. I may not be a doctor, but I’m practical, and if I don’t know, I’ll say, “I don’t know.”

Monday night, when I finished teaching my classes at the gym, I went to get the kids at the daycare. Karen looked at me and mouthed, “So. Dramatic.” I looked puzzled for a minute and then Claire said, “Mommy, my knees hurt so bad…” then she started to sniffle.

I chalked it up to her running a mile the day previously, said we’d ice it and give her some ibuprofen and call it a day.

Tuesday morning comes around and Claire crawled into bed with me. Matt was in the shower already. She was awfully quiet, but I figured she woke up too early. When Matt got out of the bathroom, he came to get Claire and carried her downstairs.

A few minutes later, after he got her settled, he came upstairs to tell me she felt awfully hot. My brain was still pretty fuzzy from sleep, but then he added, “And she’s still complaining about her knees, and now her elbow…”

I sat up. Achy joints, fever, and then I heard her sneeze…flu.

It wasn’t just a fever, people. It was the fever. The three day long fever-fest with the lowest being 99.4.

Highest? We recorded 103.4 a few times.

This is when being a nurse kind of flies out of your head. You get back to the basics as much as possible and try everything.

I was piggybacking Tylenol and Motrin. Still high temps. I had her in tees and shorts. Still high temps. I put her in lukewarm baths. Feverish, still. I pushed fluids. So many fluids that, for the past three days, has been her primary source of intake. She’s too full to even eat any solids. Then she began with the sore stomach from the drainage and the lack of solid foods. No nausea or vomiting, just an upset stomach.

All the signs of classic flu.

She got her shot, and I’m so thankful for that, because it could have been so much worse. Working at a hospital, let me tell you, this outbreak is nothing to joke about. We’ve had more confirmed cases than I care to remember, and I feel as if I should just walk around with a mask on all day, because nearly every patient is in isolation for the flu or awaiting results if they are positive or not of the flu.

People who say to me, “Well, the flu shot didn’t even cover the flu that everyone’s getting, so I’m not getting the shot!” make me cringe. It’s a personal decision, yes, but please make it an informed personal decision. No, the flu shot did not cover the exact strain of the flu, but what was in the vaccine was a sibling of what’s going around out there. So instead of being 100% sick, you’d only be, say, 50 or 60% sick. And when it’s causing death or secondary illness? I’ll take the odds.

But again, it’s a personal decision.

My kids, myself, my husband? All vaccinated. Why?

When I was 16 I can safely say I nearly died from the flu. Influenza type A to be exact. It wasn’t a stomach bug, it wasn’t a cold. It was the flu. And it was awful. Bringing it up to my mom still gets her on the verge of tears. She told me today that in her entire life as a mother, she’s never feared the mortality of her kids until I got sick with the flu.

It’s a real deal, people.

Claire was sick. Still in good spirits, but sick. Yesterday, when her temp spiked again to 103 despite having Tylenol and Motrin in her system along with tons and tons of water, I started to worry. She was pale, sleepy, not herself. Matt suggested calling the doctor. I thought about it for a minute, then realized there’s nothing they can do for her. And as long as she was in decent enough spirits, I wasn’t going to drag her poor sick body to the ER, as my doc would suggest.

Sometimes you just have to weigh the pros and cons.

Then you have to remember the old home remedies that my elderly patients would tell me over the years.

Being a nurse for nearly seven years gives you a lot, and then I remembered a weird one where you take a bath with apple cider vinegar. Now, we all know how much I love the stuff, so I have it by the gallon. I ran her another lukewarm bath, added the ACV and had her soak for a good 30 minutes – just to be safe.

She perked up pretty fast, and by the time I was brushing her hair and helping her get into her pj’s, her temp had dropped to 100.1.

Coincidence? I have no idea. But I’ll freaking take it.

(There’s another one they’d tell me, that you take raw onion and put it on your feet with socks. Apparently the acid pulls heat from the body, but ACV does the same thing, being an acid.)

Today she’s a bit better, exhibiting some signs of cabin fever. But my mom took the other two today for an outing this morning, and she was able to watch three movies in their absence  She’s still napping now (going on 4 hours) and I think she may finally be turning a corner. Her temp was only 100 when I put her down and I’m letting it ride. I’m a huge believer in letting the body do what the body has to do. And after 3 days of high fevers and lots of medicine on her little body (with stomach upset) I think letting it ride is what’s best.

But let me be the first to say that, while being a nurse is nice, it really all goes out the window when your kid is legitimately sick and you second guess everything.

However, if this was someone else’s kid and someone was asking me what to do? I’d totally be on my game.

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About Cassie

Two sisters from two misters. What could be more fun?

Posted on January 17, 2013, in Cassie and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Poor little thing. I hope she feels better soon.

    And I trust you to do the right thing in any circumstance.

  2. Cassie, I sure hope Claire is feeling better in no time. I thought of you both this afternoon as I lay in bed, with the flu, flipping channels and there was 10 year old on Ellen who had been donating his allowance to an animal shelter. I thought that Ellen would like to hear about Claire’s efforts! Like you and your family I also received the flu shot and am so grateful I did because I am confident that this would have been much much worse.

    When my kids were babies and up to around 6 or 7 years of age, they regularly spiked their fevers to 104 and 105. It’s so scary when our children are sick! Take care of yourself and wearing a mask at work does not seem unreasonable!

  3. I hope she is feeling better. Mama love is the best medicine.

  4. Hope she’s better. After a bout of the flu about 4 years ago (I wanted to die) I’ve gotten a flu shot the past 3 years and have hardly ever been sick at all beyond the sniffles. (wood. knocked.)

  5. I get just as angry when mothers decide against vaccinations for their children. They depend on herd immunity, but don’t think or don’t care about the risks of their children being carriers and passing on a deadly virus like whooping cough to an infant who is too young to be vaccinated. RAGE. Sorry, I’ll get off my soapbox now. But YES. Flu shots. For everyone!

  6. Even though you feel like your nurse training flies out the window when faced with something scary like this, you remained much more composed than many parents would (myself included). Glad to hear Claire is finally making the turn. Give that girl a hug for me.

  7. Hope Claire is feeling better soon. My whole household had some version of the flu this year (I think); my husband, who did not get a vaccine, had it the worst. The kids had a very mild version, and I do credit the vaccination.

    I thought the onion thing was a myth. My FIL keeps telling me to put a cut onion in the kids’ rooms if they start getting sick again. Seems to me it would just be smelly.

  8. I had no internet or phone during the past two weeks, and am just starting to read through your posts, but I sure hope Claire has recovered as much as possible! Poor little thing…

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