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.