Last night, I heard a cough. My ears perked up much like our dog’s do when she hears someone approach the front door. I laid perfectly silent for a moment and hoped that I really didn’t hear it as I braced for the next cough. Again, I heard a cough. I groaned as I accepted that Charlie was, indeed, coughing.
Charlie has been lucky when it comes to her lungs. Other than the inhaled glucocorticoid steroid she needed prior to her nasal cannula graduation, we haven’t had to worry very much about her lungs. We’ve directed most of our concern to her motor delays and feeding disorder. I was no longer disquieted by thoughts of her catching something.
However, we are by no means careless. We served our time in isolation and, even now, I apply sanitizer liberally to just about anything I can sanitize or disinfect. We were fortunate that Charlie has managed to avoid respiratory tract illnesses. I counted our escape from lung concerns as one of our blessings. But then, last night, I heard that cough.
To be safe, I scheduled an appointment earlier today with her pediatrician. The weekend was almost here. I certainly did not want her condition to deteriorate over the weekend. There are not a lot of good choices for urgent medical care over the weekend. We’ve been down that road before and I learned my lesson.
I didn’t think she was very sick. But, a thought danced around in the back of my mind and haunted me all morning before the appointment: Is this going to be a big deal that we never saw coming? Is this one of THOSE illnesses?
On the way to the appointment, I was transported back in time to a year and a half ago. Despite her successful completion of the car seat challenge prior to leaving the NICU, I feared she would stop breathing while out of sight in the back seat of my car.
I returned to the old comforting drills. I kept the car stereo silent as I drove so that I could hear the reassuring sound of her breathing in her rear facing car seat. Occasionally, I called out to her and waited for some sort of a response when I could not hear her breathe.
Charlie wasn’t acting sick. In fact, she was her happy self. She must have thought I was crazy. I thought I was crazy. I didn’t think she was very sick. Yet, I felt all this uneasiness.
It turns out that Charlie had a double ear infection and the resulting congestion caused her cough. Her lungs were clear.
Upon hearing the news, I released my held breath and wondered: When does this end? At what point, can I dismiss Charlie’s cough as “just a cold” and not fear returning to the hospital or worse? When will those worries stop materializing in an instant?