Monday, January 17, 2011

Hunkering Down

Yes, it's that time of year again. The time of year when I can't wait to change out the seasonal decorations lining the kitchen window: four medicinal bottles and their accompanying cups/syringes.

I think I'm getting better at this nursing thing. I used to fluctuate between utter disregard for any of Ethan's maladies and extreme sympathy (read: pliability) at any of our children's. I think I'm starting to strike a healthy (!!!) balance. I rub Ethan's neck with arnica and have homemade herbal ice pops in the freezer for the kiddos. I let them have one of those when they wake in the night, and then it's back to bed, kiddo. Just as soon as your papa takes you.

I think we've also struck a balance, at least this go-around, between our natural remedies and the ones that really make us feel better. The elderberry syrup was dripping down the side of the bottle, and it made it stick to the nearby acetaminophen. I think that's symbolic. And also messy.

Ethan has found a concoction which has cured any allergy/virus attacking him since last spring: two ibuprofen, two acetaminophen, a generic Zyrtec, a generic Claritin, and a generic Benadryl. I only mention it in case he's suddenly hit by something tomorrow and I need to know what to pick up at the drugstore, pronto. I don't make any claims as to its safety or why it works. I just know it works, and what would normally lay him low for at least two weeks (swollen neck, extreme lung congestion, no voice) now only makes a brief and half-hearted appearance. And also, my brother Daniel REALLY needs to try this next time he gets an allergy attack.

Most of the kids have messy coughs but are tearing around the house so are of little concern (healthwise, that is). The more disconcerting ones are the babies (who are 1 next did that happen?). I try to remember that it's the dry coughs, not the wet ones, that are the worrisome ones. And last night, when Gideon was wheezing on the inhale and the exhale, I carefully watched his indrawing to make sure he wasn't struggling. A little time wrapped up in a quilt on the rocking chair outside, a little time in the bathroom with a hot shower steaming it up, and he was ready to go back to sleep. Every year we're visited by croup, and I think I get a little calmer each time. "We can do this," I say to myself. "It'll be a long night, but we can do this." And then I wake Ethan up just so I'm not the only adult awake during the drama (it's a very comforting ten seconds when he joins me in consciousness) and start the quiet humming and even quieter praying.

Two ladies at church found out our recently-developed love for "The Waltons" and lent us the first season. I'm grateful for this. First, I timidly admit I love the show. I want a copy of the Baldwin Sisters' "Recipe," and we all wish Ike Godsey's store was just a half-mile down the road. Second, my kids love the show. It's the one show they will all watch. Jon-Jon thinks he's a 2-yr. old "John Boy" and cheers whenever John Boy enters the scene. This works for me on multiple levels: I can use the show as a motivator and as a babysitter. Rough night last night? That's OK, I've got an hour when I can guarantee the kids will not leave the room, even if I'm passed out on the couch.

I guess we're just learning not to take sickness so seriously. Sure, it's unpleasant and unwelcome. But it's also expected and necessary. The more they fight now, the less (at least this is the thinking) they'll have to fight later. And in any case, it's a very real reminder of the fallen world that we live in.

So we medicate and stir the broth and cuddle up. The tissues are plentiful and sleep is scarce.

And tomorrow is a new day ... and a new episode of "The Waltons"!

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