Monday, October 17, 2011

What Did One Casket Say to the Other?

...Is that you coffin?
            This morning the boys and ate breakfast while I worked on my “to do” list for Thursday. Thursday is my day off this week and therefore my day to get anything done without the kids. Then I checked the calendar and realized today was my day off. I was glad to discover that before trying to punch in at work.
            Unfortunately the first thing on my to do list was to get over to the lab to have my annual blood work done. I was already halfway through my oatmeal and the blood work requires fasting. Alas, the blood work would have to wait until my next day off. I’ve already put it off for a month so another week shouldn’t matter too much.
            So I got dressed, got the boys on the bus and set off to cross a few things off my to do list. I went to the post office, returned some sweatpants to Wal-Mart, called the heating company to schedule a boiler clean out and brought our books back to the library—all by 10:30. I was feeling very virtuous and planning my next move over a cup of coffee. Writing? Nah, feeling too restless. Housework? I wasn’t feeling that virtuous. I could color my hair. No, I decided. What if the school nurse calls? I didn’t want to be elbow-deep in toxic chemicals and needing to run out of the house. So I decided to head to the Sprint store to look into upgrading my phone. I’ve been coveting an IPhone and I’m thinking of passing my old phone along to my son. After that, I’d hit the grocery store. I had just enough time to conquer both tasks before I needed to get in the horrible car pick-up line at James’ school.
            And then the phone rang. Guess who it was. Yup. The school nurse. James has been battling a mysterious cough at school. He went through it last year in December and we finally were able to get it under control with antihistimines and the occasional inhaler. This year he’s on Zyrtec and Flonase every morning. When he has an episode at school he gets Albuterol. They try breathing exercises and sips of water and cough drops. Then they call me.
            Last week I left a training class on Wednesday to pick him up at school. I took him home and made him Ramen Noodles. He hardly coughed after that. I kept him home on Thursday. It was my day off. He didn’t cough. At all. I sent him to school on Friday. The nurse called. There were only two hours left in the day. We decided to send him back to class. He was lasted for the rest of the day.
            So today when she called, his class had just gone into lunch. We decided to send him into lunch. I skipped the Sprint store and picked up groceries. If she called, I’d have the more urgent errand done. She called just as I was bringing the groceries into the house. He finished lunch but didn’t stop coughing.
            During my phone call with the nurse, three people came into the nurse’s office to offer him water. “As if I hadn’t thought of that,” she said. Apparently the staff seem to think she and I are neglecting him. When I picked him up I could feel the eyes on me. There’s the mother who doesn’t drop everything to bring her sick kid home. Even the principal was in the office listening to him cough. He’s attracting a lot of attention. He likes attention. But he isn’t sick. He doesn’t have a virus. He doesn’t need antibiotics. He isn’t asthmatic. At home and outside he is completely cough-free. He spent the weekend playing soccer and running around the woods with Cub Scouts. He even helped me clean on Sunday—and I have a serious dust issue at my house. Something at that school is making him cough.
            Is it possible he’s faking? Maybe. If so, he’s an enormously dedicated and gifted actor. It has to be unpleasant coughing for hours—even if it’s fake. And this nurse is no rookie—I’m sure she can spot a kid who just wants to go home a mile away.
            And what if he is faking? What then? What does that mean? Why is he doing it? He swears it’s real and it certainly sounds real. He isn’t allowed to go to Cub Scouts or soccer practice if he doesn’t spend the day in school. I make him do his homework and then it’s reading or some other “quiet” activity. No video games, no computer, and very little television (sometimes I let him watch it just to preserve my sanity). If we don’t find a solution, I’m going to have him change schools. I hate to do it. He loves his school and his teacher is fantastic. His older brother goes to a different elementary school across town where his TAG program is housed. They also have traditional classrooms and I could send him there. The building is newer. Maybe their air-carrying system is better. I’ve mentioned this as a possible solution and he didn’t look happy. If he is faking, maybe this subtle threat will help. Maybe that makes me a horrible mother, but I’m getting desperate. Now I’m going to go color my hair. I think I earned a few more gray hairs silver highlights this week.