It had hit suddenly, like a bolt from the sky, though it was not without warning because your sister has been languishing from some form of this illness as well.
But the suddenness of it, you were one moment chasing the kitties and the next laying hot on my lap, willing me to make it all better. I have held you though I too have been dizzy. My cool hands have been pressing gently against your face, your forehead, willing a bit of comfort and relief from the heat, into your fevered brow.
You have lain against my breast as I bathed your head with a cool cloth and now my darling my own shirt is wet and uncomfortably warm. I feel a bit grubby and a bit irrational as you wake yet again crying "mommy, mommy."
How can I ignore the plea, even though my own rest has been dazed and wakeful. I realise that I am thirsty and carry you with me downstairs, stumbling over the blankets and toys, to get you some medicine and a drink of water that you half heartedly sip.
I drink a full glass, quickly, then stumble past the sleeping kids on the couch who are downstairs where the monster furnace can't touch them with its irrational heat. I try to readjust the furnace with you slipping, a dead weight against me, then go back upstairs to lay uncomfortably on the lumpy pillows.
I lay with you lying hotly at my side. I lay in a half waking discomfort and finally feel your tense little body relax under a deep sleep. So I shimmy out of the cramped position that I have been laying in and find that I cannot sleep.
I recalled another time, another baby girl. Once so small and I so young.
I had paced with her too in the cramped room of my parents home, dizzy and feverish then as well. I kept walking back and forth until my arms felt like lead, and my torso ached. I thought ironically of all the sit ups that I had done to feel the burn in my stomach and wished I could be doing those instead.
She worried me, her little body so hot, not willing to nurse, I had been trying to squeeze water from a dropper into her little mouth. Yet she was too listless to even gulp at it. I tried nursing again and her hot mouth seared my skin.
I called the doctor, I got a message with the number of another doctor to call. I felt uncomfortable with the idea of sitting in the after hours clinic, waiting as others are called, waiting as her body rested limply against my shoulder, the thought did not appeal to me.
So I laid her in her car seat, in her little white onesie shirt, her chubby little legs lying bowlegged and flat against the seat and I wrapped her up against the cold of the night. I got into the car and drove her over to the hospital, where they asked me to hold her as they prodded her.
It was obvious that she was lying there, unresponsive, with the remarkable fever of 103. So they decided to give her an IV. We waited and then a few nurses entered your room, they had me lay her on the table and started looking for veins to poke. She cried weakly as they poked her, and I tried to hold her hand, and to rub her arm as comfort against the onslaught.
They couldn't find a vein so they poked her again and again, her veins were so tiny. Finally they wrapped tape around a tube sticking out of her arm and I gathered her tentatively up in my arms, she was still so hot, so dry.
I tried nursing again, again her little hot mouth seared me and I withdrew, I felt inadequate and uncomfortable at the same time. Finally others arrived, to take over her care, so I escaped out into the waiting room with it's hard vinyl chairs.
I paced back and forth taking in every detail, but processing nothing, passing time, a feral madness had invaded my mind. A nurse entered quietly and told me that she was starting to show more awareness, that we have staved off dehydration.
I closed my eyes in gratitude that we live at a time where you can be saved from such horrors. I made my way back to her room, where she lay in grandmothers arms and I collapsed on the chair nearby to finally sleep.
(HOM Was in Tonga at the time)