Thursday, August 7, 2008

In No Particular Order

We got back yesterday from a weeklong trip to Washington, D.C. and environs. Here are some lessons learned and noteworthy aspects of our trip:

  • I left my suitcase at home. I didn’t realize it wasn’t with us until we were at mom and dad’s place in North Carolina, with 100 miles of road behind us. I figured that would be the most distressing thing that would happen that day, but it was not (see next item). Actually, it was funny—I had carefully done laundry, thought about our itinerary, sorted my clothes, and chosen outfits and accessories. Then, as soon as I realized that my bag was really missing, I totally didn’t give a crap. It was kind of freeing. I had on jeans, sandals, an old t-shirt, a grosgrain belt, and dangly earrings. (Is there anything you can’t face if you have dangly earrings?) I hit a Wal-Mart for cheap panties, a tank top, and a toothbrush, and I was good to go. In fact, I spent the next several days explaining to everyone that I had reached a higher level of spiritual perfection than they, having shed my worldly goods.

  • A couple of days before our departure, Laura had a fever with no other symptoms. She rested and took acetaminophen. The fever went away and she perked up. I figured that it was the same 24-hour virus that Hank had had the week before. No biggie. But the morning we got up to head from North Carolina to D.C., she was hot again, and complaining of a headache. I dosed her with ibuprofen, and put her in the backseat of the van with a pillow and blanket. She slept a couple of hours and I thought all would be well. After she woke up (still feverish), she grew more and more miserable as the day wore on and the miles rolled by. My dad was driving, so I could tend to her full-time, but even alternating Tylenol and Advil did not seem to make her feel any better. She was still complaining of a headache and even crying.

    Finally, when we stopped at a rest area and she cried that the sunlight hurt her eyes, I crossed over into serious worry. I called her pediatrician on my cell, and the doc called me back about thirty seconds later. I was thinking meningitis. The doctor said she didn’t think so (no neck pain) but that she needed to be seen in the next few hours. Even before I was off the phone with the doctor, my mom had used the GPS to figure out that there was a hospital at the very next exit, so off we went, to a little ER in Front Royal, Virginia. Whatever I told those people really got their attention, because they tested L’s blood, urine, and hooked her up to an IV. Poor Laura! But she was brave. Four hours later, they had ruled out anything serious, but had no diagnosis for us. She was feeling a bit better from the IV fluids, and they sent us on our way. The next day (the first real day at our destination), she was more her old self. Here she is all better:

  • So did I overreact? I don’t know. I was in that parenting mode where you don’t care that you may be overreacting, or that what you are about to do will be massively inconvenient. (Thank goodness for grandparent support—Mom took Hank to a motel room while Dad stayed with L and me.) I just thought, “She has never been this miserable and something is not right.” And I have no idea whether our health insurance will play nicely with an ER visit in Front Royal. But I think I would make the same choice again.

  • Despite my ambivalence, and as was asserted previously by you, my dear commenters, an in-car DVD player is a good thing, like breathing is good, especially if you are traveling with a sick kid.

  • Washington, D.C. is quite toddler-friendly. There are wide open spaces everywhere. The monuments, of course, are quite amenable to running and recreational stair-climbing. And the zoo and the National Mall too, as you would expect. But I was surprised to find that Hank did just great in the National Gallery of Art. They provide a list of highlights to see if “you only have an hour,” or as they should say, “if you have a toddler with you.” Hank was happy to sit in his stroller while we took in the highlights on the first floor. Then there was plenty of space in the rotunda and in the underground concourse to run (plus a cool waterfall behind glass), which balanced out all the stroller time.

    I will say that if you are taking a toddler to an art museum and you can't or don't want to keep him or her in the stroller the whole time, let the kid be free in the section of the museum that has older, pre-twentieth-century paintings. They are hung in a traditional way, higher on the wall than a toddler can reach. In the Modern and Contemporary wing, the canvases are bigger or oddly sized, and are hung down to the floor. Plenty reachable. Hank was quite attracted to the Lichtenstein picture of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck—not so much the Georges de La Tour painting of the Penitent Magdalene. Also, in the Modern wing, the sculptural objects in the middle of the room just look like something to play on. I mean, come on:

    He thought he was at Gymboree. Of course, I was a Good Museum Mama and didn’t let him touch a thing. So we cut our visit a little bit short, but on the whole, it was very doable with a tot, and the National Gallery isn't even supposed to be one of the "fun" museums in the Smithsonian.

Now we are off to Open House to meet Laura’s new teacher. Enjoy the last days, hours, and minutes of summer, y’all.

Edited to add: I said that my mom used the GPS to find the hospital; my dad would like the record to reflect that he did that. While driving. Which now that I know that, is both impressive and scary.


Amy said...

I am a firm believer in mother's intuition! If you feel like something might be wrong, it's always better to pursue it. So, no, IMO, you didn't overreact!

I just have to say--reading this made me think, "Thank God for technology!" GPS, cell phones, IV medication made that whole experience less painful than it could've been. Just think if you'd been in a covered wagon or something! I'm just sayin.

Lecia said...

The suitcase story had me in tears - not sure if laughing tears or tears of panic that it could have been me!

I'm glad your daughter is ok and that you visited the ER when you got worried. I have a background in medicine and can think of several scarey things that could have been wrong.

Veronica said...

Sounds very scary. I'm glad L is okay. And glad you had a good, dangly-earring filled trip otherwise!

Sara Bee said...

Six year old daughter Lily woke me up early one morning because her stomach hurt. It was protruding in the most disturbing way and hard as a rock. Husband is on full alert getting everybody ready to go to the ER, but I am skeptical of this youngest child of mine because I think I detect a speck of joy in her eye as she watches her father flipping his wig. After a little gentle interrogation I discovered that she had a severe case of having to pee.
So I guess that's on the other side of the spectrum, but I can vouch for the fact the fevers are terrifying. Been there and done that, too.
Glad she was A-OK!

Becky said...

Thank you, ladies. It was scary, though it could have been much worse, of course. Sara, the tummy situation would have had me flipping my wig as well! Good on ya for your mama diagnostic skills!

kate said...

Overreact? I confirm that the following day LJ was not herself and was definitely recovering from something...You did the right thing.

I also confirm that the dangly earrings really pulled off your look that week. No need for changing outfits if you have dangly earrings. Oh, and don't forget your way hot bag too, that definitely tied it together.

kate said...

By the way, LOVED having you here. I miss you guys.

Becky said...

Thanks, Kate! We loved being with you guys. And I should add that I knew that while I was at your house, all my skincare needs would be taken care of. That helped a lot!