I love the toddler more than life itself.
It was another Hospital Day, today. This time, it was the toddler's turn in the Peds Allergy Clinic. Our mission: find out why her nose has been running since August; find out why she's developed a nasty sleep- and exercise-induced cough.
With an investment of 2.5 hours and a $10 co-pay, we left the clinic armed with a special folder of instructions on how to care for our baby who is showing signs of asthma--who is clearly, by result of a subcutaneous reaction to mold spores and dust mites, highly allergic. Our aresnal of supplies include a steroid inhaler and six inch evacuation chamber and rubber face mask (complete with duck-face detailing), a new round of antihistamines, a back-up supply of prednisone, and a fast-acting, "emergencies" inhaler in the case that she starts wheezing after exposure to a hay-filled barn, a pile of leaves, or, more simply, the outdoors in October. We've been reminded of everything we already know in regard to indoor dust-mite allergies: get rid of carptes, curtains, pillows. Encase her mattress in dust-mite-proof barriers. Wash her bedding in near-boiling water every week. Wash Puppy and Blanky every week in water hot enough to skin the dog alive and kill his fleas.
My poor toddler: who's woken every night for the last sixty days with a rattly cough, who runs and rebounds gleefully and precociously on the giant trampoline in the backyard only to stop to catch her breath, ragged on mold spore inhalations, and cough in orgasmic waves.
"Is it truly reasonable to assume that the allergies are the trigger for her cough?" I inquire of the expert-head-of-Peds-Pulmonary-and-Allergy.
"It's very reasonable," he says, "especially given that she's your daughter."
This is no personal jab. Merely the acknowledgement that I have tested allergic to every known allergen (every commonly tested allergen--fifty-some in total) in the state of Iowa, except for the Moth, the Caddis Fly, and the Cockroach. Why did the cards fall such that I tolerate creatures who inhabit greasy spoons and dumpsters and not the fugus that grows on our silver maple tree leaves?
It ocurrs to my the very ornery toddler has been fussy for reasons beyond behavioral imitations of her older sister. Of course I knew this already. But it occurs to me again: She's been miserable for two months. RIght now all I want to do is trot her through the hallways of the Pomerantz Pavillion and put on a show--shine up her shoes, drag out dust-mite-infested Puppy and see if I can't get his internal voice box (water-damaged in the washign machine) to rasp out a bark and catch the attention of a few passers-by for my extroverted Dalai Lama. Let me get the crazily gleeful women from Child Life back to sit with her for a few hours--the women who jumped around our exam room with bubbles and a spinning SpongeBob toy while Evvy was injected five times on each arm, while the male nurse said over and over how she was the best "they'd ever had--at this age" because she didn't even start crying till the sixth injection. Does it matter she is the best? She still wept and tears spilled down her face to her naked shoulder and mixed with blood from the injection sites on her arm. After the shock wore off, she still recoiled from the hold of the foreign Hospital Blanky the nurse had wrapped around her back, between me and Ev, while I held her. And then she asked for Daddy, who walked in the room as if on cue, and she still needed to take turns with each of us holding her for five minutes apiece for the next hour and a half. And, thanks to the brief snippet of Jungle Book she saw on the waiting room television, she announced to us, this day, she is newly scared of elephants.
There is so much to rue.