The Girl Who Cried Wolf?—by Jamie Levine
My daughter is a drama-queen. Every minor scratch she gets warrants a band-aid and “medicine” (ie: Neosporin); every bump, an ice pack. But mere moments later, she always rips off the band-aid, and puts the ice back in the freezer, as she exclaims, “it’s all better now.” Jayda also exhibits sympathy pain; when my mother was in the hospital for back surgery, Jayda often complained “my back hurts,” while she walked around with her hand on her hip. Similarly, because I often get migraines, when Jayda wants attention, she slaps her hand on her head and groans, “I have a bad headache.” And then there are her stomach aches: They often begin when it’s bedtime, or when I want her to do something she doesn’t want to do; the pain miraculously disappears when it’s dessert-time, or after she’s in bed and I’ve promised to read her an extra chapter from a bedtime book. Suffice to say, it’s hard for me to take Jayda seriously when she complains about not feeling well.
This past Wednesday morning, Jayda woke up before 6 a.m. complaining that her “hip” hurt. She moaned and groaned and even cried a bit, but I didn’t take her complaints seriously—especially since she was moving and walking around just fine. But her whining persisted, and she soon started to wail, “I need to go to the hospital, Mommy!” I finally examined the area she was complaining about—her left side—and confirmed that it wasn’t bruised, and just figured she’d pulled a muscle. I decided that I’d call her pediatrician at 7:30, which is when he personally takes calls for 30 minutes every morning. But, honestly, I was annoyed at the prospect of taking Jayda to see him if there was nothing he could do to help her. I was still convinced it was a pulled muscle.
After rolling around on her bed complaining for awhile, Jayda asked to go to the bathroom, where she peed and pooped and then exclaimed, “My hip feels all better, Mommy!” I was relieved, and got her dressed and headed downstairs for breakfast. But the moment Jayda sat down in front of the TV, she wailed, “my hip still hurts—a lot!” And she started crying. Shortly afterwards, she threw up.
I immediately called her pediatrician—who didn’t answer the phone. And Jayda vomited again. I dialed the doctor’s unanswered private line several more times, until I realized it was Wednesday—the day he’s at the hospital and his office doesn’t open until 2:30. So I called the forwarding number he left on his office machine and spoke to a nurse. She asked about Jayda’s symptoms (pain on the left side, vomiting, no fever, and no other issues) and she simply told me to bring Jayda to the nearest ER. Huh? I didn’t understand the urgency, but followed her instructions when she insisted I shouldn’t wait. Once we got to the ER, the triage nurse explained that even though the pain wasn’t on Jayda’s right side, the nurse might have suspected appendicitis. Fortunately, her suspicions were wrong.
Jayda vomited again at the ER, but once I got her undressed and into a hospital gown and sitting on a bed, she seemed fine. So fine in fact that she chatted amicably with all of the nurses and doctors who came to see her. With her gorgeous bouncy curls and big, blue eyes, as well as her freshly manicured nails, and princessy outfit, she was the star of the ER, and she basked in the attention she received. Jayda was poked and prodded by a doctor, asked to supply a urine sample (which was problem-free), and drank a container of apple juice and kept it down. Four hours later, the doctor announced it was probably a virus and released Jayda. As she was getting dressed, Jayda announced, “I like it here! I had fun!” and insisted on finding out all of the doctors’ and nurses’ names and saying goodbye to them, personally.
When we got home, despite the doctor’s directions to eat lightly, Jayda exclaimed that she was starving and scarfed down a bowl of cereal; and all day long, as I doled out small bits of food, she requested more to eat. After a few hours of TV watching, she told me she was bored and asked if she could go to school. When I said “no,” she then asked if she could go to her ice skating lesson—which I’d obviously cancelled. I jokingly told my mother, “if this is a virus, I want one! This kid has more energy than I do…”
Did Jayda have a virus? I don’t know. If she did, it was certainly short-lived. The next day, she was back to her old self, and even went ice skating. Of course I’m glad I took her to the ER—better safe than sorry. And while I’m glad she didn’t have a horrible experience there, I do worry about how much she liked it. The next time she breaks a fingernail, she’ll probably be asking me to take her back.