All the Pretty Little Zebras

Throwing up is much more fun to read about than to actually do.

Saturday night again, and I am lying in Mbot’s room because he’s waking, crying, every thirty minutes. He only threw up once, earlier this evening, on Husbot, but he’s been stuffy for two days. There’s no fever. But when the child who has, since conception, fought sleep–at eighteen months to the point of holding his eyelids open with his fingers when they wouldn’t stay up by themselves–says, “I just want to go to sleep,” I know he’s not feeling good.

The trouble is, my friend Solveig visited a few weeks ago and sensing that I needed some adult programming in my life, had Season One of House sent to me after she left. I have been watching it for two weeks. I am addicted. I’d only ever seen Hugh Laurie in Stuart Little. I thought he was fabulous. I wondered, Who is this guy? Why doesn’t everyone think he’s fabulous? Well it turns out everyone does and has since time immemorial.

But because each evening after the Midgets go to bed I’ve been absorbing forty-five minutes of medical drama, when I saw Mbot’s puffy, glassy eyes this evening, it was hard not to think terrible things. Is he the child who has reacted badly to the all-natural carpet cleaner that no one else notices because in spite of all my efforts, Mbot ends up sleeping on the floor most of the night? We hosed off the patio this afternoon, raising dust: could it be Valley Fever? The litter box is in the Midget’s bathroom. Toxoplasmosis?And look–there’s the antique cat now, throwing up in the doorway. Is it a hairball, or could it be related?

I grew up hearing the old medical school adage that a member of Dr. House’s staff repeated in the pilot: when you hear hoof beats, don’t think zebras. The obvious is usually the answer. Obviously, though, it’s not always. I know of enough exceptions to know that sometimes, the circus comes to town.

But Mbot is sleeping peacefully. And so I will go to bed. And I will get up when he cries again, and I will rub his back and check his temperature and maybe give him another dose of infant Tylenol. It’s grape flavored, so it tastes good, if nothing else.

I think I either need to watch less TV, so I stop thinking zebras, or more, so it all just jumbles together and I can’t remember any specifics. Maybe I just need to practice compartmentalization. Look, I’m self-diagnosing. Sleep, I think, might be an antidote, both for Mbot and for me.

How’s your Saturday night developing?

2 thoughts on “All the Pretty Little Zebras

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