The Frequent Flyer Program That Makes Me Sad

As we signed in at the doctor’s office, the lady behind the counter asked me Camille’s name. When I told her, she said, “I should’ve known that.”
The other worker added, “Yeah, she’s one of our frequent flyers. We see her a lot.”
I wish you got some sort of prize for this frequent flyer program. But today we just got more medicine. More worries. More frustration.
Camille has been sick the entire month of September, and October isn’t starting so well. I’d be willing to bet she’s been sick more days than she’s been well since about April, when she first began getting ear infections. Now before I get too pitiful let me remind myself – although she’s been sick, it’s sometimes as mild as a runny nose. Annoying, but not alarming. But we’ve had our share of some tougher times too.
For the last 3 weeks, Camille has had a cough. She doesn’t cough all the time, but when she gets going, the gurgly cough just goes on and on. It happens most often at night, and has woken her up many times. Her cough is accompanied by a runny nose and – alas – runny ears. Five days after her surgery to put in the tubes, her ears began draining. On the one hand, I’m glad all that fluid has somewhere to go and isn’t just building pressure behind her eardrum. But it means she’s still having problems. The tubes weren’t a magic fix to keep her ears clean and dry. So they’ve been draining for 2 weeks now, despite the antibiotic drops. Despite my wishes.
Then this morning, she threw up. Lee and I had finally had enough, and decided to take her in to the doctor. I’d been trying to wait out the cough, not wanting to show up only to be told it was a cold that had to run its course.
Except it’s not a cold. It’s bronchitis. The doctor wanted to do a breathing treatment there in the office, and Camille tolerated it okay as long as we read books to her to keep her occupied while the mask over her nose and mouth misted her lungs with medicine. The doc checked her breathing, and decided she needed another treatment. By this time, our little girl was tired of it all. She writhed and kicked and swatted and screamed until she was red in the face while I held her down and Lee held the mask. Nothing we did helped. She was so upset. I wondered if it was worth it.
And now we are the lucky owners of a nebulizer, so we can continue doing the breathing treatments at home. Even in the middle of the night.
Of course I don’t want to do them because she hates it. But even more than that, I find the whole thing frightening. Ear infections were a pain, but they didn’t really scare me. But breathing… breathing is a different story. I was terrified when the doctor said Camille had to work extra hard to get oxygen in and out. That’s just not an option. That’s not okay.
So we’ll do the breathing treatments. We’ll load her system up with 5 different prescriptions. We’ll do whatever they say we should do because we need her to be healthy.
Leaving the doctor’s office, I was so upset. I realize bronchitis is not the worst thing to ever happen to a child. I know there are many moms and dads who watch their children suffer through diseases and diagnoses much more heartbreaking.
But I’m just weary. I think it’s not so much the bronchitis. It’s the bronchitis on top of the ear infections/surgery on top of the strep on top of everything else. I’m tired of watching my baby girl be sick. I’m tired of canceling play dates and avoiding friends for fear of getting their children sick. I’m tired of wondering if every whimper is the signal of another ailment. I’m tired of the medicines that don’t seem to help. I’m tired of being a frequent flyer.
And I’m worried about work. My employers have been wonderful and very understanding. Every sick day has been approved without question. I’m allowed to come in late or leave early to take Camille to the doctor, because they know I’ll work nights and weekends to catch up. But I feel like I haven’t been a good employee for a while. I haven’t been able to focus, and my work is beginning to pile up so high I can’t see the top. And it’s heavy.
Tonight, I’ll let them know I have to be out for a few days until the breathing treatments are finished and she’s well enough for baby school. It would be an easier conversation if I felt like I’d jump right back into my work as soon as she felt better. But the way things have been going lately, I wonder if next week it’ll be something else. And then the next week, some other diagnosis, medication, treatment. I think I banked a lot of goodwill at work, but I’ve been making so many withdrawals I wonder how much is left.
So I’m worried about me, I’m worried about Lee (who is feeling incredible stress about his work as well), but most of all I’m worried about my baby girl. We’ll sneak into her room around midnight and try to give her a breathing treatment in her sleep. I wish we didn’t have to, but at least it gives me a chance to look at her and know she’s breathing. I’ll take it.