Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Strep Stay

Ecolab® makes Endure Foam Hand Soap that strangely brings me peace of mind. I’ve used the soap countless times at the local hospital, and at one in Indianapolis over the last 3 years. Each time I scrub in between my fingers, I look in the mirror and study how much I’ve aged, maybe only since the time of admission. But using the soap reminds me that we’re in a place where people can do much more than I can.

Cyrus caught the bug in February. He caught it, and then it went on to wrestle him to the ground, hold him there for 5 days, and allow us to meet our health insurance deductible by March 1.

He is not a good patient. He has terrible bedside manners and zero tolerance for strangers telling him that if he doesn’t lift his tongue for the thermometer, they’ll have to place it elsewhere. He is more like an old man who stares out the window thinking about all the things he could be getting done at home, and when the medical team comes to see him, he’s resentful towards them, modern medicine, and cherry-flavored ibuprofen.

Day one in the hospital revealed some real pent-up hostility he held towards his mother. Part of the reason we were admitted was dehydration due to his inability to keep anything down. At 11:00 one night, after another long episode of trying to get the bug out, he was flat angry about the taste in his mouth (who can blame him?).

“This is because of you, Mommy!” he yelled in a fit of rage, loud enough to wake the neighbors in room 536.

“What? Buddy? Mommy isn’t making you throw up. Honey, I’m here to take care of you, get you better…” I continued while I tried to wipe his face with a wet washcloth.

“No!” he yelled. “You never pack my lunch on beefy nacho day. Never! And I have to eat the beefy nachos and then I have a yucky taste in my mouth. All Day! Just like this!” tears rolling down his little red face.

I sat there on the bedside stroking his hair, wondering if I should laugh or cry, and deciding to stay quiet. I’m not convinced his lashing out on my lunch packing, or lack thereof, wasn’t part of a twisted fever dream, but I will tell you this: Cyrus has not eaten school lunch on beefy nacho day since.

On our second day in the hospital, the nurse was apparently just as worn out as us. She walked into the room with her cart of meds and tools.

“Ohhhhkay Cletus, I’m just here to check on a few things,” she said.


He looked at her with a furrowed brow so deep, we could have planted the 2024 corn crop in it.

I asked that she repeat the name she used to ensure she wasn’t administering something to 5-year-old Cyrus that should have gone to 85-year-old Cletus. It was a simple misreading of his chart. But he didn’t acknowledge her or her questions the entire routine examination.

Day three in the hospital is when he finally turned a corner and began eating and keeping things down. That afternoon Cyrus asked if we could take a walk outside. We were denied, which was devastating for this farm kid, but they did allow us to walk around the floor. Before departing he was insistent that he change his clothes, out of his hospital gown. He wanted his cowboy boots, jeans and a belt on. After repeatedly telling me that he couldn’t leave the room looking like that, and me repeatedly asking him why, he exclaims, “Mommy! I can’t walk around the hospital like this! People will think I’m a doctor!”

Cyrus Sankey, not to be confused with Dr. Cyrus Sankey

I assured him no one, and I do mean no one, would think he was a doctor.

Cyrus is back home, and as I write this, I'm watching him use a toy excavator to dig holes into the patch of lawn where Daddy has just sewn grass seed. He made it through the early stomach bug of 2024, will he make it through spring? We shall see. 


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