Last week, my son started wheezing. By Wednesday, he sounded worse, so we made an appointment with the doctor. Since he was active as ever, had a healthy appetite, and seemed his usual congenial self (aside from breathing like Darth Vader), I figured we were in for a quick checkup and possibly a prescription to help. Instead, we wound up in the hospital. For seven days.
It turned out, eventually, that our kid was diagnosed with pneumonia. In the interim, they treated him for asthma–except when you’re under two, you don’t have asthma, you have reactive airway disease. It was Friday before they figured out the pneumonia and started some steroids and antibiotics, and then it took until Tuesday for his blood oxygen saturation levels to be normal without him being on oxygen.
Don’t get me wrong, the nurses and doctors were great, and I wouldn’t want to leave with my son still sick (ill, for the grammar prescriptivists out there). However, we had several conversations that were strange and a little awkward. I get that I can be an awkward conversationalist, but that’s because I don’t usually say what I’m thinking. If I did, according to my wife, people would think I’m a weirdo. So here are a few of the conversations, along with what I thought but didn’t say. Wherever you see me quoted, in reality I was just nodding or staring with a confused/pained expression on my face.
Doctor: “Not much more we can do at this point. All he needs now is a tincture of time.”
Me: “Couldn’t we just pick that up at WalMart and be on our way?”
“That stuff’ll kill you, if you get too much of it.”
Respiratory Therapist: “I had a thin book that had stuff about writing in it.”
Me: (really) “Probably Strunk and White.”
RT: “I don’t know. Had all kinds of tips in it. I had an anatomy and physiology book. I kept that one. I still read it sometimes, when I want to look something up.”
Me: “Here’s what I remember from A and P…(singing with gestures) Milk, milk, lemonade, round the corner fudge is made.”
Nurse (with a thermometer inserted in my son’s rectum): “Shhh. It’s ok. It’s ok.”
Me: “It is not ok, not ok at all. Best get used to it now, though. This is life, buddy. Somebody sticking it to you and trying to convince you they’re not. Oh man. I’m having an existential attack. Arrrrgghhhhhhhh!”
Nurse: “Hello handsome, how are you feeling?”
Me: “Great, but I think you should be more concerned about my son.”
Random Guy In Elevator: “You know, they’ve really come a long way with the food at these places. Years ago we used to joke about how bad it was. Now I come in here for lunch a few times a week.”
Me: “I know what you mean. I’m just here for the toilets.”
There’s more, of course, but I don’t want you to think I’m really weird.
So when we got home from the hospital, I added “tincture of time” to the list of our son’s prescribed medicines (yes, the doctor really did say that–I told my wife it sounded like something Doc Baker would say on Little House on the Prairie. She said it sounded nothing like LHOTP).
Today, we went back to the pediatrician to make sure the little guy is recovering ok. The nurse asked what medicines he was on. I started to name them, but my wife helpfully volunteered, “We have the paper from the hospital right here.”
The nurse was gracious enough not to mention the “tincture of time.”
And that’s why I don’t talk much.