Dear Russell & Friends,
My battery now reads 98%. This is Sunday. Friday was the last of 19 consecutive days at work. On Friday night Mrs. Pascal settled down on the couch with the labrador and an afghan to watch the 70th anniversary edition of Gone with the Wind. The barbarian horde and I met at the local theater to watch the last installment of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
Mild spoiler alert(s): Scarlett O’Hara makes a stunning gown out of Tara’s draperies. Much Ork blood is spilt on that fell day. To each her or his own. If you are a guy and prefer GWTW to BOTFA – – welcome to a judgment free zone. If you are a girl and endorse the converse, please befriend Mrs. Pascal.
One of the little pascals had awoken Friday morning to sore muscles and a nagging cough. Like most good parents we loaded him up on DayQuil and packed him off to school. There were final examinations to write. By evening I noted that he let me have much more of the popcorn than usual. He was also more subdued despite the splendid display of elvin glory and ork gore. When our nuclear family reunified the cause became more apparent. Chills, high fever, and a worsening cough. Influenza? Probably. Despite flu shots, it has been raging through our town like a grass fire. Is influenza serious? It will kill far more people than ebola every year.
Mr. & Mrs. Pascal had an answer – – fluids, rest, NiQuil. What we were not prepared for – – night terrors when the fever broke shortly before midnight. He was screaming, crying, and almost inconsolable. Almost. Our teenager received our firm comfort and cold washrag on his forehead until the clouds parted and he went back to sleep. I waited for him to wake up yesterday morning while reading at this table. 13 hours later he surfaced – – again to screams, again to a high fever. He fell in the shower and we transitioned to a tepid bath to break the fever. More DayQuil. Add ibuprofen. Make chicken soup. We felt like parents again. We felt needed and appreciated by a teenager. We felt fear for the fragile gift of health challenged. We have a physician friend who graciously received our call yesterday morning. She was vacationing with her family but was able and willing to concur with our lay diagnosis – – flu. She called in tamiflu to our local pharmacy. It should cut symptoms by 1-2 days and modestly reduce infectivity in the household. For a healthy adolescent the risks of adverse drug effect were present but small. He took more fluids, more sleep, Dayquil, ibuprofen, and the tamiflu.
It was a gray day. Gray and cold and still. We did not see the sun rise or set or peek through clouds in the interregnum. But some gray is not depressing. Some gray makes you slow down and rest. Some gray lets you stay in your pajamas and drink coffee. It was that type of gray.
He slept. She slept. The other man-children played upstairs quietly. I slept. Sleep in the gray day. Sleep restoring the ravages of fatigue and exertion and viral lysis.
I awoke to another scream. Did the fever break again? His clothes were drenched. He was easier to re-orient. More fluids. I gave him my robe – – remind me to wash it in bleach when we’re done please. She wrapped him in her GWTW afghan and picked a movie for him that she would not enjoy. Our teenage son, who thinks we are inept, vulnerable and grateful again. The house returned to quiet. Calm settled as his confusion cleared.
There were two hours of light left – – the light that made it through the gray filter. So, with permission of my co-nurse, I went to run. So much to reflect on as the miles passed. So much to be thankful for – – a wife who kept her promise to me, a child whose life was spared. A God whose comfort I feel every day. The running was a final gift in a precious day. When I returned in the civil dusk, little Pascal was back to normal. Drained and pale, yes. But normal and recovering. The gray day recharged us. Today I’ll go to worship with our non-sick kids. Mrs. Pascal will stay home with the recovering child. Perhaps he’s weak enough to tolerate a screening of GWTW. She’s only trying to prepare him for marriage.
Recharged. Thankful. Able to worship in spite of life’s vicissitudes because there is a faithful friend who never leaves you alone in suffering.