A pain in the neck

We had an interesting albeit scary weekend in our house. DH spent the bulk of the day Saturday working on some basement remodeling. I’m not allowed to detail what he did, as he is still waiting for the permit from the city, so as far as I know he just looked at plans and purchased material. However, that activity was enough to drive me and the kidlets out of the house for at least the morning. It was incredibly cold here in the frozen tundra, so I decided to make good use of our annual zoo membership gift from the in-laws. I squeaked out 4 miles on the treadmill before 9 am, and we were off to the zoo by 10 am or so. The walk to the zoo from the parking lot was brutal for me. I was happy that the kids were well bundled, but kept questioning why in the world I wasn’t better dressed for the weather. Thankfully we were at the zoo only to see the indoor exhibits.

We managed to see most of the tropical animals in the span of an hour, and made our way over to the ocean exhibit. As we were browsing the fish tanks and aquariums, The Boy started complaining that his neck hurt. My standard Mommy response of “where does it hurt, do you want me to kiss it,” just wasn’t cutting it though. I suggested we get lunch so he could rest in the stroller for a while, and he agreed, but he remained withdrawn and quiet with a pained look on his face throughout the meal he barely touched.

He kept telling me that his neck hurt, and when I asked him where it hurt he held his hand over a spot so I could feel. I felt a lump, and of course started to feel a little panicky. I often get swollen lymph nodes, and in fact most of mine become swollen and just never go back to normal after they’ve been swollen, so my experience told me that the lump I was feeling was a slightly enlarged lymph node. Still, his constant insistence that he needed medicine was worrisome, because The Boy has a fairly high pain tolerance.

*Several months ago we noticed he had a black thumb nail, the kind you get after painfully slamming your thumb in a door or something equally painful. When asked how he got it, he would respond with “I just got an owie.” I’ve experienced the same, and I whined considerably when it happened because it was extremely painful. We still have no idea how it happened, because he never complained to us, or to his daycare provider. The poor kid ended up losing his thumbnail, and never even once complained about it.*

Anyway, the fact that he was in so much pain just didn’t set right with me. I told him we would go home so he could take some medicine, and perhaps go to the doctor. He said “yes, and then we will come back to the zoo.” Well, I knew full well if we went home we would not in fact be coming back to the zoo that day, and I just couldn’t lie to him (he’s old enough to remember and continue to keep pushing for it with “but you said we would go back to the zoo.”). When he realized going home for medicine meant leaving the zoo, he proclaimed his neck better. He said we should go to the dolphin show I’d been promising all morning. I asked him if he was sure, he said yes, so we went to the dolphin show. He did okay during the dolphin show, The Girl, on the other hand behaved miserably and she clearly needed a nap! After the show, The Boy was back to complaining about his neck, so we hightailed it home. They both briefly napped in the car on the 20 minute drive home which of course made it nearly impossible to actually get them to take naps at home, but whatever.

I continued to worry, but gave him some Motrin, and tried to get him to nap. DH gave me the impression that I was overreacting, but I just couldn’t let it go. I called a nurse line and spoke with an RN, who told me if it wasn’t better on Sunday we should bring him to Urgent Care. Of course it wasn’t better on Sunday so The Boy and I made a trip to urgent care, where we got the diagnosis of Acute Torticollis, or a stiff neck. The poor kid was dealing with seized up muscles in his neck, and was in a great deal of pain, unable to turn his had from side to side. Thankfully Motrin seems to help, and this morning he declared himself better, enough so that he refused Motrin.

Now, if only I could get myself to stop assuming he has an aneurysm or meningitis every single time he has something weird happen I’d be in a much better place. I remember worrying about miscarrying when I was pregnant (especially after an extremely early miscarriage with my first pregnancy), and being thankful when I passed the first trimester. I told myself that I wouldn’t have to worry anymore when I passed milestones, but the truth is there was always something new to worry about. After The Boy was born, I was so grateful to hold him in my arms, a healthy baby boy, now surely I could stop worrying. I was wrong though, the real worry doesn’t even kick in until they are outside the womb. Now, the things to worry about are much bigger and harder to control. I imagine that even when my kids are grown and living on their own I will still worry about them, but hopefully it won’t be the primal fear and worry I have now…the mama bear taking care of her cubs.

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