The huge sigh of relief you may have heard on Monday came from me right after the doctor said Nick’s preliminary blood work looked normal. To say I was anxious about it would be quite an understatement. And I almost feel like I need to defend my anxiety. So here in a nutshell:
1. I decided NOT to google swollen lymph nodes, even though Nick’s is still the size of a large grape. And hard. And fixed. Hard and fixed are way worse than just large. But I wasn’t going to look and I wasn’t going to panic.
2. I did decide to google “toddler peeling feet” because his feet have been peeling and I wondered if I should keep him in socks to keep dirt away/wick away any sweat, keep him in bare feet to give it air, or whatever. You know, just your average curious what is this and what’s the best way to go about making it go away. At which point the first hit was “toddler peeling feet and swollen lymph nodes.” Um, yeah, we have that. And red eyes? Yep. And that would be Kawasaki Disease. Say what? Well, Kawasaki Disease is not anything any of us want, but luckily the main symptom is a fever. A fever that can last for 10-15 days. Whew. No fever for us. But, well, strep usually has a fever and he didn’t get that fever. And Scarlet Fever usually has a fever (hence, the name) and he didn’t have a fever with that. So I googled “Kawasaki Disease without fever” and sure enough it’s possible, though extremely rare, but possible.
I want to reiterate. I was googling his peeling feet. I was not trying to come up with some crazy diagnosis. But I worried. And then I didn’t. And then I did. And then I didn’t. By the time I got to the doctor’s office two days later, I was a bit of a mess. So when the doctor said she thought the lymph nodes were still the result of the bug bites (that are still there, and are not healing) I was relieved, but I wasn’t convinced. She didn’t make me ask for the blood work (another reason I love her), but said she was running it for my piece of mind.
3. Some of you are aware, my husband was ill about 10 years ago. I urged him to go to the doctor for what everyone else thought was “nothing.” He finally went and the doctor said it was nothing. They removed a mole and we went on with our newlywed lives. Everyone was able to say “I told you so” to me. And then a month later they called back to say that in fact something was wrong. And he needed surgery tomorrow. Except he was out of town. Which didn’t matter. They wanted him back tomorrow and that is what would eventually happen. And after his first surgery I noticed a swollen lymph node. Right behind his ear. (The very same one that is swollen in Nick.)
We went back to the doctor and the Mike’s node was tested and we were told they were 98% it was all OK. They were going to send it to a specialist to test and we would find out in a day or two. But 98%, come on. Those are pretty good odds, yes?
It came back positive. And more surgeries took place. And it was a hellish, horrible time.
And no less than three doctors told me that I saved my husband’s life. Because I noticed a mole. And followed up. And noticed a lymph node. And followed up. And it’s been 10 years. And we have each other and we have our children. But seeing that particular swollen, hard, fixed lymph node on Nick has been extremely unsettling. Traumatic. I have run little moments from 10 years ago over and over in my head. I have wondered if we are going there again. I have, admittedly, taken the route of fear.
Another conversation I wish I could erase was when Mike’s doctor told me that no matter what precautions were taken, I would most likely be the one that would notice a recurrence. I don’t know if I can express what kind of pressure that put on me. Or at least, what pressure I put on myself because of that statement.
Fast forward to 10 years later. And that damn swollen node.
I am greatly comforted by the normal blood work. I recognize that this is likely nothing more than a crappy reaction to some bug bites (OK, 32 bug bites in a very small area.) But my stomach still drops a little bit every time I see that swollen node.
And you will be very proud of me. I have NOT googled the new prescription cream even though it has words like Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes on the insert.
(OH, NO. After bragging, I thought I might as well look them up since they are right here on my computer. Mother of pearl – why do I do these things?)
I guess what I’m trying to say is, yes, I know I tend to overreact. And, yes, I have some baggage. And, no, I don’t enjoy it. And, yes, I’m working on healthier ways to deal. But I won’t ignore what I see. And I won’t discount what my gut tells me. And I won’t apologize for needing proof.