Thursday, January 6, 2011

Fevers, Strangers, and Vacuums

Today is a bit of an "eye of the storm" day. The past few weeks have been filled with the rush of surgery, holiday preparations, visiting family, traveling out of state for 12 days, traveling home, and attempting to re-settle a tired, cranky family.

We arrived at my parents on Dec 23rd just as a snowstorm was blowing in and spent a few quiet days adjusting to Grandma and Grandpa Johnson's house. My brothers and sisters were away on Christmas morning so we opended a few simple presents by the fire with my mom and dad and grandma. After a few presents Toby caught the spirit and began announcing, "Merry Mih-muh!" over and over. That wasprobably the high-point of the trip for him.

Only a couple days into the trip Toby began acting ill and refusing to eat. The morning of the 28th he woke with a fever. We took him to a doctor who confirmed a nasty double ear infection and prescribed an antibiotic. Toby spent the next four days with a fever between 102 and 103 degrees, clinging to my hip like a barnacle, and refusing to ingest anything except juice and rice milk. On the 30th my brothers and their families arrived, increasing Toby's anxiety and clinginess. I had to enjoy my family with Toby by my side, which he was OK with, as long as they didn't look at him or attempt to touch him. Even his six boy cousins wrestling on the floor infront of him barely elicited a smile, and wouldn't lure him from my lap.

About the only thing that would brighten Toby's bleary eyes was the thought of the vacuum cleaner, or "BAA-coom!" as he called it. He has been both wildly afraid of and strangely attracted to vacuums for a few weeks now, but last week it was the only thing he was willing to talk about. At church, when a man greeted Toby and asked him how he was doing Toby answered cheerily, "A BAA-coom!" At the mall, when a lady I hadn't seen since my childhood chatted with me and smiled at Toby he broke his empty feverish gaze to greet her the same way, "A BAA-coom!" Back at Grandma's he sat for hours rocking on my lap and refusing to acknowledge anyone's existence until a thought suddenly sent a thrill of life through his hot little body, "A BAA-coom! In closet! Is loud! SEE IT!" When the tornado siren sounded a long and loud test one afternoon Toby was stunned and frozen in wonder. After a minute of silent reverence he spoke, "A BAA-coom! Outside! Is LOUD!"

That evening Emma came down with a fever and began to wheeze dramatically. Emma has always wheezed dramatically with viruses, but her oxygen level never drops. I usually don't pay it much attention anymore, but this time the wheezing and retractions were enough to even raise my eyebrows. Fortunately I had brought our trusty nebulizer and a few treatments every four hours got her through the worst of it.

Both Toby and Emma were finally on the mend by New Years day. This was a blessing considering more extended family came to fill the house that evening in order to celebrate my grandmother's upcoming 90th birthday. About 30 people attended the evening meal and birthday party. Nana was delighted, but even more surprised when we all attended church with her the next morning and held a birthday lunch for her with her church family that afternoon. A photographer was there to take a picture of the 37 person extended family. We also got a photo of Nana with her 18 great-grandkids, in which Toby was screaming his little lungs out, of course.

Naomi was supposed to attend school back home on the third, and as much as we were all ready to head back to sanity and routine, a sway bar on our minivan decided to break and we had to delay our return by a day in order to get that repaired.

Now a pile of laundry and a heap of unpacked bags face me. My refrigerator is empty and I am forced to begin cooking again. Toby has renewed his interest in his red toy Dirt Devil vacuum and "cleaned" nearly every inch of carpet in the house. Yesterday, when the washing machine in the basement hit the spin cycle and shook the floor where we were standing over it, Toby froze and listened intently, "A BAA-coom?" He asked me.

"No, Toby," I answered, "That's a washer. It's washing the clothes in the basement."

"A washer!" He repeated, "In basement! Is loud! SEE it!"

A new year of adventure lies ahead, and I don't dare guess what it will hold.

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