My granddaughter Alex has strep throat, a nasty infection no one should have to endure, especially not a 3-year old. Just the mention of strep brings haunting memories for me.
Alex's mother had strep when she was 8, and before we even knew it, it became scarlet fever. I'll never forget that morning. I walked into Erin's room to wake her and didn't recognize the child in the bed. She'd been happy and healthy when I tucked her in the night before. Now, her face was swollen round as a melon, her eyes just tiny slits in her burning red skin. I hollered for my husband and we quickly agreed that he would stay with our other children while I drove Erin to the walk-in clinic.
When we arrived, the nurse on duty put Erin's name on the list of a dozen children waiting. I tried to explain that it was an emergency, but she was unimpressed. Finally, I just walked Erin up to her desk and she rushed us into an exam room. The pediatrician took one look, ordered Erin straight to the hospital, and followed us there.
Erin was admitted and placed in a quarantine room. I insisted on staying with her while three nurses took turns trying to start an IV line, stabbing her in both arms and both hands, to no avail. By then, Erin was screaming and so was I. "I want her doctor in here NOW! No one else touches her." Mama Bear had had enough.
The doctor slipped that needle in with ease; Erin didn't even feel it. Soon fluids were flowing and I was calming down. Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come.
The doctor ordered a powerful intravenous antibiotic and warned us it would sting going in. I held Erin's hand as the nurse injected the drug into her IV. Erin tried to be brave but we both cried each time they administered it, every four hours around the clock. I stayed in a chair by her bed three days and nights. Her worried daddy visited but was not allowed in the room.
The third day Erin was much better. The swelling was down and she was sitting up eating Jell-o. I had missed three days of classes at the university where I was in the last semester of my bachelor's program. I told Erin I needed to go to class, just long enough to pick up assignments and would return that afternoon. She was fine with it.
I rushed home to shower and arrived at my class just five minutes late. I walked in to find the students taking an exam. I hadn't even read the chapters it covered so I explained to the professor that my daughter was in the hospital and I had just come from three days and nights at her bedside. He smirked, "I've heard that one before. Sit down and take the test or leave and take an F."
"But it's true," I protested.
"What's she got?" he sneered," the plague?"
"No, actually it's scarlet fever."
He laughed out loud. "No one gets scarlet fever these days."
Again, Mama Bear had had enough.
"Well it is scarlet fever, and here's her doctor's phone number if you'd like to verify it. If not, I'll be happy to take it to the department chair." Reluctantly the prof agreed to let me go home to study and take the exam the next day.
Now, 20 years later, Erin is Mama Bear and just as fierce in defense of her cub. En guard, strep. You don't stand a chance.