Sick Days

"There will never be another time when he'll be so easy to amuse," said my husband as the Fed Ex envelope full of property titles fell off my head for the umpteenth time, the bun shrieking in delight. Too true. He's just coming out of a bad virus, and he's been logey and listless for the past two days. He's spent virtually every waking minute in our arms, big purple rings under his foggy eyes, limply gazing at nothing. Even when you're helpless to help and desperate to ease the suffering, there's a tinge of contentment when you're needed in such a basic and elemental way. The fever sapped him completely and we spent the time just curled up together in a little family ball. But today he was laughing with vigor.

Before he got the fever, he was behaving very oddly. He was whiney and miserable most of the morning, and then uncharacteristically desperate to fall asleep two hours before his usual nap. I expected him to sleep for an hour, but it stretched into a super-nap. When he woke up I became nervous because every time I set him down he seemed unable to get to his feet, his knees buckling under his tiny frame for no discernible reason, crying with confusion. He had been walking like a champion before the nap, and now he couldn't even stand up, his legs folding up like noodles after shaking like a leaf. What was wrong with him?

Because there were no other symptoms, I was pretty sure an exotic neuro-toxin had been transmitted via his clean crib sheet somehow. Or maybe his spinal fluid had disappeared for some reason. He was having an amino-acid deficiency which made him fine one day and weak-kneed the next. I called my husband less hysterical than I felt and said that I thought something might be wrong with the bun. He said he'd be home in a few minutes to check on him.

I put him in my lap and read him a book. As the kitten chased the moon again, I started to cry. He was miserable, but I couldn't see what was wrong. I was in the dark, helpless to fight against an enemy I couldn't see. Sure, it was probably just a cold, but how could I know? There wasn't any tell-tale snot, no coughing, bupkus! And he couldn't tell me what to do for him or what was wrong.

I was relieved when he got the fever. At least I knew I could give him Tylenol and that he wasn't wasting away with some parasitic disease from god-knows-where. Or if he was, there was now a symptom to identify something.

He's on the mend. I know because he's regained his curiosity in the gas line behind the stove and the power cord on the lamp. And he's laughing at the idiot with the envelope on her head.