Thursday, March 26, 2009


First, no need to worry, this ends well.

It has got to be a rite of passage for a parent, one that they should list in the accompanying notice of home pregnancy tests. That's what I told myself, at least, as we crossed town on the short drive to the emergency room.

Yesterday le Petit woke up from his nap listless and hot with fever, and spent the rest of the afternoon lying in my arms like when he was a newborn. I kept calling but couldn't get back through to my pediatrician's office and I was getting more worried by the hour. When my husband got home we quickly decided to call the urgences pediatriques at the local hospital, not expecting they would tell us to come in.

So I found myself holding a limp and glassy-eyed le Petit in my arms in a crowded waiting room for hours last night. The triage nurse saw us quickly and announced le Petit's temperature to be 40.3° C (104.5° F), then instructed us to strip him down to his onesie and wait, making him drink as much water in the meantime as possible.

The four hours went by quickly, bizarrely enough. Waiting forever in an emergency room reassures you, at least, that your condition is not considered serious. The doctor saw us and ordered bloodwork and a chest x-ray. My husband stood next to le Petit as a giant mechanical arm swung down and his tiny ribcage appeared on a television screen, as I had flashbacks of my second-trimester ultrasound.

"It isn't every day you get to see yourself on TV!" I told him in encouragement from behind a glass screen. He didn't share my feigned enthusiasm, but he did deal with the x-ray much better than the blood test. The mask of nitrous oxide my husband held to his mouth had absolutely no effect, and he screamed at the top of his lungs as two nurses gently held him down on the examination table and I stroked his legs.
Fever or no, he was ready to make it clear that he was very unhappy and quite skeptical of medical science.

As the fever reducing medicine they gave him when we arrived started to kick in, le Petit was more alert but hardly any more comfortable. I held him and walked him around the room slowly until he caught sight of my husband and asked with increasing insistence for "Dada!" My husband picked him up and he immediately asked for "maman," which made everyone in the waiting room laugh. He eventually fell asleep in my arms.

The tests came back all clear and le Petit's fever was declared to be viral, with no better treatment than time and rest. We got a stamp in his government health book and were waved out the door, making me once more grateful to be living in the land of socialized medicine.

We arrived home late, relieved and exhausted. Le Petit was doing a lot better today, still feverish and with little appetite, but playing and interacting and seeming more himself, thankfully.


caramama said...

Oh, it's so heartbreaking when they are so sick! I'm glad he seems to be feeling better! I hope he gets back to himself soon.

La Mom said...

Those emergency trips are never fun, but they always remind me to be thankful for the amazing French health care system.

Where else on earth can you waltz in, flash a little green card, and get unparalleled medical treatment?

La Mom
An American Mom in Paris

Parisienne Mais Presque said...

@caramama - he's doing much better now, and wow, is he eating again. He's very, very "maman" all of a sudden, though, and calls for me first thing when he wakes up in the morning.

@La Mom - I know, I feel so blessed to have access to the health care system here. Reminds me of that "pinch me now" moment when I walked out of the maternité after a five-day stay with just a signature and a pass of the ol' green "carte vitale."