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February had been a rough month for our family. Cold after cold, flu after flu. We’ve all three been dealing with various symptoms and fatigue. But it all came to a head this past weekend. Naomi woke up with a terrible fever. Unfortunately, our thermometer went missing in the move, so we were not able to take her temperature. Normally we like to avoid medication and hospitals, preferring to let our bodies deal with the virus itself. But as this was after three weeks of persistant runny nose, stuffiness, coughing and crabbiness, we decided that it would be best to take her into the walk-in emergency unit at our local children’s hospital.
And so that’s where we found ourselves, dealing with a sick, unhappy toddler. For ten. straight. hours. It just so happened that we went on a day that there were several other emergencies more severe than Naomi. I don’t really mind waiting, though I felt bad for Naomi. The biggest problem (other than of course, Naomi being so sick) was boredom. Since the outbreak of H1N1, most waiting rooms have been emptied of magazines, and of course, there are few to no toys for the kids who are feeling well enough to play. A random television or two isn’t all that beneficial when another poor little one is screaming in pain from an earache or stomach bug because you can’t hear it. So as you can imagine, ten hours gave me lots of time to cuddle, snuggle, and think about all the things I wish I’d brought with me.
When we got home, I decided that I would definitely create a small bag of goodies to keep in the trunk of the vehicle so the next time I was stuck somewhere waiting for an extended period of time, be it the doctor’s office, the mechanics, or the DMV. Simple things that are good for not only myself and/or Michael, but also for Naomi as well.
1. Snacks. Oh my goodness, waiting around can make you hungry. Naomi wasn’t interested in the foods we brought her, but Michael and I were famished! So keeping on hand things that don’t expire quickly — crackers, dried fruit, peanut butter, juice boxes or bottled water, sippy cups, graham crackers, beef jerky, trail mix — will definitely keep you from plunking too much money into a candy machine or pop dispenser.
2. Books. During the ten hours, Naomi’s fever went up and down. When it was down, she wanted to play quietly, so the couple of books we brought for her were certainly a plus. But how I wished I could have been reading too. A couple of magazines, or a book that’s somewhere in the middle or the bottom of your reading list, or an mp3 player with a couple audiobooks would make a wonderful distraction.
3. A blanket. Is it just me, or do they keep hospitals uncomfortably cool? Maybe it’s because the poor nurses are run right off their feet. Regardless, a warm flannel blanket would have been a welcome comfort while I held a clingy little babe.
4. A cell phone charger. God bless Steve Jobs and his glorious iPhone. But the battery life on an iPhone doesn’t stand a chance against a bored mama in a waiting room. You can only play Sudoku for so long before your screen goes black… forever. Granted, you’re not supposed to have them on in some waiting rooms, but to have the charger there so you could turn it on “airplane mode” and still play a few games would have made the time go quicker (for a little while anyway).
5. A notepad and pen. When you’re bored, your mind wanders. I think of blog posts I could write, lists I need to make, topics I wanted to look up online, and so forth. Having a pen and notepad to jot all this down would have been very handy indeed.
6. Simple toys. Nothing too elaborate, no need to bring something with lots of pieces. But a small box of crayons, a coloring book, a few board books, a small stuffed toy, a few finger puppets, anything that will hold their attention when they don’t really have the space to run around and burn off their energy. Or in Naomi’s case, that she could do when she had no energy. Also, try not to spend too much money on these toys, in case they get lost, left behind, stolen or get dirty.
7. Baby wipes and tissues. Normally we use cloth wipes and a spray bottle of soap. But when you are dealing with a runny nose, a bleeding wound, diarrhea or vomit, those disposable baby wipes certainly do come in handy. Having a package of those to rely on will really take the stress out of any messes that are made. Keeping a couple plastic bags for garbage collection are always handy too.
All in all, it was worth it. We discovered that Naomi had developed pneumonia. But after a round of antibiotics and a good night’s sleep, she’s been back to her old chipper, happy self, slowly regaining her appetite and eager to play and cuddle anytime.
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