My family is healthy. We eat decently, everyone works out (except for me) and I am not a freakazoid about germs. While I think it is pertinent to wash hands, I don't spaz out about dirtiness in general, believing that it helps build the immune system, etc. For the past several years the only visits we would have to the doctor were for well-checks. The only exception would be one ear infection a year for Sadie.
However, since November, the entire picture above has slowly disintegrated. Not the good eating habits and working out, but the "my family is healthy" statement. To be very specific, Sadie continually says, "Mom, I don't feel well." This declaration is usually followed-up by one of the following, "My head hurts. My stomach hurts. My throat hurts. My ear hurts."
I do not have the gift of mercy. Unless my child is bleeding, vomiting or having a fever, I tell them I am sorry and deal with it. Therefore, much of the time I ignore her statements until I have had enough of them and finally take her to the doctor's more out of frustration than concern. We have been to the doctor's office monthly since November.
This last trip did not yield any diagnosis except that her body is just run down. Lots of different viruses have been floating around - some with fevers, some without. The slight chance of mono was mentioned by the doctor, but even I could deduce that was not likely. The child had just completed 9 swim events - all strokes in 50s and 100s, plus the 100 IM without a complete collapse which I would have expected had she been dealing with mono.
I have tracked when and under what circumstances she makes these statements. They do not seem to be related to school, eating, sleeping, swimming. Nothing. In fact, the more I sensed her health spiraling downward, the more I clamped down on unhealthy snacks and pushed for earlier bedtime. Didn't work.
On Sunday night Sadie, once again, began her thrice weekly mantra, "Mom, I don't feel well." I brushed it off, as she had a swim meet this past weekend. A tired body might interpreted as sickness in her mind. Monday morning, the same phrase was repeated and I heard it again Monday after school. I just kept moving her along her normal routine of the day. Basically, I ignored her.
We ended up at swim practice. She got right into the pool and appeared quite focused. I went to sit outside where I could see, but not really hear what was going on in practice. I noticed she really wasn't fully performing what was being asked of her. Her kicks were quite pathetic and she lagged behind the other swimmers. About a 45 minutes into practice, I saw her sitting on the side of the pool with her towel around her. She started to lay down. I could feel my ire rising. I am not paying for her to interchange putting forth effort and slacking whenever she just feels like it.
She collected her things and walked outside to where I was sitting. I took her to the side and asked her what was going on. Her usual reply, "Mom, I don't feel well." I sadly decided to parent ala Jim Pierce and said the following, "Sadie, I have had enough of this constant 'I don't feel well mess.' Do you want to be #1 this summer?" She said, "Yes." I said, "Then get back in that pool and work hard. You are at one level and Coach Rob is trying to take you to the next level. It might be hard, but it is time to get your heiny in that pool and work. Now go ... and I don't want to hear anything else out of you." With that she walked back to the pool and according to her coach, worked hard the remaining time.
On the way home, I felt pretty darn good about my parenting. I held my ground. I stated my case and it appeared to be well-received. I deserved a little pat on the back.
At 7:15 pm, I found Sadie asleep with the dog on the dog bed. At 10:00 pm, she called me, weakly from her room asking me to help her. I walked upstairs, took one look at her and knew...she was sick. Those fiery red lips, little pea eyes and a body that felt on fire.
Yup. Chalk another great mothering moment up for me. Nice one, God. I say that without a hint of sarcasm and with complete submission. Clearly, my perspective on my 8 year old daughter, her "swimming career," and my belief that I had some control over either had grown ridiculously out of whack.
As a follow-up, I did take her to the doctor today. Everything major has been ruled out, including mono. The doctor was in agreement that all this sickness has just about been enough. A course of major antibiotics and no swimming for at least a week was the order.