I'm writing this post in the middle of the night. It's 2:38 am, and I'm sitting here in the pitch-black, frizzy hair illuminated only by the glow of the computer screen, hunched forward because I'm like totally blind without my contacts in. I wish I could say it was silent in here, but I can seriously hear Curtis snoring from all the way in the back of the house - dude sounds like a rusty chainsaw - which is part of the reason I'm awake right now.

But only part of the reason.

The other part is that, well, I think I have a serious disease.

It all started two days ago, when Colin came home from school. I was going through all the papers in his backpack, looking over each sheet. Awww, he's doing so much better about not writing in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. ... Hmmm, we need to pick up the stuff we ordered from his fundraiser. ... Yay, he gets to have a Halloween party on the 29th. ... Ohhh, he's been - exposed to pertussis?!

Yes. There it was, tucked between the school newsletter and his homework assignment: a letter that proclaimed, in a very urgent-looking headline, "YOUR CHILD HAS BEEN EXPOSED TO PERTUSSIS (WHOOPING COUGH)."

We got a general letter about it, along with a pertussis fact sheet, a few weeks ago. It seems they've had outbreaks of it in several of the schools around here, so they were letting everybody know. But this is the first indication that it's ever been present at his school.

Anyway, being the over-concerned mother that I am, I immediately rifled through my stack of junk important papers and found the fact sheet. Pertussis starts out exactly like the common cold, it said - and because of that fact, it isn't often diagnosed until the second stage, when the coughing fits get so severe that they produce a "whooping" sound when the person's trying to take in air. It's also highly contagious.

Still, all seemed well around here ... until the wee hours of yesterday morning, when Colin came to crawl in bed with us at about 4:30. Coughing.

It wasn't anything big, just a few little coughs here and there. In the morning, when he woke up, he complained that his throat was a little bit sore, but after he ate breakfast he said it was better, and he wasn't coughing any more. Didn't have a stuffy nose. Didn't have a fever. Was normal Colin. (Well, okay, he was Colin ... "normal" is subjective.)

But last night, I was sitting on the couch after the kids had gone to bed, watching the Teen Mom finale special and mad wishing for a pint of Ben & Jerry's, when I started to feel a persistent tickle in my throat. It had gone away by morning, but when evening rolled around I felt pretty bad - my throat was sore, my nose was getting runny, and I just had that "I'm coming down with something" malaise. You know, like in the "Peanuts" comics when they're sick and they have that little squiggle over their heads?

Which brings us to now. Here I sit, researching the crap out of pertussis symptoms. I was Googling it from the comfort of my bed until my iPhone died, so now I'm at the computer (and FYI? I'm not wearing pants). All I'm finding out is pretty much a rephrasing of what's on the stupid fact sheet that I've read so many times I've nearly got it memorized. (Oh yeah - and that the antibiotic they use to treat it just so happens to be the one I'm deathly allergic to.) How am I supposed to know if this is indeed a common cold or the start of some wicked disease?

I'm relatively paranoid; I seriously think my every twinge, ache, or bruise is a sure sign of cancer. It's a good thing I wasn't born in the pioneer days, or I'd have farted and had the whole wagon train thinking I was dying of dysentery. So you would think that someone like me would have my doctor's phone number on standby. But I don't - because I don't even have a doctor. I haven't been to a doctor - except an OB/GYN, for pregnancies - in years. And I'd hate to search for a decent physician, make sure they accept our insurance, call around trying to arrange for child care or have Curtis leave work so he can watch the kids, and schlep myself to the doctor's office only to have them say, "Uh ... ma'am? It's just a cold. Go home and get some chicken soup or something."

But still. I mean ... pertussis, y'all. And now? Curtis has it too.

The kids are still fine - no more symptoms out of Colin - but they've also been vaccinated for it much more recently than either Curtis or I have.

If anybody wants to donate a laptop, I'll write a final post from my deathbed.


  1. Can you will me the laptop after you die? What?

  2. You have no laptop????? UNACCEPTABLE! A writer must have a laptop! If I had an extra, I would send you one!

    And the Whooping Cough thing is scary, neither of my kids have had the vaccination - well, Morgan had one and had a violent seizure and fever reaction, therefore she hasn't had another, neither has Dallas and Drake can't either. Too big a risk. BUT that is what makes me nuts when kids aren't vaccinated and they should be but their parents are too lazy, illegal, or have some sort of random objection. Those kids are putting my grandson at riks. GRRRRR, and you get better, think positive thoughts!

  3. I laughed out loud at "FYI? I'm not wearing pants." My suggestion if you need a doctor ASAP is to go to one of those clinics that's available pretty much all the time. Feel better!

  4. I'm an uber hypochondriac about my own health. I can't imagine what would happen if I had kids!

  5. You need to go to a doctor and get some antibiotics. It may not be pertussis, but it could be some variety of the flu that has become so dangerous to so many people. In any case, you deserve - and need - to feel better fast!
    Also (and I never thought about this before), you need to tell the pediatrician that you're allergic to Erythromycin in case the boys are, too. You had taken it a couple of other times without problems when you had that serious reaction and couldn't breathe. We don't want to take any chances with the kids!
    Feel better soon! XXXOOO

  6. I would tell you to think positive, but how can you be expected to think positive when you have PERTUSSIS!?!?

  7. If you've had your T-DAP booster recently, you should be fine. But I'd recommend going to the doc either way.

  8. I flip out when I get the lice ones... I start itching, checking my kids' scalps, generally being a weird mom.

    You are not alone ;)

  9. I think you need to stop reading WebMD and GO TO BED. You would probably not feel as sick if you actually got some sleep! :)

  10. Okay, Rita, we may have a problem if I consistently read your posts and I almost spit out the wine that is to ensure a good night's sleep. :) The fart/dysentery line almost made me spray my Pinot on the monitor. I love it! That has brightened my day...not the fact that you are dying of this nasty disease but the WAY in which you wrote about how you are dying. Thank you. It's been a long day...

  11. I am new to your blog and I LOVE it. Your writing is wonderful. I am sure you are not dying but just in case you are (which btw-I assure you you most certainly are not) please go to a neighborhood clinic and have a quick physical. Your health is your wealth my dear, without you have nada! Feel better soon

  12. Hi - I got to your posting b/c I wanted to see if anyone else had coined the phrase "hypomomdriac." I thought of it last week in a slightly different sense: a mom who thinks her child is ill all the time, usually in response to the health scare du jour (e.g. swine flu, gluten allergy, etc.).


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