Wednesday, July 30, 2014

You Mean I Left the Bar for This?

At around 11 am on the day my dad passed away, a Catholic priest arrived at his hospital room to perform last rites.

My father was not Catholic. He was not any particular religion, and he was definitely not Catholic. There must have been some mixup on Dad's intake forms.

Dad's two best friends, his step-daughter, her husband, and J, all of whom happen to be Jewish, were sitting outside of his room when the priest arrived. The priest could have stepped out of Central Casting for the role of Father Flanagan. He was clearly an Irish Catholic priest, complete with dog collar, beautiful white hair, and broken blood vessels in his cheeks giving him a rosy complexion.

Father Flanagan stepped into Dad's room, after giving Dad's friends and family an odd look, took one look at my (Jewish) stepmother, and traipsed back out again, exclaiming "This guy's not Catholic!"

The subtext, which was left unsaid, was "You mean I left the bar for this?"

J and I have chuckled several times over this incident. We know that Dad, who delighted in irreverence, would have been tickled to know that he managed to tick off a priest as his final act.

On Sunday, I had another conversation containing that very same subtext (although possibly with a different locale from which the subtexter may have departed.)

You see, we woke up to find that BB had developed a rash all over his body. It didn't seem to be bothering him much, so I put a little ointment on it and got to work on my Sunday. Several hours later, I found that the rash had spread to the little guy's hips, and looked much worse.

All of a sudden it hit me that I did not know what chicken pox looked like. And that BB was not due for his chicken pox vaccination until later this year.

I Googled for chickenpox, found some truly disturbing images, and decided that BB's rash looked like a less-severe version of it. So, I put in a call to our pediatrician's answering service so that the doctor-on-call could contact me.

I have used this service a handful of times over the years: once when LO was very congested, once when BB had a 102° fever, and once for a sunburn (that I really did not have to call for but I was just following the rules according to my Google search). In each case, the doctor on call responded in under 10 minutes.

On Sunday, the pediatrician took over 20 minutes to call back. There was a slight huffiness to her voice as I asked her about what we needed to do for BB. I understood that chicken pox was no big deal to her--having seen cases upon cases upon cases during her career--but since this was my first go-round with the ailment (other than when I had the pox as a child myself), I was hoping to get  slightly more sympathetic answers to my questions.

At one point, the pediatrician actually said to me "I don't know what you're hoping to get from this conversation."

Again, she was thinking of the fact that there is nothing to do for chicken pox but wait. I was thinking of the fact that I did not know exactly how contagious it was and didn't know if BB should be kept from seeing the light of day for two weeks, or if I could take him grocery shopping with me if I was careful about keeping him from chewing on other people. (Or, at least their exposed skin.)

The subtext was clearly "You mean I left the bar for this?"

We were not able to get BB in to see our regular pediatrician (who was not the doc-on-call, by the way) until Tuesday afternoon, at which time it was determined that the child has come down with hand-foot-and-mouth disease, despite having no pockmarks on his hands, feet, or mouth. He always did like to march to beat of his own skin rash.

As for how he got it, I think I know. The Tippecanoe County 4-H Fair was set up right next door to his daycare last week. BB was clearly hanging out with the horses when no one was looking.

I just hope to eventually be as amused by our pediatrician's subtext as I am by Father Flanagan's.

Doesn't seem likely, though.

Image source and source

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