Joey did not want to go anywhere. He wanted no part of changing from pajamas to sweatpants, or of going for a ride in the car. He was gray-faced and watery-eyed and he croaked at me in his weak little voice, "Let's just go tomorrow."
But I had made the appointment, and honestly I was afraid. I'm always afraid when my children come down with something I don't immediately recognize. This hoarse, dry cough and high fever seemed unusual to me, and I needed professional medical affirmation that he was okay.
He threw up as soon as he sat down in the waiting room. I was mortified. The nurses and receptionists were kind and understanding, and assured me it was absolutely normal for them to see a child puke in the waiting room.
Awesome. Really awesome. I should honestly get the neck sign made: "I am a germophobe, and you are freaking me out." Of course, I couldn't escape that I was responsible for the germs this time, so I accepted the kindness greedily while honestly trying not to cry for Joey, who was understandably upset.
I comforted Joey and cleaned up what I could before we were rushed in to be seen (I hate to admit it, but not waiting was a major perk of public vomiting).
Once in the exam room, all color returned to Joey's face and he entertained himself by reading all of the posted signs in the room. He had read all about GERD, asthma, and the latest car seat regulations when my least favorite doctor entered the room. Dr. Joe.
Dr. Joe is young and good-looking with perfectly spiked hair. I mean there's really no question that he individually gels each spike into place every morning. He's trim and wears flat-front khakis and says things like, "Hey, there. It's me, Dr. Joe." I imagine he practices this in front of the mirror before work every day.
Since I don't like him, it automatically follows that he's Joey's favorite. "After all, Mom," he said, "we have the same name." Right. Perfect grounds for choosing your medical health care professional.
Dr. Joe did the routine things, and I was relieved when Joey allowed him to do a strep swab (without vomiting, which, according the nurse was all my fault because I'd given him milk--I totally hate myself).
Finally, Dr. Joe concluded that Joey just has a cold. Isn't it great that I dragged my miserable child out in the cold rain, let him vomit in public, and paid a copay for "Just push fluids and make sure he gets plenty of rest." Why can't they at least give out fake medicine? I'd be happy if they handed me a pack of Smarties and told me they were felix felicis, but no. Nothing.
As Dr. Joe was about to scurry from the room, Joey stopped him. "I think you should know," he said in his sick raspy voice. His eyes were tearing from the strain of speaking. "My mom had a birthday."
A birthday. A birthday. Please don't let him explain that Mommy had three birthday parties because she is...
"She had a birthday, and her cousin came, and she was sick."
"Oooh," said Dr. Joe, looking from Joey to me and back again.
Joey held up a hand, signaling he had more to say. "She was very sick, and--"
"Joey, honey, you weren't even near that cousin," I interrupted.
"NO!" he insisted. "She came into the kitchen and she leaned against the table and then I ate at the table. " He leaned forward and focused his eyes earnestly on Dr. Joe. "That's probably why I'm sick."
Dr. Joe turned and looked at me. Oh, dear. I could tell he was thinking it was a little strange that a six-year-old kid would have put so much thought into how he contracted his illness.
If I hadn't been holding in my laughter, I probably would have been embarrassed. But honestly, I just love Joey. Even in sickness he's still Joey.
P.S.--If you're thinking this is my influence, you should meet Noah. They are who they are, people.
P.P.S.--Okay. It might be genetics. I'll give you that.