I learned something about social networking recently. In one particular way, Facebook is a lot like Hogwarts. Help, will always be given to those who ask for it.
It was still dark on Saturday morning when my two children burst into my bedroom. Within moments I was wide awake. Only the wails and rushing tears of you own child in a total panic and unquestionable pain can stir that kind of awareness.
He stood before me, arms locked to the sides of his head, fists balled, and through his screams and sobs tried to tell me what was wrong. It’s always the mother who understands her child better than anyone else, but this time he stumped me. I had no idea what he was trying to say.
My usual outspoken six-year old stood by, mouth agape, watching her brother in quiet alarm. At a loss I turned to her and asked if she had any idea what was wrong with him. What was he saying???
“His neck hurts.” she blurted out. She might as well have added, “Duh!” I’m going to blame on my nonexistent caffeine levels on why she was more adept at Incoherent Preschooler to English translation.
Within moments we were in the bathroom and I was trying to soothe him with a cool cloth and trying in vain to unlock his arms still clenching the sides of his head. It didn’t take long for me to realize he was doing this because it hurt too much to hold his head up on his own.
I tried to get him to turn his head from side to side and found that he could not twist left at all. At my husband’s suggestion we decided to lay him in our bed to see if he would calm down. In a flash I ran for the Kindle, the Nook, and my iPhone while muttering to myself, “Always on a weekend. This crap never happens on a Wednesday when the doctor’s office is open.” Technology in hand we began tapping towards WebMD and Googling “stiff neck in children.”
Go ahead. Give it a Google. But only do so if you are not in the same predicament I was, because you will not like what you find. The top five hits all had one thing in common: Meningitis.
Now let it be known that while I did take some cursory glances through the articles to review the symptoms, I am not one of those people who would jump to the immediate worst conclusion. Regardless, my husband (who might strongly disagree with my last statement) made it very clear before I even got the chance to open my mouth that I should not panic, with the firm yet comforting words, “Before you say anything, it is NOT Meningitis!”
Of course I knew he was right, and despite my small worries I knew there was no cause for that major an alarm. He was otherwise healthy. He had no signs of illness, no fever, no vomiting, no rash, not even sniffles. He had a stiff neck.
So I did what any other mother would do in this situation. I left a message for the on call doctor and took to Facebook. I asked friends if anyone had any holistic remedies for treating a stiff neck in children, and despite the warnings for Meningitis and my initial resurgence of not panicking (Tony: “IT’S NOT MENINGITIS!”), I was given some great ideas. People suggested medicated rubs and heating pads. An old friend reached out and told me of a similar circumstance from when she was a child and how her mom handled it. It was a great deal of support from such a lovely network of people.
We had actually tried the heating pad, but it just wasn’t getting around his little neck the way he needed it. Then someone suggested a rice sock (rice packed in a tube sock and heated in the microwave for warmth). I had never heard of it but man, did it sound like a good idea. It turned out to be a lifesaver! The doctor confirmed that we were doing the right things by keeping him rested, and using something akin to Icy Hot as much as he could take it (for kids I don’t recommend more than 2% menthol) and giving him Motrin regularly. But that rice sock gave him the best comfort and he used it on and off for the 36 hours straight that he was immobile.
Miraculously, by Sunday night he ventured off the couch a little. On Monday he was still visibly stiff but was playful and high spirited. A few days later he was back to his old self. We never really knew what did it and pretty much just assume he slept funny.
It was the worst 36 hours we have had in a long time. There is nothing more frustrating or agonizing than watching a loved one in pain and feeling powerless to help him. It’s even worse when you are his mommy and he is looking to you to make it all better. How do you explain that while you are doing everything you can to comfort him, the only fix is time.
Thanks to my Facebook friends for coming to our rescue! Indeed, I have no doubt that help will always be given on Facebook to those who ask for it.
Well, unless you do something crazy like ask for money. Then you’re shit out of luck.