published Monday, May 26th, 2014

Grand Thoughts: Sick grandchild brings out the fear in me

I am no longer in the running for "Grandmother of the Year."

My family is mad at me.

The reason?

I made my husband and daughter take my 4-year-old granddaughter, Evie, to the emergency room Sunday night.

Evie had been sick for five days, running a high fever off and on (mostly on), had a constant cough and could not keep anything down. I had been helping my daughter take care of her.

My daughter, thinking ahead, had called Evie's pediatrician on Friday and made an appointment for Monday in case Evie was still sick.

But on Sunday night, my daughter called and asked if I'd come to her house (they live next door) to hold Evie while she cooked dinner. She said Evie's fever was high again, and she wanted to be constantly held. It was what my daughter said next that had me flying out of my house and running into her living room in record-breaking time. She told me Evie's bottom lip was swollen, and she didn't know why.

The first thing that came to mind was a food allergy and, though I'm not educated on everything about food allergies, I did know one thing -- they can be deadly.

Earlier in the day, during a small time frame when she was feeling better, Evie had attempted to eat a little. It crossed my mind that she could have been having an allergic reaction, hence the swollen lip, to what she had eaten. Her immune system was compromised from being sick for days and, to put it frankly, I was terrified.

My daughter's demeanor is calm. In certain situations like this, I am not calm. She had done the right thing by calling a doctor and was waiting on a return call. But all I could think about was seeing Evie's lip as it was seemingly getting bigger.

The clock was ticking.

I have never been one to rush a child to the emergency room except when they sustained an injury and required stitches, and, in one case, a cast (broken arm from a fall on a trampoline). I do not abuse the system. But never had I experienced a child with a swollen lip without knowing the cause, especially a swollen lip while running a high fever, vomiting and constant coughing. A trip to the emergency room was a no-brainer to me.

It was not a knee-jerk reaction. I was afraid that, if it was an allergy, time was of the essence. A coworker of mine has a child with a food allergy, and I remember how scary it was when they first found out about it.

Four hours later, after an X-ray and several doses of over-the-counter medicine, Evie and company were home. And they were aggravated as heck at me. My daughter told me that it had been a traumatizing experience for Evie. My husband hardly spoke to me.

Uh oh.

Still, they brought home the best news I could hear. Evie was OK. She had a virus (and was not dehydrated -- something I also feared since she hadn't been able to keep anything down for five days), and the swollen lip was probably caused by trauma, probably biting her lip while vomiting. She was not experiencing an allergic reaction to food or whatever.

Thank goodness. Right or wrong, I erred on the side of caution.

I didn't go to the hospital because I stayed home to take care of William, 20 months, and Tilleigh, 7. It was dinner time, a school night, and I felt I could be of more help by staying with the children. But I seriously wanted to be with Evie.

Did I overreact? Probably.

Did I have a right telling my daughter what to do? Probably not. She's a good mother, and I should trust her judgment. I guess I've got to learn to stand back and keep my mouth shut. Easier said than done.

I do feel bad, though, that I caused them to be mad at me.

Still, when I went to bed later that night, I knew my precious little girl was going to be OK. And, bottom line, that's all that matters.

Contact Karen Nazor Hill at khill@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6396.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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