Think Healthy Thoughts

I still remember the feeling of utter dread when I read the subject of this email from daycare:

Attn: Pinworms

It was my second week at work after returning from maternity leave. My first and (at the time) only child was in her second week of daycare.

The email was a ‘heads up’ that another child at daycare had been diagnosed with pinworms. Here are the symptoms. Here’s how they are transmitted. Attached is a friendly reminder of our illness policy.

Overcoming my urge to dial 911 and simultaneously book a flight home to Nova Scotia and move in with my mother because F*** this, I instead popped into a co-worker’s office. She had kids, and hopefully a brown paper bag for me to breath into, so maybe she could provide some perspective. She did.

Turns out, these emails, PSAs and health alerts were about to become part of our parenting routine, like ABCs, 123s and Clara From Kindergarten Has Lice.

Once children enter into social activities of any kind, parents enter into an illness obstacle course – sidestepping parasites, pertussis and pink eye (oh my).

Notices like these don’t incite the same panic for me as they once did. I’ve become conditioned not to overreact, and to take any (to be expected) unexpected health scares in stride.

This isn’t always the case with our pets. About a year ago, my husband was rubbing our beloved canine’s belly after the kids were finally in bed. He noticed a lump on her chest. Our dog is eight-years-old and incredibly healthy, so this was a bit of a shock.

I took her to our vet, who made no effort to hide his dire concern that this mass was more than just a deposit of fat. We ordered the gold standard of diagnostics tests. Cancer? Pancreatitis? Feline Diabetes? Run them all!

Turns out it was a deposit of fat. We were grateful for the outcome, but it did demonstrate how unprepared we were for a pet health scare.

Fast forward to this week. Our precious cat has been lethargic and a little withdrawn. And yesterday, she ‘eliminated’ on the floor outside her litter box. When she hadn’t moved from her bed for hours, I called our vet. They couldn’t fit us in, but suggested we take her to the animal hospital.

There, the vet examined her symptoms and took her temperature (worryingly high).

After the blood was drawn and the fluids administered, I paid our bill. (The last thing you want your vet to say is, “First things first, do you have insurance?”)

It was steep – especially considering this was just diagnostics. Who knows what the cost of treatment may be. But paying for treatment would mean that at least it’s treatable, which is better than the alternative.

Now, I’m not saying that I can handle my kids getting sick, but I can’t handle my pets getting sick. I can’t handle anyone being sick, ever. We will wait and see what’s going on with our feline family member, and just hope that it’s something the vet can handle.

In the meantime, I’ll embrace the impending end of the flu season and some possible relief from sniffles, sore throats and sickness of all kinds.

Until we see this sign at the local pool when swimming lessons start up again:

Outbreak: Warts.

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