Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: Human Petri Dish

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Human Petri Dish

My son has a new diagnosis as of yesterday. For the past few days, he has progressively developed an impressive collection of gnarly red welts/bumps that first coalesced in one spot on his trunk and then slowly but surely spread down his groin, up his neck, and onto his face. The lesions on his face are more faint and difficult to see because of his preexisting eczema. I contacted the physician on call Sunday night and explained the situation, adding as a side note that he has WS. He cut me off and snapped, "Well, that wouldn't have anything to do with it! Does he have a sore throat?"

(long pause and sound of chirping crickets while I get my knickers out of a wad)

Hold on. Let me ask him. Oh, right. Like I said, he has Williams' syndrome. My mother and I had a good laugh over that one, because if we asked Erik if his throat hurt, he would happily repeat, "THROAT!" He doesn't answer questions yet, Dr. Dorkenheimer. I also mentioned it because he has horribly sensitive skin, bumpy eczema all over his body, and connective tissue problems that might be an issue with a serious problem like lupus, not to mention slight narrowing of a major artery with possible heart problems that might become an issue if he develops a fever. I wanted reassurance but was treated like I didn't have two brain cells to rub together. He then asked me questions I knew were to rule out shingles. When he was satisfied that wasn't the case, he gave me the sage advice to just wait and see if it goes away. It's a good thing I wasn't at a pay phone, as I would demand my 35 cents back.

Yesterday morning when I got Erik up, the rash looked angry and had spread even further. There was a rubbery lymph node behind one ear, and the ones in his neck were swelling. I called the pediatric office, and they got me in yesterday afternoon. The waiting room was quite an adventure. There was a little girl with her impeccably suited, fresh-from-work father. She was pressing an ice pack to her head and had a huge, wet bloodstain on her blouse. Another little girl jammed her hand between the moving panes of glass in the automatic door, and her mother leaped to grab her while yelling the "you-scared-the-crap-out-of-me-you're-not-in-trouble-I'm-trying-not-to-yell" yell. When they joined us in line, I turned to the mother and remarked I had not seen anyone move that fast all day. I squinted at her as I realized that I was looking into the familiar face of a very nice girl I used to know 30 years ago. We went to the same grade school. After we exchanged pleasantries and I made a mental note to myself to get her address from her grandmother, who lives down the street from my parents, I took Erik over to sit down in the waiting area, where he busied himself saying "HI!" to every miniature passerby. It's quite obvious kids think Erik is industrial strength weird, which used to bother me but I am now enjoying immensely. It's good for them. Erik doesn't know how to really talk in the conventional sense, except to make noises or say one word over and over. He knows billions of words, but he can't string them together yet. When he is trying to get someone's attention, he will either laugh like a loon, say "hi" over and over, repeat what they say, or just frantically make a lot of sounds. After Erik emptied out his bag of tricks running through this entire list of these things, one little boy asked his mother, "Why is that boy talking?" Erik was trying to get his attention and was making random sounds. When his mother didn't answer him, he repeated, "WHY?" When Erik heard "why," he said the thing that made the most sense to him and would surely include him in the conversation -- "Z!" He thought the little boy was reciting part of the alphabet. I smiled to myself and didn't give the dreadful little boy or his mother the time of day.

Pityriasis rosea.

That's what Dr. G. said his rash looked like. Well, sort of. The truth is, another physician came in and confirmed that they have no idea what the hell it is. If it is pityriasis, there isn't a physician on the planet who knows why it occurs, and I confirmed this by looking in my nursing dictionary. They assured me it wasn't contagious and that Erik could go to group today. When I asked Erik's doctor if it would look worse before it got better, she just smiled at me and said nothing. I was clearly in the presence of genius. Erik collected his Thomas the train stickers from the doctor, who is obviously quite smitten with my son, so we didn't walk out empty-handed after all.


Blogger Aspen said...

I have actually had Pityriasis rosea before. I too freaked out because it just kept getting worse and wouldn't get any better. They essentially told me the same thing. Nothing you can do to prevent it, and nothing you can do to make it go away. But mine, eventually did as will Eriks. It didn't bother me in anyway, other than its annoying looks.

Glad to hear you finally got an answer. I love the Why - Z story! So funny and amazingly cute! Hope your day today is better.


7:40 AM  
Blogger Lisa R said...

Don't you just love Doctors. Sometimes I think that I should open up my own stand and treat kids on the street. I can be nice and call parents back :)

11:08 AM  
Blogger Amy K said...

H-I-J-larious! Erik rocks with the sly comebacks, just like his mama.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Kim, Grandma to Ava,ws said...

I LOVE YOU NANCY! Girl, you are just laugh-out-loud funny. I want you to move to Michigan and work in my office. Your sense of humor would make the day go so much better. Chirping crickets--knickers in a wad--I swear I'm gonna choke on my coffee when I try to relay your story tomorrow.

Erik was given to EXACTLY the right mommy. Don't ever forget it.

Love, Kim

3:35 PM  
Blogger Kerry said...

I would have loved to be in that waiting room... Erik is so delightful!

[You know, Dr Dorkenheimer probably didn't know what Williams was - he took time while you were answering to look it up in his big medical dictionary on his desk. ]

that rash sounds like a virus that has plagued around here a few times in the past... nothing but the rash on the trunk. Hope it didn't bug Erik too much.
Love -K

4:58 AM  
Blogger Lizard Eater said...

Errr, doctors! You know how has the place for ordinary folks to post their review of product? Wouldn't it be great if doctors had the same thing?

"Dr. S. will only spend 3 minutes examining your child, but you will spend 47 minutes in the waiting room, then 23 minutes in the exam room before he joins you. He will treat you as if your education stopped at grade 3. Other than that, he's fine."

7:45 AM  

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