Coping with the plague

What exactly does “viral” mean? Besides the whole “of, pertaining to, or caused by a virus” spiel? It is quickly becoming a term that I am having trouble comprehending on a fairly regular basis, which is strange, since the definition seems pretty cut and dried.

What exactly does “viral” mean?

Besides the whole “of, pertaining to, or caused by a virus” spiel?

It is quickly becoming a term that I am having trouble comprehending on a fairly regular basis, which is strange, since the definition seems pretty cut and dried.

Here’s the scenario: We go to a play date/park date/public establishment.

Enter sick child.

Cue my son and sick child having some sort of predestined interaction that requires the exchange of saliva/toy/breathing space.

Picture two magnets, if you will.

Fast forward to the next day when my son will have invariably started showing symptoms of either a cough, fever, runny nose or the whole kit and caboodle — it never fails.

Rivulets of green snot, seemingly labored breathing, flushed skin and a hack like a tortured seal — these appealing images make up the portrait of my son, the walking biochemical cesspool.

That was harsh… I should say, my walking biochemical cesspool.

The routine that follows is thus: I try supremely hard to be a tough, New Age Mommy who laughs in the face of infection and thinks only of my child’s bolstered immune system while avoiding antibiotics like the plague.

This charade usually lasts two-three days.

Then either the lack of sleep and masses of empty Kleenex boxes get under my skin or I neurotically imagine a new symptom, such as spots or bumps, while lying in bed trying to catch up on sleep at 1:30 in the morning.

This hypochondriac-like tendency of mine results in me calling the clinic precisely at 8:30 a.m. to lock in the next available appointment for my son.

Of course, what any worrywart like me will be able to tell you is that there is a word to describe appointments like these: useless.

You pack up the kids and necessary diversion tactics such as snacks and the iPod; you wait anywhere from five to 60 minutes in a room that basically ensures if you weren’t sick before, you will be when you leave (there is a reason they put plastic covers on the magazines…); and then it’s your turn and the doctor responds, after dutifully checking out your child for, what, five minutes: “It’s viral”.

Which can be taken as “I don’t really know” if you’re feeling grouchy from dealing with a ultra-needy child for the past few days but more likely, it is best translated as a simple “I can’t help you”.

Which is great, just perfect! Because that’s what every self-respecting mother likes to do to start off her day — waste her time and the time of those around her.

I mean, the least they could do is start some sort of Frequent Cougher Program. With a little punch card — now wouldn’t that be cute?

Maybe I should just start a support group for mothers like me to commiserate on needing help but finding none.

We can’t meet on Tuesdays, though.

I heard that’s when the doctors like to get together to talk about us moms.

Raina Dezall wishes that garbage cans and toilets were the opposite of interesting to her son. You can contact her at mother_load@hotmail.com.