breaths per minute

One of the things I think about often is how fortunate we are that Alice is such a healthy girl. She is really, really healthy.

My parents tell nightmarish stories about secondary infections and febrile seizures.

But until a week ago today, Alice had never seen an emergency room. And even last Sunday night, when she was wheezy and a little out of breath, and we bundled her into the carseat at 8 p.m. to go to the hospital, it didn’t seem like a scary thing. Just better-safe.

She breezed through triage with some patience left over for the nurse who met us in the exam room. She let the doctor listen to her lungs, but when he tried to look into her ears, she lost control. She had enough. She screamed and waved frantically at the door.

Sometimes it’s just like that.

I felt terrible. She had been perfectly happy at home. Minding her own business. Watching Dumbo. Who asked for this, anyway?

The doctor ordered a treatment that David figured was as much for our benefit as Alice’s, and when it was over and we were waiting to be discharged, she started pointing at the box of blue latex gloves sitting on a countertop. I tried to distract her, but then thought, “Oh, man, she’s earned it.” And I gave her one.

Now. I imagine the doctor and the nurses must have pulled on fresh gloves when they came inside the exam room. But with my attention seized by all that squirming and sobbing and “It’s OK,” and “Almost done,” I couldn’t have said so for certain. I just didn’t notice.

But when I gave the glove to Alice – without explanation or direction. Without saying what it was for –  she tried immediately to shove her hand inside.

There’s just no getting anything past her, you know? It made me want to cry.

I had to wait until she was asleep – and deeply – to take it off again.

Oh, my gosh. I love her so much.


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