It’s official I am a helicopter parent. I know the exact moment it happened. I’ve been dipping my toe in the helicopter parenting pool for about 8 years now but I’ve tried to keep from jumping into the deep end. I tried to fool myself into thinking, I had a little bit of free range in me but I was wrong.
I don’t know if it’s because it’s shark week, or because it’s almost the first and that always reminds me of the fragility of life or if it’s because I’ve been teetering on the edge of freaking out lately since I heard about the Rory Staunton incident.
Well, incident is the understatement of the year, a little boy died from an untreated staph infection and that’s not the first time I’ve known this to happen. I had a student who died from Staphylococcal Meningitis. I saw her on Thursday and she was dead by the following Monday. Staph has scared the hell out of me since the day that she died.
It’s not that I’ve been running around town for the past 11 years afraid to touch things or anything like that but I am acutely aware of the tragedy that staph can inflict upon the world. I’m not so much afraid for myself. I am more afraid to be the one who is left behind to feel the loss. I can never forget that look of complete brokenness and loss that her parents had on their faces as I hugged them and offered them my condolences. It was the look of total defeat and all-consuming pain. That’s what I am afraid of; the fear of knowing the pain that causes that look keeps me up at night.
I’ve been pushing that fear down and trying to pretend that I am not terror stricken by the thought. I’ve hovered but not too closely to my children. Then Friday night, while drying off my 7-year-old after her shower, I saw something that frightened me and brought those old fears soaring to the surface.
Thursday, she had shown me a small pearl colored bump on her inner arm. It looked like a molluscum. No big deal, she’s had them for the past year. She asked for a Band-Aid to cover it so that in the case it popped, it wouldn’t spread. I happily obliged.
Friday when I as drying her off, I removed the Band-Aid and what was about the size of a small pearl the previous day had grown to the size of a dime and was now filled with yellow puss. My heart sank. My mind immediately went to an infected spider bite, which, we all know, can have a bad prognosis the longer it’s gone untreated. My head was swirling with thoughts of her having to have her arm amputated or losing mobility or worse. All the while, the background noise in my mind was a prayer for her to be okay, on a constant loop.
I dressed her quickly and we rushed her to the Redi-med. The Big Guy and I tried to remain calm and composed but I was holding back tears and he was scared. We didn’t voice our fears because she was within earshot but the speed at which he drove us to the Redi-Med told me all that I needed to know. It was Friday night and the emergency room was going to be an endless wait and her doctor had already left the office for the day. Why does this sort of stuff always happen on the weekend?
After what seemed like an eternity waiting to be called back to see the doctor and making idle chitchat to keep her calm, we finally were called back. One look at the puss filled sore and the doctor said, “ I think its MRSA. We’ll culture it to be sure but we’ll start treating it as MRSA. If you let these things go too long without being treated they can go south real fast.”
And with that one statement, a full on helicopter parent was born right there in the Redi-med on a Friday night. In case you are wondering what MRSA is, it is a treatment resistant super bug. It’s also a strain of staph; Methicillin-resistant staphylococcal aureus to be specific. My heart sank to the pit of my stomach and they sent us home with antibiotics and creams and strict instructions of how not to pass it on because it is contagious.
We have been waiting since Friday. I have turned into a germaphobe over the weekend. I have not slept since Friday. I will soon be inducted into the helicopter parent hall of fame. It’s amazing how the power to love someone so much also runs the risk of losing someone and that, my friends, can make a Mommy become a helicopter parent faster than you can say MRSA.
Pray for us. Pray that my Bella is fine and gets well soon. Pray that this is nothing more than just a simple infection. Pray that you never have to wait to hear the results on a health issue for your child. I will pray too. Meanwhile, I will embrace my newly found place in the helicopter parent world.
**Just got the call from the doctor. It’s NOT MRSA, it’s Gram-positive Cocci Staphylococcus. It’s still a staph infection and it’s still recommended that we bathe the girls in anti-bacterial bath wash from now until to forever to prevent the staph from being there to get into the skin. I’ve learned my lesson. Anti-bacterial bath wash forever for this family and yes, I am officially a helicopter parent now.