Smelly_socks: A Mother's Instinct is Never Wrong

Oct. 4, 2012 at 5:04 a.m.

Charlie resting in his hospital bed.

Charlie resting in his hospital bed.

City Life

By Anita Spisak

"They" say you should always trust your instincts, especially when it comes to your children.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard this from friends, family and strangers. But it never proved more true for me than a few weeks ago.

It was a sunny, hot Friday morning. Adam came running into our bedroom saying "Charlie doesn't want to play."

I went into Charlie's room and noticed him lying in his bed somewhat listless. I tried to change him out of his pajamas, but all he wanted to do was lay down and close his eyes.

Not normal for a 3-year-old who just had about 9 hours of sleep. I took his temperature and it came up normal.

I tried to bribe him with everything from ice cream to TV, but nothing could rouse him up. All he wanted to do was lay down and close his eyes.

I started getting frustrated because Charlie is not much of a talker. He says what he needs to when he wants something or is trying to tell you something but that's pretty much about it.

So it was hard to get him to tell me what was wrong or how he was feeling. When I asked him if he was tired, he said "yes" and proceeded to close his eyes and lay down on the bedroom carpet.

My stomach started twisting inside. Something was not right.

My husband thought we should just wait and see what happens, but my inner worry wart and mother's instinct was starting to kick in.

So, without much further thought, I drove him to the emergency room, thinking we'd walk out with a dose of Motrin and a big bill. Silly me.

The doctor took his temperature and said he had no fever. They then ruled out an ear infection, a cold, strep, and West Nile virus.

They took an X-ray of his chest to rule out pneumonia but they still couldn't figure out what was wrong and why he was listless. The ER doctor wanted to give him a dose of Motrin and let him "rest" at home.

The last thing that he suggested doing was a blood work up. They said normally they don't like to do those to the little guys so he suggested we go home and wait it out.

As much as I didn't want him to go through the needle prodding, something inside me kept nagging for it to be done. Yes, it was painful and both Charlie and I cried, but I thank God that I had pushed them.

They came back 20 minutes later and told me that his white blood cell count was elevated to a level of which wasn't good.

At this point, they decided to give him a dose of antibiotics that would last him for the next 24 hours. I wasn't happy about the antibiotics but I knew it needed to be done, especially since they had no clue on what kind of virus he might have had.

The doctor then thought it'd be best if he was observed overnight so we were transported by ambulance to the hospital. Once we got there, the antibiotics must have kicked in because he was a little bit livelier.

Joe and Adam visited him that afternoon. He promptly fell asleep as soon as they left and slept peacefully throughout the night except for the times they came in to measure his vitals.

The next day he seemed to be back to his normal self. They ran another blood work and his white blood cell count showed it was returning to normal.

To be safe, they gave him one more round of antibiotics and sent him home that afternoon, where we all promptly went to the nearest ice cream parlor and celebrated his getting better with banana splits.

They say a mothers' instinct is almost never wrong. In my heart, I knew something wasn't right so I insisted on the blood work up even though it's not part of the ER's norm for little children. I don't like to think of what would've happened if I hadn't been insistent.

Frankly, I don't want to know. I'm just happy to have my Charlie back home with us.

Anita lives in Chicagoland with her husband, two boys and two dogs, one of which is a girl. Email Johanna Bloom or Anita Spisak at



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