The Mysterious Case of Kraup

I discovered what time it gets light out, this morning – 4:45am, that’s when. Perhaps you’re wondering, why on earth were you awake at 4.45am, on a Sunday no less?

At roughly 4.40am, I woke up to the decidedly unpleasant sound of a cough. It was no ordinary cough, this was the cough of a stranded walrus. I lay still in my warm bed, straining my ears to hear if I’d been mistaken or if it was perhaps an aberration. A one-off cough, if you will.

‘Twas not. I stumbled out of bed – having slept a whopping 3 hours – and lingered in the hallway for a nanosecond while trying to figure out which room ‘the cough’ was coming from.

‘Twas the Hen.

The same kid who had gone to bed happily. Had danced in his bedroom. Had sat through a [very tedious] chapter of Little House on the Prairie – the one where Laura Ingalls Wilder spends two pages describing how Pa built…a door. This same kid who’d been healthy a mere 8 hours earlier, was now barking. For lack of a better word.

I entered his bedroom where he was already sitting up in his bed. I asked questions that he did not answer so I plucked him out of bed and carried him to the kitchen where I turned on the light to see what I could see.

A sleepy, barking kid, with tears rolling down his cheeks – unable (or unwilling) to speak. That’s what I saw. I decided to wake up the professor so he could participate in the ‘what should we do’ assessment. Various scenarios ran through my head.

He’d spent nearly an hour petting and playing with an old spaniel-dog named Murphy. Perhaps he was allergic to the copious amounts of hair Murphy left behind on his hands and clothes.

Sixteen hours after the fact?!

We’d eaten some Filipino food for lunch. Perhaps a weird food allergy?

I gave him a teaspoon of Benadryl and dispatched the professor to take him to the Children’s Hospital. The one place we’d managed to avoid in our nearly four year tenure here. ‘Where is it?’ my sleepy husband who doesn’t know where anything is located, asked.

There was a frantic search for the Hen’s health card and a semi-charged cell phone and then they were at the door; the Hen wearing his Batman pajamas and a pair of green flip flops. I figured he needed a jacket at the very least. ‘Here,’ I reached for his arms to help him put on the jacket I’d found lying by the door. The one that belonged to his older brother. He shook his head. ‘Different jacket,’ he squawked.

[I’d like to take this moment to point out that, even in medical distress, my children still have staunch opinions about what they will and will not wear.]

It was the moment I should have said: ‘never mind, you can’t be too terribly ill if you refuse your brother’s jacket.’ But I didn’t and the professor sped off in the rusty Venture. And I, buoyed by the chain of events and the fear that the Hen had suffered from a messy-house induced panic attack, cleaned the house while I waited for news from the Children’s Hospital.

The professor called: ‘he corrected me on his birthday.’ I laughed thinking, again, that the child must be perfectly fine if he can remind his father that he was born on August 28, not the 27th which is his baby brother’s birthday.

The professor called again. ‘They think it might be croup.’

The professor called again. ‘Can I just go home? We’ve been waiting in this room for over an hour and the kid is fine.’

At 7.45am, they returned home. The Hen bounced into the house with a faded blue ring around his mouth courtesy of the popsicle he’d been given at the hospital; high from the two minutes of video games he’d played in the waiting area.

The other boys were still asleep, so we three hunkered down for a nap.

At some point, the Gort woke up. He walked into our room requesting breakfast. We mumbled something about how we hadn’t slept. At some point Percy woke up. Luckily he has an eight year old brother who can lift him out of his crib. And feed both of them breakfast.

Even so, a very loud argument ensued: about how Percy was taking up too much room on the loveseat in the kitchen. Yes, truly. ‘I will pay you one dollar if you don’t fight with Percy,’ I promised-begged my oldest.

This is how you entertain your two year old brother for an hour

At 9.45, the Hen woke up. He entered the kitchen while I lay in bed listening to Dr. Gort. ‘Please don’t cough near me, I don’t want to catch what you have,’ he told the Hen. Seconds later: ‘Why is your mouth blue?!’ Seconds later, ‘you have kraup [that’s croup pronounced the American-German rather than French-ish way] you need ice cold orange juice.’

I walked into the kitchen right as my oldest retrieved the ice tray from the freezer and plunked a cube into a cup of orange juice for his ill brother. ‘Mom, Henners’ mouth is blue,’ he informed me. As if to say, ‘something is seriously wrong with that child and you need to do something about it.’

‘Yes,’ I agreed, ‘but notice how it’s a bright blue, sort of like the color of a marker? It’s from a popsicle they gave him at the hospital. If he was turning blue because he couldn’t breathe, it would be a different kind of blue.’ ‘He went to the hospital?!’ my alarmist-in-training responded. ‘Yes, he and Daddy went to the hospital.’ ‘That’s because he has kraup,’ the Gort told me. ‘I read the paper while I ate my breakfast.’

Apparently the Gort had found a paper describing ‘kraup’ and had read all about it while eating his cereal. He’d memorized all the symptoms and the treatments; a veritable nurse-on-call.

With very limited knowledge.

I didn’t bother telling him the doctor had concluded the Hen didn’t have kraup, after all.

The blue-mouthed wonder and his baby brother

4 thoughts on “The Mysterious Case of Kraup

  1. Good gracious – glom on to that one! That oldest of yours is bound to be a doctor. It is a very handy thing to have a doctor in the family! And a plumber – every family should have at least one of each!

  2. Berta, I’m really hoping for a mechanic and a plumber. I’ve got Google – I don’t need a doctor 🙂 Ma, yes, literacy isn’t always a great thing.


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