Today we are going to discuss the importance of teaching our kids to trust their bodies.
Why do we teach children not to trust their bodies? I am guilty of telling my kids they are fine and either trying not to go to school or practice. It frustrates me when I feel like they are manipulating, and if I am honest, a little voice in my head says they need to tough it out. Where does this come from?
My son went on an incredible journey to Costa Rica this summer. During his three weeks, he built a soccer field, dug fence posts, and laid concrete sidewalks. The Spanish immersion and the service-learning program weren’t all work. The team journeyed from Cartago to Uvita, where they learned to surf, hiked, and went whitewater rafting at the end of their trip. We received calls home that spoke to homesickness, teen dynamics, joy, and exhaustion. When he arrived home, I was grateful.
No rest for the weary in my house. His flight landed on Saturday, and soccer camp kicked off on Monday. A week of intense training was on tap in preparation for high school tryouts just two weeks away. After camp on Monday, he came home and slept the entire day. Tuesday, he complained that his back hurt and he didn’t feel well. It was here that I made a mistake. I told him that he needed to stop making excuses and show up if he wanted to make the team. That he always has reasons, if he didn’t want to play soccer, that was fine but not showing up is not going to work. So off he went to practice—what a mistake. We teach our kids so many things; why do we forget the importance of teaching them to trust their bodies?
I was at work when he came home. His text read, “I have goosebumps and am shivering.” Shit. The heat index was hovering around 110 and despite practice happening from 8-10 am, it was too hot for running full-tilt in the direct sun. I tell him to get in a cool bath and drink lots of liquids. That afternoon he slept and didn’t wake until 11 pm. He came into my room and looked frozen; it was then I realized he couldn’t move. He was quivering and burning up. The temp read 102.5. Back in the bathtub, he went while I grabbed Tylenol, towels, and a Covid test.
Two days later, we ended up in the hospital for 24 hours. They pumped him full of fluids and ran a million tests- Covid, Strep, Malaria, Zika, Dengue Fever, Lyme, Malaria again. He had Giardia and E.coli EPEC. Finally, the doctors started him on an antibiotic and sent us on our way. But that was not the end. The fevers sustained at 102.5, even 103; they came like waves and abated after about four hours. When they arrived, he shook uncontrollably, and it was scary.
After two more days of living hell, I drove him to John’s Hopkins, where he stayed for four days. By now, he developed blinding headaches that were becoming uncontrollable even with alternating Tylenol and Ibuprofen. Again, with all the tests, but now they added a CT scan, x-rays, EKG, and Echo Cardiogram, it was at this point that I knew they were looking for something more. They admit him within three hours of hitting the emergency room.
His kidneys were in shock and severely dehydrated, while his inflammatory markers were off the charts. The EKG and Echo Cardiogram came back clean, and the chest x-ray was clear. He never tested positive for Covid, but MIS-C was of great concern, but his condition continued to worsen. He was stepped up to a 3:1 nursing ratio and placed on cardiac monitors while he received a magnesium infusion, something they call a Migraine Cocktail.
I can tell you that even when I was diagnosed with cancer, I was never as scared as I was that day and night. He couldn’t move; he was agitated and just not himself. His coloring was ashen, and my very private baby lay on a hospital bed with no shirt and no care about who walked into the room. Despite all the IV fluids and antibiotics, his condition was worsening.
Hopkins ultimately decided he had Leptospirosis in addition to Giardia and E.coli EPEC. These things happen when traveling where water is contaminated. One of the residents proudly presented me with a paper from the Centers for Disease Control referencing 34 travelers to Costa Rica who went white water rafting after a flood. Twenty-three of them ended up with Leptospirosis. A hurricane passed through Costa Rica during the first week of the trip, waters were high, and my son fell into the water while rafting. And then they added a third antibiotic, and 24 hours later, he was back; antibiotics are a miracle.
He did try out for soccer and made the team.
This weekend my youngest fell off our kiddie water slide and hurt his elbow. When the adults in the room said, “he’s fine,” and he continued to protest, I took him to the emergency room. He wasn’t okay; the elbow had a probable fracture. While sitting in bed last night I told him to listen to his body. I told him he is an honest person and when your body hurts, it is telling you something. I assured him that if he tells me he is sick or hurt I will believe him. He leaned in and nuzzled me. Teaching our kids to trust their bodies is something of utmost importance. Learn from my mistakes.