The Boy and I (aka ‘You’re never too old to learn .. and learn again’)


My boy, in his outfit for the day (interesting choice!)

It’s been an interesting few days, particularly yesterday. I had an unexpectedly positive day that wouldn’t have taken place if things didn’t go to plan – plus a good reminder not to jump too quickly to conclusions. Good reminders in both cases to be a bit more flexible with my times, and not try and sort things out / put issues into boxes too quickly. I thought I’d share these with you!

What on earth is mycoplasma??

On Tuesday, after a few days (and nights) of coughing fits, we decided it was time to work out what was going on with our son. So my husband took him to the doctor. He returned with antibiotics, prednisolone (a cortisone / steriod-y thing) and a ventolin inhaler. Right – so he has a chest infection. As there has been whooping cough doing the rounds at school (despite the kids all being vaccinated), he also took a swab to test if anything else was going on.

That night, on the way back from one of my son’s basketball training sessions, my husband got a call. Good news – it’s not whooping cough. It is, however, mycoplasma. So Mr 9 year old should have a few days off school to recover. This was relayed to me at work as I finish a bit later on a Tuesday.

Wind back a second. Mycoplasma?? What? What’s mycoplasma? My husband doesn’t know. Is it contagious or infectious? (I can never remember the difference). Is it serious? Plasma – to do with blood (even I know that) – that doesn’t sound good, it sounds serious! Could we be inadvertently spreading something SERIOUS to everyone we know? My husband doesn’t know. Frustrating. I expect him to know. I know I have an unreasonable expectation that, because he is a nurse and my husband, he have the answer to every possible medical or health related question I could come up with. That’s not always the case – but I had hoped it would be this time, given how nasty the illness sounds. Of course, the doctor’s surgery is closed, so I can’t ring them. Clearly I have no idea what it is – I can’t even explain what prednisolone is (see above), even though both kids been prescribed it a number of times.

But still – with the help of Dr Google I’m sure I can work it out. While my husband is on the phone, I look up ‘mycoplasma’, only to find a series of items with that name. Mycoplasma – a bacteria without a cell wall so resistant to penicillin (so why are we treating him with antibiotics?), also known as ‘walking pneumonia’ (what?), similar to bovine pleuropneumonia (bovine??? Illnesses with cows associations are all bad, as far as I’m concerned), and can be associated with skin eruptions (oh no – is there more side effects to come?). Maybe I shouldn’t have been so cross with him yesterday even though he was really obnoxious with his spelling – asking to tested and then throwing a tantrum when he couldn’t spell them correctly. Clearly he was terribly sick and I hadn’t fully recognised this. What sort of a mother am I??

And then I saw the next link from the search, from mycoplasma to a much more serious disease, and that pulled me up. I’d gone too far now – I was jumping ahead to worst case scenarios with no basis to do so. With the help of my husband, who reminded me, as I was reading these out loud, that I was on speaker phone, with our son in the car, I realised I needed to stop the google diagnosis. I’d decided, without any basis, that this illness was VERY SERIOUS. I’d jumped to conclusions, got myself worked up. All in under 2 minutes.

Jumping to conclusions

One of our favourite books, which I encourage everyone to read, is The Phantom Tollbooth. It’s about a bored boy named Milo who, when he discovers a toy tollbooth in his room, decides that as he has nothing better to do, drives through through it on his toy car. He is transported to a land called the Kingdom of Wisdom and has many adventures, as well as learning many things about words, thinking, puns, and how to regain curiosity. It’s a great book (as I’ve said – can you tell I really like it?)


The Island of Conclusions, to the right / east

But – it is also relevant for this reason. One of the adventures that Milo has is that he and the friends he makes along the way jump to the Island of Conclusions, a crowded place which looks a lot better from a distance. It’s easy to get to the Island – all you have to do is decide something without having a good reason – but it’s a lot harder to leave (which is why it is so crowded). It requires swimming – immersing yourself in the Sea of Knowledge to fully leave Conclusions behind.

Back to reality

Luckily, I didn’t have to immerse myself in the sea for too long. It took only a few common sense aspects to be pointed out to me. Firstly, Mr 9, who had been at basketball training today for both teams he plays in, as well as school all day, couldn’t be too sick (he is not that much of a martyr – or someone with that much endurance). Secondly, if it was anything serious, the doctor would asked him to come in for more tests or referred him to someone else. Thirdly, my husband wasn’t far from home, and he would look up more details then. Finally, if it seemed so serious that it couldn’t wait until the morning, we could check with friends who are doctors. And I could hear the jabbering talking of my son in the background, who in between coughing, was making up some sort of rap / hip-hop song. Although I couldn’t make sense of it (if there was any sense to be made), the fact that he was feeling positive and happy enough to make up one of his weird songs made me feel relieved. Clearly he couldn’t be feeling too miserable. There are people who are very sick. My son is not one of them, and me dramatising what he does have was not helpful.

So, after collecting my daughter from gymnastics (this is making us seem like a super fit family, isn’t it? So not …) I met them both at home, to find out that in this instance, mycoplasma is Also Known As (AKA)* an upper respiratory infection. So he will be fine. There was no need to jump to conclusions.

Positive benefits

Our son was, however, to take a couple of days off school, in order to rest and also to minimise spreading it to others. This time, I took the day off to look after him. And we had a great time. It was a beautiful day, we got to be outside for a while, we read books, watched DVDs, organised gifts, and just had a chance to talk. And, because we were not rushing to do something else, we had time and there was space for listening to each other, and learning more about what is going on in each other’s worlds.  It was actually a special one on one time together, which I realised doesn’t happen very often.

So my initial panicked reaction was unnecessary – and actually provided us with a bonus day. That is actually a good outcome. Just saying.*

* I’ve been finding myself using ‘aka’, ‘just saying’ and ‘no offence, but..’, three of Mr 9’s favourite and overused, expressions, a lot yesterday. I guess he has an impact!


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