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Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Identifying real vs fake illness in teenagers

Sometimes we have bouts of fake illness in my home. I know, hard to believe, isn't it? Fake illness usually occurs when someone has a test they might be unwilling to take, but more likely when there is just so much homework that it can't all be done. That sounds pretty fake too, but the Girl gets at least 5 hours of homework every single night. It is infuriating, but that's another post for another time.

Today the Girl stayed after school for a couple of hours working on a group project with two other kids. It was yet another half day (I have made my thoughts well known on how much I hate half-days, right?), so after working on the project she went over to a friend's house, where she was taken out to a late lunch, and then deposited home around 4:30. When she got home she looked a bit pale and was grouchy, but grouchy isn't unusual so I don't consider that a pointer to illness.

She went upstairs obstensibly to get something and disappeared for a couple of hours. She had fallen asleep, also a daily occurance so not an illness indicator, per se. When I called her down to set the table, she was whinging about a stomach ache. Another non-indicator. This girl has more stomach aches than a colicky horse. She never did set the table, so her brother did it in her place. She sat down to eat, but didn't have much. Still no real indicator of illness. She's a notoriously picky eater and sometimes eats virtually nothing. Plus she had eaten a late lunch of pizza.

After dinner I asked her to please put the leftovers into a container and then into the fridge. She did so without much complaining about it not being her job, which was an indicator of something amiss. Never do we do anything that isn't specifically our jobs without complaining.

However, then the major indicator occurred. She opened the fridge and it evidentally closed on her hand. Remember, lots of rubber tubing round the fridge door, so not possibility of being hurt. But she completely and totally lost it. She burst into tears, dropped down on the the floor and sobbed and sobbed. Even the Boy looked alarmed. This was definately not normal. Not even close to her regular annoying bitching and moaning about manufactured illness. Nope, this was the real thing.

After I got her up off the floor, I felt her forehead. Clammy but not hot. But she wasn't right. Her skin was greenish. She kept saying she was going to throw up. Her stomach was aching. She was shaking like a leaf. So I pronounced no school tomorrow, and she started crying anew. She had too much homework. She had already written, but needed to type up her history paper. She had pages and pages of English vocab work to do. Plus reading in both subjects. She had two math assignments that she hadn't yet started, and then there was science stuff to do. She cried so hard, so I let her do some of her homework and she actually got everything done but the math. She's so afraid of falling behind that she would rather go to school sick than stay home. That's really scary.

Turns out her friend that she was visiting today had been sick all of last week with some deadly virus. The girl started sneezing and snorting later on in the evening. I was so fricking bummed, because I just got my flu shot, meaning I'm susceptible to illness right now. I will be completely out of luck if I get sick now. Getting sick for me is not a small deal. It can be life threatening.

I'm so not happy. But my baby girl is really sick and so we'll all do what we can to be nice to her. Even the Boy was nice this evening and left her alone all night. Only one poke the whole evening. That must have been really hard on him. No... he turned it all on me instead. Cause that's the kinda kid he is. Snort.

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