Pulling off the freeway, getting ready to turn east across country to make the final leg home, I realized where I was. This was the spot that our youngest first got sick, when he was just 28 months old. We had stopped here, to use the bathroom in a McDonalds, and have a small snack on our trip home. On the was back to the car, our little one threw up. We didn't think much about it, he'd been in the car three hours, he might have been carsick. Besides, little kids throw up occasionally, we'd wait and see how he felt later.
In the next few days he grew listless, he wasn't really running a fever, but he was definitely out of sorts, with a stiff neck and a bluish cast to his lips. After a week of this, we brought him into the clinic. Our regular pediatrican wasn't available (it was a group health plan) and the one we had did the usual checks and said he was "just tired" after a bout with the flu. We went home, and watched and waited. There was still something wrong with our child. We brought him back a few days later, to yet another Doctor, who said the same thing. That weekend, a friend of ours who was a nurse just happened to visit. She took one look at him and said: "Get him to the hospital, he's got meningitis!"
This time, we did see our doctor, who ordered tests.
The test for spinal meningitis involves extracting fluid from the spinal cord cavity and analyzing it for bacteria. In other words, a spinal tap. To have to watch your baby recoil in pain as the procedure is performed is tough. Probably tougher on you, for after a minute, it was over and he seemed to be out of pain soon after. The diagnosis was positive, and a week-long series of iv's were administered. He came out of it alright.
Exit 25. The light is green, and I take the turn. The McDonald's recedes in my rear-view mirror. We're going home.