(Updated to reflect the results of Trial #3)
I got my first ear infection when I was about three weeks old. To hear my mother tell it, I was a demon baby to begin with, and this did not help. (Aside: my mother rates babies on a difficulty scale from 1 to 10, 1 being a delightful child such as my sister (the second-born) who slept 23 hours a day and was apparently made of sunshine and rainbows, 10 being me, the first-born, who was made of pure rage. Maybe Mom just needed a little more practice, hmm? Hmm?) Shortly after the first came the second ear infection, then a whole childhood of ear infections (also experienced by my oh-so-perfect siblings, I hasten to add), and ear tubes and drama. In fact, I’m still not out of the woods; I lost a good percentage of the hearing in my left ear only a few years ago thanks to an ear infection. Long story short, ear infections stink, and I feel very sorry for anyone who has one.
My own kids have been pretty lucky on this front. Stylish has maybe had a couple, and Indy, although a champion puker (we all have our gifts), has been left unscathed.
To borrow from Jane Austen, it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a child will only become ill on a Friday evening after all doctors and pharmacies are closed. This is properly done on a holiday weekend, obviously, but we can’t always make events suit us, can we? But Indy did her best, and, at bedtime on Friday, complained her ear hurt.
Well. We had a few hours of fitful sleep, then, at 11pm, things really got into full swing. Erik found an open-until-midnight pharmacy (on the other side of town, naturally), called a cab, and went in search of ear drops.
The ear drops did nothing.
Once again, Mom and Indy shared a bed, waking every twenty minutes. And so it went on for the weekend. Indy would improve and we would think the whole thing was over, then she would fall apart again.
On Monday I spoke with our local pharmacist. She agreed that antibiotics were likely going to be the thing, and gave me some numbers for doctors nearby. I went home, called around, and found that no one was accepting new patients. Rank on the Surprise-meter: 0. Please. I’m Canadian. The first rule of socialized medicine is: never give up your doctor. So, I turned the page in my Social Medicine Handbook and moved on to rule #2: work your network.
Which I did without guilt. Tuesday morning, Erik hustled into a cab and headed to the airport in the wee hours of the morning, muttering something about getting to work for a rest. We dropped Stylish at school, and we picked up a shiny new set of penicillin pills for young Indy.
“Hooray,” I thought. “Finally we will kick this thing.”
What I had forgotten was that penicillin tastes, as Indy put it, like “bones and wood”. I would have said plaster dust and iron filings, but chacun son gout. And I believe I have already mentioned Indy’s hair-trigger on the upchuck front.
This was not going to be pretty.
Trial #1: Peanut butter
My mom used this trick on us when we were kids and we needed to take Gravol or some other horrendous thing. As I recall, it worked, but barely. It was more successful when feeding pills to our cats, but maybe they just didn’t complain as much.
She spat it out twice, and it kept putting it back. But she got it down, albeit with a lot of tears and yelling.
Verdict: I was right. It worked, but barely.
Trial #2: Nutella
Sweet banana from Montana. I haven’t had to clean up that much chocolate mess since the girls were babies. I’m still finding spots on high cupboards.
Verdict: Never. Again.
I have it on good authority (read: my friend the internet) that applesauce hides penicillin pretty well. We’ll find out this evening. And any other ideas you have, just send them my way. I’ll be the one washing Nutella out of her hair.
Trial #3: Applesauce
A-pple-sauce! A-pple-sauce! (insert confetti and marching bands here.)
I won’t lie to you, people. I wasn’t holding out a lot of hope for this one. After the Nutella incident, I was once bitten, twice shy, as it were. But what were my options? Indy needs the medication and I have to get it into her somehow.
We picked Stylish up from school, and trundled off to the grocery store. I was carrying Indy on my back, since she was far too pathetic to be self-ambulatory. Listening to her stream of grumbles and complaints, feeling her get heavier and heavier, we walked the aisles.
Ah, but I had a cunning plan. Indy can’t read very well yet, and she was barely paying attention anyway, so I very calmly worked my way down the baby aisle. Stylish opened her mouth to say something, and I gave her a quelling look. We slowed almost imperceptibly when we reached the baby food, I snatched a likely-looking candidate, and we proceeded to the cash, Indy none the wiser.
Then, the big test. Indy and I settled down on the kitchen floor, prepared to do battle. I put the tablet on a spoon, squirted some applesauce on top, and held it out. Indy whined. I wheedled. A battle of wills ensued. Eventually, she accepted the inevitable and opened her mouth. And I accepted the inevitable and prepared to do more laundry.
We blinked at each other. What the…? That pill went down like feed into a foie gras goose. Indy recovered first. She wiped her tears and made me swear that we would always, every time use applesauce, forever. I nodded solemnly, and we shook on it.
Last night, Indy slept from midnight until seven, uninterrupted. And this morning, the next pill went down as easily as the last one. Dare I hope we are making progress?
Verdict: Best method ever!
(Amy’s handy tip: do not crush the pill first – aside from losing some medicine, you’ll just taste it that way. Surface area is not your friend.)