Sunday, February 14, 2010

Home is where the torment is

“It’s time to torture the baby again,” my wife Kara said last weekend.

“Already? It seems like we just tortured him,” I replied.

For the past few days, we’ve had to give our son Evan nebulizer treatments every four hours, a painless procedure that requires him to breathe in a near-odorless mist for fifteen minutes while he screams with his amplifier turned to eleven. The screaming part might be optional, but for us, Evan has always been willing to go the extra decibel.

The excitement began last Thursday, when we received this phone call from his daycare: “You need to come pick up Evan. He’s having trouble breathing.”

There’s nothing like that sort of call to transform what had seemed like monumentally important work into inconsequential pixels on an irrelevant computer screen.

I recently heard a comedian comment that once you become an adult, unless you’re a professional athlete, you never have to run as fast as you can anymore. That sounded pretty true until last Thursday. I didn’t break any world records on my way across the parking lot, but I’m pretty sure I set a personal best, which would have been more of an achievement if the competition hadn’t been so out of shape.

Outside of Kara’s building, I rolled down the passenger window and she dove in like Bo Duke. She almost dove in like Daisy Duke, but her pants were covering her butt.

Seconds later, when we got to Evan’s daycare with Kara’s legs still kicking out the window, it turned out that his trouble breathing was of the slightly raspy kind, not the choking on a pork rind kind. We took a collective deep breath, and as the adrenaline surge began to subside, my mom’s head floated in the air above us, saying, “This is what I always meant by, ‘Just wait until you have one of your own.’” Or that could have just been the peyote wearing off.

At the medical center an hour later, when the doctor first said the word “nebulizer”, I thought he was telling us about his favorite weapon from a Ratchet and Clank video game.

“I prefer the alpha cannon, though an upgraded plasma whip is tough to beat for close combat,” I replied, in my mind.

“You need to give him this treatment every four hours,” the doctor said, holding the mask over Evan’s nose and mouth while Evan screamed, mist shooting out the holes on the sides of the mask like he was an angry cartoon bull.

Back in the day, when babies got colds, you gave them some Dimetapp and moved on with life. Now, babies can rent cars before they can take cold medicine. We’re also more civilized now, which is why we prefer to put our babies in half nelsons and gas their colds into submission.

Kara and I are discovering that being a parent means that you have to torture your child at times, from sucking things out of his nose with a bulb syringe to cooing at him while the nurse pricks him for a blood sample. Parenthood is not all baby powder and laughs, like the brochures promised.

Once we got home and I administered his first treatment, Kara said, “Oh, you did a really good job with that. You’re way better at it than I’d be,” using the same mind trick that I’d tried on her with ironing.

As much as the treatment has at times seemed worse than the symptoms, Evan has finally started to get used to being nebulized, and it’s helping to clear him up. Still, it’s hard not to feel like I should be walking around the house shirtless, wearing a leather apron and a dark hood. At least he’ll get to torture me back when he's a teenager.

You can nebulize Mike Todd with your alpha cannon at


  1. The Vallimonts have gone through the exact treatments with their son... it can be frustrating at first but their little guy got so used to it that he actually held the mask to his face on his own.

  2. So I had this dramatic comment in here... but it either got erased (by Mike??) or it never submitted. In either case, now I'm disappointed.