So she grabbed her guy and took him to the Emergency Room.
Imagine the odds! Her very own pediatrician was walking out of the building just as the Matron and Merrick walked in. The doctor-- a lovely woman (younger and far better looking than the Matron oh curse her) stopped to say hello and then? The doctor stopped and took a long, concentrated look at Merrick.
Doctor: "Did this happen quickly?"
Matron: "Why - -yes. His eye was fine a few hours ago."
So the doctor nodded and snatched that child out of the Matron's arms and turned, heel on a dime, back into the ER. "Follow me."
Oh my! The Matron followed! Her heart? It had resituated itself in her throat - and was pounding.
The doctor blew past all Nurses and Procedures--Merrick firmly in arms-- and said in a loud firm voice: " I need blah- blah-blah, and blah-blah-blah -- and this other mega-thing -- right now. Not in one minute, now."
Now, the Matron can't remember the precise drugs the doctor wanted to immediately administer because she was already numbing into a state of shock as medical personnel dropped what they were doing and descended upon her baby -- who disappeared in a sea of pea green and chemical blue scrubs.
While the flurry flew, the doctor took the Matron aside: "Mary? Complete gut instinct. I think he has periorbital cellulitis, an infection of the optic nerve that can spread to the brain. Again, just instinct and nothing to write home about, but I think the infection has settled in pretty well and is moving quickly enough that we want to bypass all the administrative stuff. We'll pump him full of antibiotics and watch that optic nerve behave in no time.
It did not take the hypochondriacal (but very smart) Matron long to understand that periorbital cellulitis can kill or blind you.
And those antibiotics?
Did not work on Merrick.
Did not work on Merrick.
The Matron's child hung in the balance, in the hospital, for three excruciating days while the doctors waited for that antibiotic to work.
For some reason, that eye continued to bloat and beam. So the breast-feeding Matron lived in the hospital (again -- this was Merrick's second stay and there's another story), sleeping on a cot at her child's side and trying to keep an unhappy, feverish, 8 month old happy for 16 hours a day while worrying about his very survival. The Matron is the kind of mother where those things counter each other: A) why can't you be happy and sleep all day instead of being uncomfortable and needy for 82 hours? and B) if you cease to exist I shall perish.
And she endured this without wine.
Merrick slowly, eventually recovered. When he was in process, the Matron pulled that child and his army of IVs, and poles and medications, around the hospital in a little red wagon. She knew they looked ragged.
One day, a man in the lobby tossed a $5 bill into the wagon.
And Merrick got better.