Earlier this week I knew something was wrong as soon as my son asked to lie down for just a minute before he left for baseball practice.
Lie down? These words never come out of the mouth of my contantly-moving 7-year-old. An hour before we had played a rowdy game of HORSE on his behind-the-bedroom-door Nerf basketball hoop. He had just chased his sister around the living room 20 minutes before.
Now that it was time to leave for baseball practice – one of the highlights of his week – he wanted to lie down?
As he headed to the couch, I headed to get our thermometer. After a minute, we found out baseball practice was cancelled for him – he had a fever of 101 and a splitting headache.
My plans for the night had changed, too, since I now switched over to Nurse Mommy mode. (Note: I have no medical training. But when my kiddos get sick, I instantly switch over to ultra caregiver mode, like every mom.)
I helped my sick little boy peel off his layers of baseball clothes and carried him to his room. After he sipped some ice water, he wanted to cuddle up and sleep. I massaged a little bit of lavender essential oil and coconut oil onto his chest, back, neck and forehead, put a cool, damp washcloth on his forehead, and he fell asleep.
He slept … and slept … and slept. When he finally woke up again, his temperature was up to 104, and I tried a slightly different natural approach. Filling a bowl with lukewarm tap water and lavender essential oil, I began to lightly sponge his feverish body.
He whimpered, but after dabbing his legs, arms, trunk, neck and face, I gave him more ice water to sip, then rubbed a little peppermint essential oil mixed with coconut oil on the soles of his feet.
Waiting and wondering
Before he fell back asleep, my son was complaining about another headache – and that the light hurt his eyes. Those complaints set off more of my Mommy Alerts, and as I Googled high fever and headache, I read about the symptoms of meningitis. Since he had three of the five symptoms, I was concerned and mentally preparing myself for a trip to the emergency room.
Maybe it was meningitis. Maybe it was the flu. Maybe it was just a fever. We could only wait to find out.
I’m never at ease when either one of my children are sick. Always feeling tense, I wish I could fix things right away. Every time my children have a fever – and my son especially seems prone to them – I have flashbacks to my cousin Nick, who was diagnosed with leukemia after battling a fever for days.
I’m fully aware that fevers can signify something serious. Yet over the past couple of years I’ve come to understand that fevers can be a good thing. They naturally help a body’s immune response. As I remind my sick children, “Your fever’s letting us know that your body is fighting off germs right now.”
For years I had religiously used over-the-counter medicines to treat minor ailments, so letting a fever go – and NOT using a medicinal fever reducer – requires a lot of courage on my part. Natural approaches to medicine still make me nervous when I’m in the middle of fighting a sickness. And when I naturally treat fevers, I second-guess myself. Without fail, I’m left with questions and doubts:
Should I get a fever reducer? How high of a fever is too high? Can the lavender and peppermint actually help?
In case he needed me during the night, I decided to sleep on my son’s bedroom floor. But before I got all tucked in, I applied more peppermint essential oil and coconut oil to his feet, more cool, lavender compresses to his forehead, and gave him more ice water to drink.
I asked him to stretch and bend, then asked if his neck was sore. When he said no – and that his headache was gone – I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that meningitis was highly unlikely.
I also took his temperature again and it was down to 100 degrees. Finally … improvement!
And after an uneventful night of sleep – granted, a little uncomfortable for me – he woke up without any fever at all.
Needing help with a natural approach
I do like a natural approach to medicine. I’d rather our bodies heal themselves when at all possible. Yet even though I prefer natural methods, sickness still unnerves me. I rarely use essential oils – until there’s sickness – and even then I use them with caution, because of their potency.
In the middle of my natural treatments, I always know that over-the-counter drugs and trips to the emergency room are still a possibility.
Because I’m fairly new to natural remedies, I look for help and advice. I need it! When the lavender oil didn’t immediately take my son’s fever away (Why would it? His body was still fighting the infection!) I scoured online natural living groups for suggestions.
Other moms who have helped relieve fevers without over-the-counter medications share their concerns and methods of treatment. After searching for reasonable treatments — and attempting them — I’ve become more comfortable in natural methods. Sure, I know my doctor is just a phone call away, but I’ve embraced a more natural approach to sickness.
What is your approach to fevers? How do you naturally treat fevers?
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