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Mama, see the gorilla?
I recently had my first experience with a delirious child and it was a fearsome event. My three-year-old daughter went to bed loaded with Tylenol and slightly warm. But when the medicine wore off, the fever took hold with a vengeance.
It was around 3 a.m. when she woke crying, so hot that I was afraid to take her temperature. I didn't want to know. I started wiping her with a cool wash cloth and couldn't bring myself to give her more Tylenol since the sight of the bottle would start her crying.
She didn't seem in pain or all that unhappy and was talking to me coherently. I took heart that she must be okay.
Then she said it. "Mama, see the gorilla?"
Calmly, evenly, staring in the middle of her room. Not a stuffed gorilla in sight.
"No honey, I don't see it. You must be dreaming."
"There Mama, see it? See it? Right there."
That's when I took her in to wake up Daddy. She must be dreaming, he told me.
Then she said it to him, "Daddy, the gorilla. There. It's right there." He started to get a freaked too.
That's when I got serious with the Tylenol. We didn't want to rush her to an emergency room in the middle of the night unless absolutely necessary.
Frances kept talking about the gorilla for a while, but eventually cooled and fell asleep. The next morning I took her to her pediatrician, who diagnosed it as a bad summer virus and expressed no concern at the gorilla sighting. "The fever makes them do that," she said simply. By that afternoon she was better.
Here's the funny thing: I told the story to one of my old bosses who I saw a day later. He said he remembered seeing a gorilla in his bedroom when he had a bad fever as a child. He believes that the pounding in his head sounded like the low, repetitive grunt of a gorilla so he hallucinated one to match the sound. Could be.
All I can say is thank God my daughter isn't afraid of gorillas and that the fever went away the next day.