beth woolsey

mess maker • magic finder • rule breaker • kindness monger

The Penith Zenith: A Medical Marvel

Someone suggested we start using a safety sign at our house — one that shows the number of days, accident-free, since our last incident.  You know, as way to encourage our pneumonia-ridden, surgery-prone, needle-in-the-leg, broken-ankle, infected-penis family to knock it the heck off.

A sign like this one:

Or maybe like this one,

which cracked me up with its… 2,632!… accident-free days.

2,632 days?!  That’s 7.2 YEARS.  Otherwise known as impossible.

No, no.  There will be no 2,632 day goal for us; we like to set the bar low on the off chance we can actually achieve a goal.  That’s us; raising children one low-ball success at a time.

We were almost at a whopping 9 days accident-free.  That’s even more of a success that I hoped and dreamed.  Longer than a week!

And then it happened.

The puffy penith.

The penith of puff.  The penith that in its swelling reached its zenith.

A zenith penith.

Or, in my son’s very own words:

My penith was feeling very hurting.  It got puffier and puffier.  I had a puffy penith.  The doctor thays that there’s a bug bite that went crazy and out of control!  I had to get medithine for my penith.  And that’s my thtory.

Yep.  That’s his story.  The headline for my story should read:  Suspected Bug Bite Leads To Infection Leads To “Can Penises Even DO THAT??”

FYI, they can.

I’m really very sorry if you’re getting tired of health-related posts.  Please rest assured that I’m also tired of writing them.  Nevertheless, there’s something of a train-wreck quality to our lives in the past two weeks that have seen us at:

  • the hospital for needle-in-the-leg surgery
  • the immediate care facility for broken-ankle x-rays
  • the pediatric orthopedist’s office for bone setting and growth-plate ramifications
  • the surgeon’s office for needle-removal follow-up
  • and back to immediate care for private-part inspection

Look, Mom!  It’s a train wreck!

Can’t.  Look.  Away.

Friday night, my 4-year-old’s pain began.

The good news is, there are no needles stuck in my children, none of them have cancer, and we’re still hoping to pull off a family vacation next week.  Really, we’re counting our blessings.

The bad news is, I’m more familiar with our local Immediate Care office than I ever, even with five kids, thought I’d be.  My friend Mindy says I should get a punch card for frequent visitors.  Maybe on my 10th visit, I’ll get a free x-ray.  Heck – I’d even take a freebee box of latex gloves… those things are COOL, and God knows we could use some more germ-barriers around our house.

By the time we saw the doctor – and the doctor reviewed my son’s evidence – he gave us the verdict… my 4 year old got a bug bite on his peeper.

On his boy-part.

On his little friend.

On his pointer.

Oh, sweetie.  Not the peeper!

The bite went unnoticed by the child and by his mother.  I’d say it’s not my greatest parenting moment, except that I think that not keeping a constant watch on my kids’ personal parts actually does, in this case, make me superb.  I mean, I think I can prove unequivocally now that I ain’t payin’ no nevermind to those down-there parts.

Unfortunately, this particular bug bite had certain, surprising results, and my son began to swell.  And then there was pain.  And then more swelling.

The doctor asked if it was possible, his conclusion.  Could a bug have bitten my boy?

This is the kind of thing no one tells you when you become a mom.  No one, oh so casually, mentions that someday you’ll be in a position where a medical professional has to ask whether you allowed your kid’s privates to be lunch for a bug.

Excuse me, ma’am.  Did you let your son flash a bug?  And, if so, can you blame the bug – whose rights were clearly violated – for givin’ the kid a lickin’?

I was a deer in the headlights.  Yes, I thought.  Of COURSE it’s possible!  My boys play nekked in the back yard.  A yard crawling with bugs and apparently with germs and terrible, disfiguring, infectious substances.  Geeeaaaahhhh!

I thought about lying.  I really did.  I thought about saying, “Gee.  I suppose a bug could’ve crawled up his pants.”

But I didn’t.  Because even though I was a fantastically gifted liar as a child (my parents are confirming with a loud “what what” right now), I’m out of practice these days.

So I confessed to the boys’ naked backyard play.  And then I hoped against hope that the kind doctor wouldn’t toss me out of his office on my granola-eating, au-natural living, liberal-commune-loving, lax-parenting keester.

At which point, he mentioned that his daughter plays naked in his backyard, too.


In case you ever wondered, in order to make a swell-tering, bug-bitten penith stop, you have to use a combination of steroids (aka, uppers), benadryl (aka, downers) and antibiotics (aka, can I get these in bulk, please?).  And then, you have to parent a preschooler who’s on uppers and downers.  It’s AWESOME!  And kind of hilarious.

Truth be told (I know – it’s way too late for that kind of a warning), my son is very nonchalant about the entire thing.  Sometimes I fear that our blase, “bring it!” approach to life has rubbed off too thoroughly.  Other times, I’m glad my kids rarely freak, even about things as potentially disturbing as a puffy, temporarily deformed man part.  This is a life skill, ladies and gentlemen.  If my kid can take a puffy penith in stride, imagine how far life can take him!

In the meantime, please remember:

And, if you suck at “safety first” as badly as we apparently do, I suggest putting your doctor, surgeon, orthopedist and immediate care on speed dial.


This post is brought to you with special thanks to the grandparents, cousins, friends, babysitters and neighbors who have been on-call for the past 2 weeks to watch our other children so I can gallivant off to the hospital, doctors’ offices and immediate care.  They’ve had my kids.  They’ve brought pizza.  They’ve pulled late-night and early-morning duty.  They’ve run to the pharmacy.  They’ve rushed to my house.  And, perhaps most importantly for my psyche, they haven’t made it obvious when they leave that they’re desperate to rush away.  Thanks, Village!

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11 responses to “The Penith Zenith: A Medical Marvel”

  1. Oh, thanks for making me laugh so hard! I have a four year old…
    Also, an ant bit me in the nether regions last week and I had NOT even been outside yet that day! We have little sugar ants infesting our house and I have no idea how that one managed to get inside my undies, but let me tell you, I noticed! The ant did not survive the encounter.

    PS. There is some family wedding in the Beaverton-ish area next weekend, will you be there? It would be fun to meet!

  2. “Could a bug have bitten my boy?” Uhm…….obviously. I mean they are four, playing in the backyard naked is a given. Peeing outside, probably also a given. The potential mosquito/spider bite in the middle of the night also a possibility.

    I mean I have never been able to control when or where a bug bites me..”ooh maybe not the eyelid as that causes great swelling and pain, perhaps you could bite me somewhere I am less likely to notice, thank you spider.”

    I am impressed by the lack of worry on your sons part. Hopefully there was also a lack of showing it off to people, if both of those things were accomplished “Hooray”

  3. Thanks for the comments, ladies! And especially the camaraderie and giggles.

    Excellent work on making up your own words, Cathie; you know I’m a fan.

    Sara, get my bed ready! Drugs, all the paperback books I can read and a fun roommate; the pysch ward has never looked so good. (Do you think they’ll let us both in??)

    Lacie, I peed a little. Don’t tell. Hehehe.

  4. Oh, thanks for the laugh! I am sharing your woes and am glad to know I am not alone. This summertime chaos, complete with all its medical bills , had better slow down as school gets going. Otherwise, I am headed straight for the looney bin! You can come be my room-mate 🙂

  5. Any comment that may or may not be running through my head is better left there. Except, I second the fact that you NOT noticing his puffiness is not a bad thing. And that’s all.
    Hope all of you stay safe and no one’s penith gets un-wantedly (yeah, I made that up) puffy.

  6. Oh dear! I’m afraid we may have introduced inhibitions today. We told the boys (while fine dining at McDonald’s) that we’d rather not talk about penithes while we were eating lunch. (Of course, the topic was introduced along with the dose of medicine. Was that the upper or the downer?) It was hard to answer the follow-up “Why?”

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