It was around lunch time when Jacob stirred awake, and boy was he hot. His entire upper body was sweaty. He quickly stripped his sweat-soaked shirt off, leaving him dressed only in a pair of shorts and his diaper. As he adjusted to being awake again, he realized he was trapped in the playpen, and he only felt sicker than he did that morning.
His eyes burned and his head pounded. He was beginning to feel a growing itch in his throat that he knew would only get worse. To add insult to injury, he was sure he needed a diaper change. Slowly, he stood up and peered over the playpen bars.
He could see Angelique in the kitchen standing in front of the stove and stirring a larger pot. He tried calling out for help, but his voice simply wouldn't cooperate. His shouts sounded more like hushed whispers. Frustrated, he plopped back down into the playpen and leaned into a corner.
He wiped his hand across his forehead, feeling the beads of sweat dotting his face. He had to tilt his head backwards as the snot from his runny nose threatened to descend onto places it didn't belong. But that only made the itch in his throat worse, and soon he launched into a coughing fit.
Angelique heard the little boy's coughing and quickly turned off the stove, giving the soup one last stir. "Jacob. Are you okay, sweetie?" she asked, as she walked closer to the playpen.
The sick child just kept coughing, unable to respond. She reached in and rubbed soothing circles onto his back, helping him get through his coughing fit, and when he was done, she pulled him out of the playpen, resting a hand on his forehead.
"You're burning up," she said, her voice laced with concern.
"I feel awful," he replied, his voice so hoarse it almost sounded like a whisper.
"Simon should be home any minute now with the medicine," she explained, patting his back. "The box that we had at home was expired."
"Ugh," Jacob groaned, sniffling and rubbing at his eyes.
"Do you want to have some soup while we wait?" she offered, walking toward the kitchen and grabbing a paper towel to wipe up the boy's face.
"Yes," he whispered, looking forward to anything that might help his sore throat.
"Excellent," she replied, seating him in the highchair. A minute later, she returned with a small plastic bowl filled with soup and a colorful plastic spoon.
Not bothering to wait for her instruction, he opened his mouth. He was immediately rewarded with some warm broth that was easy to swallow, and it really did reduce the soreness of his throat. His nostrils were less stuffy, and his sinuses cleared while he was being fed the soup. Moments later, the small bowl of soup was finished, but Simon still hadn't returned home.
"How about we get you a nice cool bath," Angelique suggested, internally worried about the boy's temperature. But Jacob would have been none the wiser as she kept a reassuring smile on her face.
Jacob nodded his head in agreement. He was hot, sticky and sweaty, and the promise of a cool bath was enough to have him lifting his arms and waiting to be carried to the bathroom.
Angelique carried him upstairs to the bathroom near the nursery. Quickly, she stripped him, removing his soiled diaper and tossing aside his pair of shorts. She turned on the faucet in the tub, and they both watched as the cool water cascaded across the basin. Once the water was at a high level, she turned off the water and held Jacob by the underarms.
"Jacob, it's going to be really cold, but it will really help your temperature," she warned him. But he didn't get a chance to take in what she said before he was placed into the cold water. Immediately, he recoiled. The water felt like ice against his skin. He was prepared for cold but not frigid.
"It's too cold," he objected, splashing around in an attempt to flee from the water.
Angelique simply blocked his exit, holding him in the bathwater. She waited a couple minutes until he slightly adjusted to the temperature, no longer actively trying to escape. Grabbing a washcloth, she dipped it in the water and lathered some soap onto it. Carefully, she washed the little boy's body.
Jacob shivered. He wanted nothing more than to be outside of the freezing water, but he was at the mercy of his caregiver's discretion. He briefly thought about crying. He knew that would probably get her to let him out of the tub, but he thought about the snotty mess he'd be if he did it. No matter how bad things got, he wouldn't willingly make himself a snot-nosed brat.
After washing away the dried sweat, Angelique decided to take pity on the feverish boy. She grabbed his towel and lifted him out of the tub. While she was drying him, she heard his teeth chatter, and the sound melted her heart. It always felt terrible to be responsible for causing the discomfort in a child, but she knew it needed to be done.
Just as she finished drying him, she heard Simon making his way upstairs.
"Angelique?" he called.
"We're in the bathroom," she shouted, wrapping Jacob in a towel.
Simon entered the bathroom, holding the plastic bag filled with the items on the list.
"Did you get everything?" Angelique asked, eyeing the bag.
"Yes," he replied, handing her the bag. "It took me a while to find the last item. I had to go to a different store, but I was able to get it there."
Angelique rummaged through the bag until she found the box of children's cold medication. She tore open the box and unwrapped the enclosed syringe. Checking the back of the box, she took note of the dosage for a two-year-old and filled the syringe with the red liquid.
"Okay, Jacob. Open up," she said, holding the syringe to his lips.
The boy hesitantly opened his mouth, not completely trusting of taking any medication from the people who had forcibly regressed him. But the promise of relief from his sickness was enough of a silver lining for him to at least try.
A try it was; because as soon as the medication touched his tongue, he opened his mouth to let it fall out. The boy couldn't believe how terrible the medicine tasted to his regressed palette. It was worse than any medication he could recall every having taken in his entire life.
"Jacob!" Angelique admonished, wiping up the red liquid with his towel. "You have a fever, and you need to take some medicine for it."
"It's so gross!" Jacob complained, spitting the rest of the medicine out of his mouth.
"It's either this or a suppository," Angelique said sternly, offering no room for argument.
Jacob looked between his caregivers at the door. He might have had a chance to make a run for it if Simon wasn't in the small bathroom as well. He was stuck, and even though he really didn't want to take the medication, he didn't want to be violated with a suppository either.
"Try holding your nose, Jacob," Simon suggested. "You won't taste it that way."
Angelique filled the syringe with Jacob's correct dosage one more time. "Let's try this again. Open up," she instructed the boy.
Jacob decided to give Simon's suggestion a shot, seeing as he didn't have a choice in the matter. He held his nose while Angelique squirted the contents of the syringe into his mouth. It burned when it touched his tongue, but this time he did his best to quickly swallow all of it.
"Good job," Angelique praised him, wiping the red dye from his lips with the towel.
"I'll take Jacob to get him dressed and tucked in," Angelique explained, lifting the toweled boy into her arms. "Simon, I left the soup out for you if you want to get some lunch."
"Have you eaten already?" Simon asked.
"No, I haven't yet," she answered, realizing that she'd got so caught up in taking care of Jacob that she had forgotten to eat.
"I'll wait in the kitchen until you're finished with Jacob," he said, taking the rest of the items he bought out of the bathroom.
"Okay, I'll be down shortly," she shouted.
Turning the corner into the nursery, she laid Jacob down on the changing table. The boy was beginning to feel drowsy, tired from the freezing cold bath and fatigued from the extra work his body was putting in to fight the infection. He yawned, rubbing at his eyes and scratching his tummy.
"It's good that you're sleepy again," Angelique said, lifting his legs and sliding the new diaper under his bottom. "Your body is using up a bunch of energy trying to fight off those nasty germies. Isn't it?"
Jacob nodded his head silently. He was getting more and more drowsy, but he wanted to have his Batman toy before he went to sleep. While Angelique dressed him in a thin onesie and a pair of socks, he looked around the room, searching for his misplaced toy.
"Today, sleeping is encouraged. You get to sleep all day," she enthused in a babyish voice while she laid Jacob down in the crib.
"Wait!" he cried, holding his arms out towards her. "Batman."
"Oh, I know where Batman is," she said, turning and walking towards the toy shelf. "Here he is."
She handed the little boy his plush toy and watched as he cuddled with it in the crib. Angelique marveled at how well his regression was going. Just one week ago he was kicking and screaming when it was nap time. Now he went to bed like a well-adjusted toddler.
Smiling at the sight of the adorable toddler in front of her, she turned on the overhead mobile and gave Jacob a kiss on the forehead. "Have a good nap," she said, closing the door behind her.
After having lunch together and discussing their plans in case Jacob got worse, the therapist couple spent the afternoon watching movies together. They stumbled across an exciting documentary about the time when dinosaurs went extinct.
Before long, it was dinner time, and the couple had dinner together, deciding not to wake Jacob too early. When they were finished eating, Angelique warmed a bottle for Jacob, mixing in his dose of medicine into it. She wanted to avoid another power struggle over the medicine and make it easier on the tyke.
With the ear thermometer and the bottle in hand, she went upstairs. Angelique flipped on the lights in the nursery. From the corner of her eye, she saw Jacob stir a little bit in his sleep, but he didn't wake up. She reached inside the crib and felt his clammy forehead. It was warm to the touch once again, prompting her to get a reading of his temperature once again.
Lifting Jacob out of the crib, she took a seat on the sofa and rested him on her lap, supporting his head with the crook of her arm. She gently inserted the earpiece into the little boy's ear and waited.
Almost immediately, Jacob twitched awake. With his eyes still closed, he kicked out his legs and whined until he started coughing. It was a loud, hacking, wet cough which left him gasping for breath and sniffling.
Having successfully gotten his temperature, Angelique watched the child go through the motions of his coughing fit and pat him on the back. But her soothing circles weren't enough to prevent the hot tears from running down the feverish child's face. The two-year old sobbed loudly as the tears flew down his face looking as miserable as one could imagine he felt.
Angelique soothed the crying child, standing up to bounce and rock him in her arms. "Shh, it's okay," she cooed softly to him.
She moved over to the rocking chair, leaving the ear thermometer and grabbing the bottle. She rocked him for a few minutes until he was calm enough to drink the bottle. In his highly regressed state, he readily accepted being bottle-fed. He quietly drank the bottle in his caregiver's arms, innocently peering up at her.
Angelique smiled down at the toddler, slowing rocking the chair, and as the bottle neared completion, the boy's eyes began to droop. His caregiver had to tap him a few times to get him alert enough to finish the bottle. When she pulled the nipple out of his mouth, he unconsciously popped his thumb in its place, already beginning to doze off.
After another quick diaper change, Angelique put Jacob back in his crib to sleep off the rest of his sickness, hoping that the dose of medicine in the bottle would help him through the rest of the night.