Don’t Panic!

For the last two days, I’ve been tending to my youngest child, who has been quite sick with a pretty severe cold. He had a significant fever yesterday which broke overnight and this morning he seems at least vaguely like his old self.

I first discovered that he was sick when I gave him a big hug in the morning and discovered that he was both lethargic and fairly warm to the touch. I pulled a thermometer out of the cupboard and discovered that he had a mild fever. After that, he curled up on the couch and fell asleep in the early morning, which is a behavior completely out of place for him.

Our children’s pediatrician has recommended a small dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol) for helping our children two and older to cope with the discomfort and lethargy of a fever, so I went to our medicine cabinet to find some.

Alas, there was none on hand.

My thoughts at the time were solely on doing what I could to make him feel better, so I took him on a short trip to the tiny convenience store in our town and purchased some children’s acetaminophen for him. Of course, the price on that acetaminophen was incredibly high, but it did provide him some relief from his fever and some periods of feeling something close to normal.

I spent several dollars extra on children’s acetaminophen because of this situation.

To put it simply, I panicked a bit. I didn’t actually think through this situation very well, nor was I prepared for the situation to happen. Several simple moves could have saved me money on the acetaminophen had I simply not panicked.

My first response should have been to ask the neighbors. I knew that my neighbors across the street were home and they have young children. They would have gladly given me a couple doses of children’s acetaminophen for my son.

I should have also contacted my wife, who could have picked up the medicine at much lower cost on her way home from work. This would not have solved the immediate problem at hand.

I could have also used alternative means to solve the problem. A lukewarm bath is very effective at reducing fever, as is a cool rag applied to the head and key hot points on the body. You can make a person’s fever drop rapidly with these things, but it’s not usually the first response that people think of. I did eventually do both of these things, of course.

The best solution, of course, would have been to plan ahead. I have three young children. I know all about early childhood colds and the like. I know that kids get fever sometimes with their colds and I know how much better they feel when the fever breaks. It seems like common sense that when our last batch of children’s acetaminophen ran out, I would replace it. Not doing that was perhaps my biggest mistake.

This might be a story about my child’s fever, but it’s something that applies to a lot of situations at home and at work. Panic and rash decision-making at the wrong moment can cost you a lot of money, not just a few dollars once on some medicine.

If you find yourself in an unexpected situation that could lead to spending money, stop yourself for a moment and ask yourself if there aren’t other routes available to you. Then, when the moment has passed, if you see this as a potentially recurring situation, prepare for it. Your wallet and sanity will thank you.

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