Danielle’s cackles faded in the distance as I rounded the corner of the hallway to see ten campers sitting on the floor outside my office. I took a deep breath.
“Hey guys! Let’s get our campers with scheduled medications taken care of first, OK?” I said.
I tended to Lawrence and Allan. They dutifully took their medications.
“Everything going OK?” I asked Lawrence casually as he sniffed his medication.
“Perfect.” He answered as he gave me back his DDAVP nasal spray. I gave him a thumbs up and put it back into the cupboard.
I poked my head out the door and on a sneaking suspicion I asked, “Do we have some headaches?” Four hands popped up. “OK. Let’s see you one at time then, guys.”
I repeated my routine from earlier in the evening. I was trying to rule out anything viral or bacterial, and thankfully none of them had anything to suggest that. Probably tension headaches from the yelling after dinner. I gave them the schpeel about coming back if things persisted or worsened. Two of them wanted to try acetaminophen. I jotted down names, assessment and treatment.
As the last one left the office, I poked my head out again and asked, “Any sore throats out here?” Two campers hopped up. Routine repeated again. Both ruled out. Both accepted acetaminophen. Off they went. Again I made some quick notes.
I stepped out of the office and gazed down at the remaining two campers. I remembered these guys from the first day of camp. It was Kurt and Thomas. The brothers. Kurt had a protective arm around Thomas’ shoulder, head bent toward him. I looked over to Rob, the counselor, who appeared to be asleep on the couch with an arm draped over his eyes.
“Ahhh! It’s my friends Kurt and Thomas?! Long time no see! What’s up bros?” I said reaching down to give each of them a high five. Kurt responded energetically but Thomas seemed lethargic.
“Thomas says he’s hurting, so Kurt and I brought him up to see you.” Rob said from the couch without opening his eyes or moving a muscle.
“OK guys. Come on in.” I said as I waved them into the office. The brothers got up from the floor, walked in ahead of me and sat on the plastic chairs. “So where do you hurt, Thomas?” I asked as I looked at him. His head was bent forward, his shoulders slumped.
Thomas’ little head slowly came up. His face was scrunched. I held my breath momentarily. He raised his right hand and gently tapped his chest over his heart. Tears started to spill from his eyes.
“Tell her Thomas.” Kurt whispered to him.
“My heart hurts, Nurse Anne.” Thomas whispered.
“Your heart, Thomas?” Lordy! What did that mean?!
“Ya, Nurse Anne. It’s been aching since Mum, Dad, and Spike left at the end of Visitor’s Day.” Kurt offered helpfully.
“Ohhhhh! I see.” I said nodding my understanding. “Do you miss them, little buddy?” I said as I pulled my desk chair over and sat in front of the boys.
“Yes!” Thomas whispered and then buried his face in his hands. I leaned back and grabbed the box of tissues, pulled a couple out and offered them to him.
“Sounds like you are home-sick, eh?” Thomas nodded, took the tissues, quietly blew his nose and dabbed at his eyes.
“It hurts really bad.” Thomas whispered as Kurt gently rubbed his back.
“I know.” I said as I offered him a sad smile. I looked at him with his head bowed down. I really wanted to gather him up in a warm hug, but resisted. I looked at his t-shirt. It had cartoonish bugs depicted on it. It gave me an idea.
“I see that you have a butterfly on your shirt there, Thomas.”
“It’s a moth.”
“Oh, ya, a moth. Do you know a lot about moths?” Both Kurt and Thomas nodded.
“Sweet. So what is it that the moth comes out of? What do you call that thing?”
“A cocoon?” Thomas whispered.
“Ya! Ya! That’s it.” I said as I snapped my fingers and pointed at him. “A cocoon. Have you ever seen a moth emerge from a cocoon?”
“Yes. We had caterpillars in our classroom and we saw the whole life cycle of a Luna moth.” Thomas told me as his head came up.
“That’s so cool!” I said. “So you got to see it wiggle and struggle to get out of the cocoon?” I said as I squirmed in my chair.
“Yes.” Thomas answered as he watched me, curious.
Kurt piped up. “It takes forever and it looks really hard.”
“It IS really hard. That moth has to squeeze out of that little space that it has outgrown. But it has to keep going if it wants to change into a moth, right?”
“Yes.” Thomas said as he looked up at me and wiped his eyes again.
“You are like that Luna moth, mister!” I said as I pointed to the moth on his shirt.
“Whaaat?” Kurt looked at me and then at Thomas. Kurt grinned at Thomas. Thomas shyly smiled back.
“I’m a moth?” Thomas said as his smiled widened.
“Yup. The caterpillar has to struggle to change into that super cool Luna moth, right? Just like you have to struggle to make it through the rest of the week at camp.”
“But he won’t become a moooooth!” Kurt chided me. Thomas giggled.
“No. But Thomas will have changed too, just like the moth. It won’t be a change that you can see though. It’s not like Thomas will grow wings or anything!” The two boys giggled. “But Thomas will know that he has the strength it takes to make it through. Just like the caterpillar that becomes a moth. See?!” I said as I held my arms out wide.
The two boys looked at each other and shook their heads, completely confused. Then they dissolved into giggles.
“And theeeeen….after just six more sleeps, you get to go home to your Mum and Dad and your dog, Spike.” I said matter-of-factly.
“Spike is a hedgehog!!!” The boys shrieked in unison.
“Oh. Whatever…” I shrugged while they guffawed.