Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sicky sick bug resolved

Motherhood is filled with challenges, that is nothing we have not heard before right? There will always be endless challenges for us to overcome. Some will be minor and others will take every last bit of strength, patience, and courage to face. My most recent challenge was my very ill child. Thankfully this was relatively minor but it could have manifested into something more. The good news is that I have learned an important lesson in human health care, mostly child health care. What I have learned is that when you have a child that has a fever between 101-102F for a few days and appears to have a cold then begins to get better only to have the fever return with a horrible cough then you should be concerned. When that fever comes back and your child is ill again call the doctor. Why? Because that is often how pneumonia* sets into the body. It enters your body via some sort of cold or flu and has to work its way into the lungs. My Olivia began her encounter with pneumonia with a cold. She had symptoms not unlike a cold which is how I went about treating her. Plenty of fluids, meds to keep the fever down, lots of sleep/rest and mild foods. She began to feel better the fever lifted and I thought she was recovering. Then when she was so tired after playing a game of soccer I figured it had to do with Halloween the night before and her not getting enough sleep. It was that junky cough that made me think something was still lingering. Perhaps just a chest cold I kept thinking. When none of the cough meds seemed to help her through the night I knew it was time for a visit to the doctor.

The hardest part about health care is the actual getting in to see your doctor. With the Holiday coming up I should have known the office would be busy. Yet my confidence in getting an appointment was shaken when I was told "no appointments today, all booked up". Never had I been told that. I was lost. What could I do? She was ill and needed help and I couldn't turn to the people I needed to make her better. I was baffled. What do you do? My mind was running through the possibilities, must get her in, where to go..... I continued to call, finally figuring out what I needed to say to make it clear to them that she had to be seen that day and couldn't wait until Monday. After much pleading I was granted an appointment. I was so glad. In the office we waited and I began to wonder what would be the outcome? Is it just a cold? Perhaps an ear infection? Some kind of sore throat?

We settled in the exam room with the nurse taking Olivia's vitals. (This nurse is a saint. She was the one that had to give my crazed child a shot and endure the wicked withering and screaming. I see this nurse and want to give her massive gifts knowing that she must encounter crazed kids everyday.) Olivia had normal vitals with only an elevated body temperature. When the doctor came in I began to get nervous. I am always nervous when I can't figure out what's making my child ill, trying to describe the symptoms can be difficult. The doctor looked at me with a slight skepticism. Olivia was not looking as ill as she had been and was so very cheerful I think the doctor might have thought me to be some silly over concerned Momma. If not for my notes I might have not been able to give the best description of this illness. It was my notes that helped the doctor sort through the possibilities. I had dates and symptoms scribbled on my paper. (Okay people get over it, I am that organized, it's a personality trait.) I made my notes only because after Olivia became sick again I was suspicious of this cold being something else. I was trying to make my own diagnosis and needed a way to follow the course of this illness. Having the notes kept me together and made answering the doctor's questions so much easier.

After looking in her ears the doctor noted Olivia had a minor ear infection. Her nasal passages were slightly inflamed leading the doctor to believe that Olivia had been exposed to some sort of allergen. When I said that I was unaware of any seasonal allergies for her it was agreed that possibly she has an allergy to something which may have added to her sickness. The doctor listened to her chest for a long time. Olivia had difficulty blowing and I could tell something was not right. Then it was clear to me. This was not a cold. The doctor said it: Pneumonia Olivia has pneumonia. Before we were given treatment medication Olivia was tested for strep throat. She was negative. That was good news. I was a little worried thinking that if she had that too, well, so would most of the neighborhood.

We were given antibiotics to treat the pneumonia as well as an inhaler to use for opening up her chest before bedtime. She has a steam vaporizer in her room and is on a cough suppressant for nighttime (no cough suppressant during day she must get that icky stuff out of her lungs). That night was the first night in over a week where she was able to sleep more than 3 hours straight. She slept about 6 hours before I heard her cough. What a relief. Now that it has been 4 days of the medication she is almost back to normal. We still must keep an eye on her and remind her not to play too hard. She is still very much in a recovery stage and has to be well rested and hydrated. I expect to keep a watchful eye on her monitoring her daily. Pneumonia is something that can hit again and the way I see it, it better just stay away. We have a follow up appointment in two weeks. My hope is that her lungs have cleared and we will have seen the last of that pneumonia.





*Pneumonia can begin making you feel the same as you would with the flu giving same symptoms such as: headache, fever, fatigue, dry cough, muscle pain. Therein lies the danger of this illness. Not going to the doctor allows for the infection to set in making you become sick quickly. Pneumonia is life threatening if untreated can make you seriously ill.

4 comments :

Sydney said...

I had walking pneumonia in the second grade. I didn't feel sick at all because it was the beginning of December and we were doing all sorts of fun holiday stuff leading up to the break, so I was very distracted. But playing at recess I hurt my shoulder and wanted to see the nurse. I must have wanted to go home - maybe I was bored or starting to feel a little ill even - because I never asked to see the nurse unless I wanted to get out of school. The school nurse was a very nice, patient lady with a cot overhung by a series of medicine cabinets in a closet off the main office. I sat down on the cot and told her my complaint. She absently stuck a thermometer sticker to my forehead and went to find my file to see if I could have some baby aspirin. When she came back and checked the thermometer, she asked me how I was feeling and told me to lie down for a little bit while she called my mom. I had a temperature of 103.6 and I didn't even feel sick. Mom picked me up and took me to the doctor where they listened to my lungs, which must have sounded pretty bad. By that point, I had a reverse psychosomatic thing going on - having been told I was most definitely not well, I suddenly felt pretty awful. Who knows how long I had a cold or flu leading up to the pneumonia; once I had it, I just couldn't get over it. I missed the last week and half or so of school (I never got to make a gingerbread house - sad!) and was sick all through Christmas break, so in total, about a month. It was the pits. The pictures of me from Christmas that year are pretty bad: I'm somehow flushed and wan at the same time, with this weak little smile that says, "I should be having fun but I just want to fall asleep to Mary Poppins again." I am super glad for both your sake and Olivia's that her pneumonia is clearing up quickly, and that you were so organized for her doctor visit! A+ and a gold star on your Mom skillz! :D

An addendum: As a class project, Mrs. Brenner (my second grade teacher) had everyone make me a card. My best friend, John, drew Puny Gecko (a cartoon hero of his own design) on his card, with the inscription, "Evan is copying me. -John" You can guess what is on Evan's card.

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Helen said...

Glad you found out what was wrong! We had problems for a while with my youngest running a constant low grade fever with a runny nose, but now other symptoms. The fever runs for a few days, then disappears. Just when I think everything is fine, it starts back up again. We went to the doctor twice, had blood drawn, tested for strep, the whole nine yards. Nothing showed up. She just keeps getting some miserable little cold that apparently doesn't bother her even though it worries me.

I'm keeping an eye on her, and am glad you were able to figure out what was going on with your little one. It's nerve-wracking, isn't it?

Carolyn said...

What irks me is when you call the doctor to tell them your child is sick and they assume you're just an over protective mother.
I remember the time when you in the hospital getting tubes put in or taken out. You really had a lot of pain after the surgery. More than usual I should say. When I asked nurse Ratched if you could have something else for pain, she pretty much said that I was overly concerned and you couldn't have anything for at least another hour. I even asked her to call your doctor. She wouldn't do that either. All I got the you're just an over protective mommy look. That's when I told her I was taking you out of the hospital and going home. Then she had the nerve to tell me that I can't do that. Yeah right just watch me. After we got home I called the doctors office and told them what had happened. The doctor was angry that nurse Ratched wouldn't call them. They called in a prescription for a stronger pain reliever and we all lived happily ever after.