Friday, January 18, 2008

Fighting Fear

My first two children very rarely got sick. I figured it was the breastmilk that did it. Josh, on the other hand, seems to be making up for it by being sick for all three of them. I'm starting to feel like my breastmilk soured or became defective or something because I can't keep him healthy for more than a few days.

First there was RSV. One evening, when Josh was 2 1/2 weeks old, he and I developed cold symptoms. I wasn't worried about it because my older son, Sammy, had just gotten over a mild cold so I figured we picked it up from him. I'd just nurse Josh and he'd be fine like my other kids always were and because I'd have antibodies to share. The next morning we went to church like normal (he wasn't going to the nursery). When we came home, I noticed he felt warm as I was carrying him in. He hadn't been warm at all at church. I took his temperature and found it to be moderately high. I checked my hospital paperwork and found it was over the limit listed. I called the doctor and was told to take him to the ER. Off we went.

At the ER I found out it was crucial for them to determine the cause of the fever because of his age. They had to do a full workup: urine, blood, nasal secretions, and spinal tap. The spinal tap was torture.

Not long later, I received the first bit of bad news; he had a kidney infection and would require a minimum two day stay so that they could administer IV antibiotics. I called my husband and we arranged for my children to spend a couple days with a family friend so that he could join us. We told his job he wouldn't be coming in; we didn't care if he lost his job over it either. They started the IV in ER while we waited for a room to be readied for us.

Then we received the next bit of bad news; he also had RSV. I was instantly scared; I knew about RSV. We were told that he'd now require at least a four day stay. I called my dad to see if he could get time off work to come care for my other children as my friend could only keep them three days. He could.

We spent 8 days in the hospital with our baby. He was obviously suffering and many times there was nothing we could do to ease his discomfort. We listened as monitors sounded alarms when his blood oxygen level dropped too low. We watched as respiratory specialists came in regularly to thread tubing up his nose to suction out the thick mucus that was keeping him from getting the vital oxygen he needed. We never left him, not for a minute, without one of us in the room with him. Every time a nurse or specialist walked in the room, we stood and joined them at his bedside, day or night. By the third day, he could no longer breathe well enough to nurse at all, not even a little, and he went 18 hours without eating anything at all. He cried for two hours, in pain and hungry, while we stood by helplessly and cried too. He lost a full pound, ten percent of his body weight, in just a few days. Finally, he passed the hump and started to get better. But he wasn't getting all the way better and they couldn't get him weaned off the oxygen. He was able to nurse again but I was in such a state of fatigue and stress, that I broke down. I was in a state of depression (a state I know well and was afraid to revisit) and couldn't bare to hold him let alone nurse him. My husband sent me home to shower and see my other kids and, hopefully, come back better able to cope again. I called my best friend and my dad fixed me some food. I showered, hugged my kids, and drove back to the hospital with enough energy to make it one more day. Finally, after eight days, he came home. It took several days after that for him to recover fully.

That was last March. He had a few colds after that. Then somewhere around September he developed an ear infection. Antibiotics didn't clear it so he had another round of antibiotices, only this time a stronger one. Immediately after that, we discovered that he had a bladder infection again. He was placed, once again, on antibiotics. The goal: to get rid of it before it developed into a kidney infection requiring IV treatment in the hospital. Two weeks later, we went back in for a recheck. I knew it wouldn't be gone because the medicine was bitter and he wouldn't swallow it. Antibiotic number four was started. It didn't work. Antibiotic number five was prescribed. This one made him throw up several times; probably more psychosymatic from having to take so much medicine. We went back for a recheck and I told the doctor, "Enough!" I requested some time to try to treat it naturally and started him on cranberry supplements. It's been 12 days and he hasn't developed a fever. We go back Thursday for a recheck (and another catheter...poor guy) to see if the cranberry did the trick. I'm praying it did because I'm worried about what these medicines are doing to him and the consequences of not being able to get rid of it.

In the meantime, he's sick again. He has a runny nose. It's clear and doesn't run all the time. When it does, though, you better be quick. He started coughing last night. It was worse today. A few times the coughing made him throw up. Mostly he's acting okay...still playing, still smiling, still have, no fever. However, during my last visit I asked my doctor about RSV season (I'm still paranoid about him getting it again). RSV season hasn't started yet here; however, whooping cough is going around. And he's coughing....

I can't help feeling afraid.

Having a baby in the hospital changes you. I never used to be this paranoid about my children being sick. We use to keep playdates even if our friends were sick. Now, I won't take Josh to church because I see runny noses in the nursery. Every runny nose is potentially RSV, potentially a stay at the hospital, potentially a life-ending event.


Michelle Olsen Sasak said...

I'm so sorry this is happening. I know how it feels to be afraid to even leave the house with your kids because they might get sick. Miss J spent 5 days in the hospital when she was born because she had all sorts of issues. Both girls had holes in their hearts. Miss J had to get RSV shots during the RSV seasons when she was 1 & 2. Miss O got Rotavirus from a McDonald's high chair and we spent 5 days feeding her 1 tsp. of pedialyte every 15 min. to flush out & reset her body. A couple years ago, both girls got pneumonia, and Miss O's required 5 days in the hospital. Miss O got a bronchial tube infection earlier this year. Now they have some mystery illness that might be Celiac's. I'm afraid too. I'll pray for Josh to get mom should have to be this afraid.

Happy Campers said...

I am SO there with you! When my son was just under 2yrs, he caught Rotavirus & was hosipitalized for 5 days with severe hydration. In the time he was home, sick, we visited the doctor, monitored constantly the amount of fluid going in (not much, but "enough" by doc's standards). It was heartbreaking to know that he was SO sick when he went to the hospital. Anytime his poo is anything other than normal, I get scared of Rotavirus again. Hope he's doing OK :)

Happy Campers said...

that should have read "severe DEhydration" :)