Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sicky McSicky Pants

We all have the Galloping Crud around here and it isn't even the least bit funny. Usually TS or EG gets the sickest and miraculously LH usually runs through these things really fast. DH and I usually only take turns being under the weather so one of us gets to be in charge and then the other one takes over when they feel better. This year, the flu didn't cooperate and act like it usually does.

TD and EG had a very mild case of it. Actually EG didn't run a fever at all, but she was a big-time grouchy-butt, so I kept her home as long as TD. The real patient this year, has been LH. Her fever has been at least 99.7 and all the way up to 102.5 at times. She is coughing and snotty and making all sorts of wonderful noises all day and all night. I have learned how to be all cool about this sort of thing (even though inside my brain is screaming in Panic Mode) because rushing her to the doctor for every, little, tiny sniffle is just asking to have more germs added to the mix. I am finding it harder and harder to keep my composure as she hacks and coughs in the next room. The Mom in me wants to rush up and cradle my baby in my arms and snuggle her till she feels better. The HLHS Mom in me wants to freak out and rush her to the hospital to have her X-rayed, and tested, and listened to, and watched. The Sensible Mom in me has been largely in control so far and I haven't done that yet - partially because she is getting slowly better but more because I don't want to over react again. It is VERY hard not to over react, though, because I have been through such serious episodes of sickness with all three of them, that I constantly second guess my "instincts"

When she was a little baby, I would have her in the dr's office and the ER at the drop of a hat. The slightest cough or sniffle and I was convinced that she had pneumonia again and I couldn't sleep until I knew her chest was clear. I lost track of how many times I went home from the Emergency Room being told that I was already doing everything I could and that she would be just fine. I felt like I was turning into "That Mom." The one that you KNOW the pediatrician regrets ever seeing enter into their office (after the last four pediatricians stopped taking her calls.)

Just when I relaxed a bit and thought I had put things into perspective (I managed to stay away from the ER for two whole years) I casually gave EG a hug and she felt like she was on fire. A further examination showed all three of them were running fevers and TD was pale and listless as well (this has happened over the course of a few hours.) Of course it was a Sunday evening. Before long, I had all three of them in the ER together, and TD was hooked up to IV bags because she was so dehydrated. I felt like a horrible mother for letting this happen. Surely if I had been more on top of things she wouldn't have gotten that sick. I went into Eagle Eye Mode again and I'm sure the pediatrician wondered why a seasoned mother of three was calling her once a week about silly stuff that I already knew.

In this case, the hyper-attention was a good thing. Christmas break brought another round of illness back to the house, but I managed to handle things without chucking out a major co-pay. Everyone seemed to get over things by the time school started but then something happened that put us back into the ER. LH had a substitute for her gym class who wasn't completely aware of all of issues that might come up. When the kids all ran seven laps around the gym (equal to about a mile) LH only ever ran two laps and stopped, knowing not to over do it. The teacher didn't ask her WHY she stopped running, only that she really needed to do her best. LH, doing what she was told, did her best and ran fully six laps. The entire class was cheering her on even LH was surprised at how well she did. (I can imagine this whole Chariots of Fire scene.) Then, she went back to class, put head down on her desk and promptly passed out.

Fifteen minutes and one concerned call from the nurse later and we end up back in the ER with virtually the same symptoms from the week before. The nurse took LH's oxygen level (noticing her ever-present blue lips) and then rushed us into the asthma wing due to congestion. We spent the next several hours taking breathing treatments, monitoring her breathing, heart rate, and oxygen, and trying to find things to keep a hyperactive nine year old busy in the ER. (If you've ever had to give your kids a breathing treatment, you understand why this was an issue. Asthma medication is basically speed administered as a vapor.) She went home with a prescription for antibiotics and an inhaler and she has had to use it on and off ever since.

As a mom, it is hard to get past that sort of thing. As an HLHS mom, I feel downright guilty. Did I somehow let my little girl down by not teaching her to stand up for herself and recognize her own limits? Is it the fault of the teacher for not asking? Is this just something I will have to learn to love with? I sure hope not. It took several months for LH to get over this round of sickness and her oxy levels really never recovered. About a year later we had to have LH back into surgery to put two stints in to help her overall energy level. Were these situations related? Did my lack of attention end up putting her back in the hospital? We might never know if she would have needed the stints or not if she hadn't gotten sick.

Now I face a similar dilemma. She hasn't overdone it or missed her medications, but she has been sick for at least a week now. Her appetite was gone for three or four days, and she has lost a few pounds because of it. I've been giving her all the over the counter meds I can and she still has a fever. The emergency room is for emergencies - you won't live if you don't see a doctor NOW. I think she will live through this, but I am still worried. I am going to attempt to compromise between Panic and Peace, and I will wait through the night and call the doctor in the morning. As often as I have been through this, there are no signs that talking to or seeing someone tonight is that much more important that waiting until the morning when I won't be getting people out of bed or disturbing their dinner. I know there are people at the ER at all hours, but I also know that late evening is the time when things are the craziest and I really think that exposing her to all that is counter-productive. So. I will watch her closely and call as soon as the office opens up in the morning. I hope I can resist picking up the phone until then.

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