Friday, August 03, 2012

Nothing is worse than a sick baby...

It has been a long, stressful week, and I discovered something about myself:  

I am not sure I am strong enough for this whole Mom thing.

There.  I said it.

Why, you ask?  Well, my baby got sick, and it nearly killed me to watch the little guy suffer.  It was horrible.  I've never been so stressed, worried and felt so absolutely helpless in my life.  

Hanging out with daddy during a steam treatment.

It all started last Friday night.  Banner woke up several times with intense coughing fits.  Then, he started coughing so hard and long that he threw up.  We filled the bathroom with steam and sprayed his nose with saline solution in an effort to soothe the little guy, but it provided only temporary (and marginal) relief.

Then, he coughed so hard during his early morning bottle that he lost it all, and we decided to call the pediatrician.  The diagnosis?  Yet another ear infection in his left ear.

Since we called the doctor pretty much the moment they opened on Saturday morning, we were able to secure one of the first appointments of the day.  We arrived at 8:40, saw the doctor by 9, and Banner was home sucking down his first round of antibiotics by 10 AM.  It was a banner morning for efficiency, let me tell you.

The antibiotics seemed to start helping pretty quickly, and Banner felt well enough to splash, swim and play at Grammy Pammy's that afternoon.  And Saturday night was relatively uneventful as the little guy was finally able to get some shut eye without all the constant coughing.

Similarly, Sunday found Banner feeling pretty well.  He was a little fussy in the afternoon, but we figured he was just tired.  He cried when I put him down for a nap in his crib, so I ended up allowing him to sleeping on my chest while I watched the Olympics and Trevor watched Batman with his brother at North Park.  I assumed the B-Man just wanted to be held and I was more than happy to oblige.

We went to dinner that night with my dad, Mimi and Bud at Brook Hollow.  Banner seemed to be fine, but Mimi commented that he felt warm when she first held him.  I dismissed it; chalking it up to how hot he gets after riding around in the car in his black car seat.  Plus, he seemed to be in a good mood.  The only mishap of the evening was a pretty big blowout that I got the "privilege" of dealing with in the ladies locker room before our food arrived.

(Which, seriously Brook Hollow?  No changing tables?  Because, OMG.  As fabulous as it was changing my baby on a chaise lounge, I'd much prefer something sturdy, plastic and not covered in easy-to-stain fabric.)

Banner fell asleep on the car ride home, and barely even stirred when I changed him into his PJs and tucked him into his crib for the night.

Then 1:30 AM happened.

Banner woke up screaming, and was completely inconsolable.  We changed him, walked with him, rocked him - nothing seemed to help.  Finally, Trevor suggested that we try a bottle and - hallelujah - he took it.  Once he calmed down a bit, I noticed he felt warm.  At first, I figured it was just because of the crying fit, but I decided to take his temp just in case.  And?  101.7.

Freak.  Out.

We were immediately on the phone with the call nurse at our pediatrician's office, and she was able to calm us down by explaining that the magic number for fevers had increased from 100.4 to 105 once Banner turned six months old.  The doctor's office should seriously send out a memo to all new parents telling them that, because I was still in the anything-higher-than-100.4-goes-straight-to-the-ER frame of mind.  Still, it was a fever, and the on call nurse told us to give Ban a dose of Tylenol.  It was her opinion that Banner's fever was being caused by the ear infection, and she informed us that it often takes 48-72 hours for antibiotics to start taking effect.

So we put the little guy back in his crib and waited.  For me, it was a long and relatively sleepless night.

I stayed home with the little guy Monday morning, and Trevor came home and took the afternoon shift.  I called the pediatrician's again that afternoon, and got the green light to alternate between  baby Tylenol and baby Motrin.  The little guy really seemed to respond to the ibuprofen, and it was nice to see him smile again.

By Tuesday, Banner's fever had dropped, but was still in the 100.4 to 100.9 range throughout the day, so I made him another appointment with the doctor since it had - officially - been 72 hours since we started the course of antibiotics.  The doctor who saw him that afternoon seemed rather dumbfounded.  Banner should be have been getting better, not worse.  His ear looked better and much of his congestion seemed to be clearing up.  And, yet, there was the fever and the fact that the little guy clearly wasn't feeling his best mixed with his lack of appitite (the little guy had lost nearly a pound since his first appointment on Saturday).  The conclusion was that Banner had contracted a virus - most likely while visiting the doctor the previous Saturday - which was resulting in the fever and - according to the doc - most likely body aches and a bad headache as well (hence the fussiness).  Fevers caused by viruses usually last 72 hours, so the pediatrician was hopeful that it would break by Wednesday morning.  If not, however, he wanted me to call back the following day.

Tuesday night, Banner seemed to be feeling better, but woke up in a puddle of vomit just an hour or two after we put him down for the night.  It was the first time that he threw up (as opposed to regular spit up), and it smelled sharply of bile.

Wednesday started off promisingly.  When Trevor woke up to give Banner his 6 AM bottle, the little guy's temp was noraml and seemed to be feeling better than he had in days.  The doctor had told us that Banner could return to day care once the fever had broken, but I elected to stay home with him again that morning because I wanted to make sure he really was on the mend.  Plus, I figured a little extra rest would do him some good. 

Banner was fussy and wouldn't go back to bed after his breakfast, so, after Trevor left for work, I brought him into our room and put him in bed with me.  That seemed to do the trick and he fell asleep until 9 AM.  When he woke up, though, he would barely touch his bottle and threw up what he did get down.  Then he started crying like he was in pain whenever I touched or moved him.  It got so bad that if I just shifted in bed next to him he would whimper.

I took his temp and it had gone back up to 99.9, but, when I called the pediatrician's office, I was told that "it isn't considered to be a real fever according to the American Association of Pediatrics until it reaches 100.4".  The advice nurse refused to let me make an appointment, and diagnosed Banner with a stomach virus over the phone.  I was very nearly in tears because I didn't feel like I was being taken seriously, and I knew something was wrong with my baby.

My baby Wednesday morning.

The nurse wanted me to give Banner Pedialyte in small doses throughout the day, but that required me to go to the store to buy some.  But just sitting up seemed to cause my baby agony, so I opted to wait to see how his noon feeding went.  The nurse told me that she would call back "if it would make me feel better" after checking with a doctor about Banner's latest symptoms.

Her tone let me know that she thought I was wasting her time.

Banner literally slept all morning, and seemed to feel a little better when he woke up around noon.  I tried another bottle, and - this time - he was able to keep down a couple of ounces.  So, once Trevor got home for the afternoon shift, we gave the little guy another dose of baby Motrin.  We both assumed that Banner was still suffering from body aches and/or a headache, and hoped the ibuprofen would help alleviate his discomfort.

The nurse called back around 2 PM.  Of course, by that time I was at the office but was able to report that Banner had kept some milk down around noon, and we were able to give him some baby Motrin for pain.  And?

And, well, she all but jumped down my throat.

Nurse:  "Why did you give him Motrin?  Did his fever return?"

Me:  "No, it is still in the 99.6-99.9 range..."

Nurse:  "That isn't a fever!"

Me:  "I know.  You told me that earlier.  It is just that he seems to be in so much pain..."

Nurse:  "How do you know he is in pain?  He can't TELL you he is in pain.  You are just ASSUMING he is in pain.  He is probably just fussy.  You are medicating him unnecessarily."

Me:  "He cries when you touch him and seems so weak.  I thought I was helping.  He is just so miserable."

Nurse:  "He just needs to be held.  Didn't you tell me earlier that he seemed comforted by your presence?"

Me:  "I know, but..."

Nurse:  "No buts.  If he is better when you hold him than HOLD HIM.  It is a virus.  It has to run its course.  You don't give a baby Motrin when he just needs his mother."

Me:  "But the doctor said..."

Nurse:  "That was yesterday when he had fever.  You told me yourself that his temp is completely normal.  If something was actually going on with your son, which I don't think there is, than you are masking the symptoms by medicating him unnecessarily.  Do you understand?"

Me:  "Yes, but..."

Nurse:  "And the doctor agrees with me that it is just another opportunistic virsus like I told you earlier.  And you just need to wait it out and let it run its course."

Me:  "If you'd just let me..."

Nurse:  "I know this isn't what you want to hear, and I can tell you aren't comfortable with it."

Me:  "It is just that..."

Nurse:  "Kids get sick.  I am sorry this is so inconvinient for you..."

Me [voice cracking]:  "Stop it and listen to me!  I know I am a first time mom, but I am not a hypercondriac.  I am not making this up.  I am not trying to medicate my son unnecessarily.  I know you don't agree, but something is something wrong here.  He has been sick for a week now, and on antibiotics since Saturday.  Every day there is something new, but he only seems to be getting worse and worse, not better.  And I am doing the best I can to comfort him, but he is lathargic.  He won't play.  All he will do is sleep.  And he cries when I touch or move him.  I don't know if he is in pain or just fussy, but that isn't like my baby!  You tell me some other way to relieve his pain, fussiness, discomfort - whatever! - and I will gladly try it, but stop it with the condescension.  I am doing the best I can here!"

I don't know if I got through to her or if she simply gave up, but she finally offered to let me make an appointment.

Originally, the appointment was scheduled for 4:20, but Trevor cancelled that one for an earlier one at 3:50 after Banner filled his diaper with what appeared to be blood that afternoon.

As a side note:  I am SO glad that Trevor changed that diaper and not me, because I was already standing on top of Mount Crazy Wednesday afternoon after talking with Nurse A$$ Cactus.  Seeing my baby's diaper full of blood would have more or less guaranteed that I'd jump (or fall) off.  

(Honestly, I'm not sure what I would have done, but it most likely would have involved hysterics and 9-1-1.)

As it turns out, it wasn't blood, but some sort of discoloration caused by the antibiotics (although they tested to make sure).  But the most amazing was the difference was Banner.  Once he pooped, it was like a switch was flipped, and he was suddenly back to his usual happy, smiley, playful self. 

Several of the pediatricians at the practice we go to met outside Banner's exam room, and they determined that there was a good chance that Banner's gut had actually twisted.  It hurt to touch or move him because he was in abdominal distress and experiencing painful stomach cramps.  Unfortunately, the only way to diagnois this condition for certain is to have an ultrasound done BEFORE the baby poops.  Because if the baby is able to move their bowels again, the kink is undone and there is no residual sign of it.

So if, heaven forbid, it ever happens again, I am supposed to immediately take the little guy to the ER.  

(At least I don't have to call the advice nurse.)

As a precautionary measure, though, they took Banner off the antibiotics.  The thought is that the drugs might have been exacerbating the tummy issues - even though the antibiotic he was on was one of the gentlest on little digestive tracts.  Of course, that means the ear infection could come back at any time since he only made it 5 days into a 10 day course.  But we've had no more tummy problems since, and Banner seems to feel 100% better (except for his cough that just.won't.go.away). 

Of course, after what happened earlier this year with Grammy Pammy, we all know that intestinal kinks and twists are a very serious matter (mom has the scars to prove it).  Consequently, we are all watching the little Ban-Man a little closer and celebrating every smile, toot and poopy diaper.

Sometimes it's the little, stinky things in life.

And if that silly ear infection can just stay at bay, we'd all be very happy campers indeed.  Because, quite frankly, I don't want to talk to that nurse again any time soon.

1 comment:

Merideth said...

Oh Dealey!!!! My heart BROKE for you reading this. I've never wanted to jump through a computer and punch someone the way I did that advice nurse. Aren't they supposed to be reassuring and helpful?!?!?!? Banner is SOOOO lucky to have you as a mom. (and Trevor as a dad) Y'all are some of the best parents I know and it shows in sweet Banner!

Hang in there!!!!!