Friday, April 25, 2008

The first bout of strep

The kiddo is currently in the midst of a crisis-level bout of strep throat. It came on out of nowhere today. Things started out unextraordinairily enough - she woke up slightly earlier than normal (5:45 instead of 6-6:30ish) but was in good spirits, ate her full breakfast, etc. She went to school and at pick-up time, I got a good report from the teachers - nothing out of the ordinary at all.

In the hour after school, however, she went from being fine - telling me all about the life cycle of a butterfly (frogs and butterflies were the theme for preschool this week) - to limp, practically passing out with glazed eyes rolling back into her head, draped across me. She also went from cool as a cucumber to burning up in - I am not kidding or exaggerating here - less than ten minutes, and began complaining of a "bad" headache. We were not at home when this sudden change occurred, so I promptly bailed on our lunch date just as she was setting the food on the table, hauled the kiddo out to the car and headed for home. The twenty minutes it took me to get across town were the scariest twenty minutes I've had with the kiddo in a health-related situation since the time when she was an infant and spiked a high fever, resulting in a trip to the ER in the middle of the night. I debated going straight to the ER as I watched her in the rearview - her leg, where I could feel it when reaching back, just above the ankle, was so hot and she wasn't very responsive. I drilled her with questions, trying to ascertain her other symptoms. I seriously thought it could've been meningitis, and was trying hard not to let my mind race eighty steps ahead even as I broke every single speed limit between where we were and home. As soon as we pulled in, I carried her upstairs - she said she was too tired to walk - and took her temperature. 102.9. I was on the phone with our pediatrician's office even before I got the children's Motrin into her. Fortunately, their office is five minutes from our house, and with the luck of getting all green lights, I was carrying my feverish, dazed child into the waiting room three minutes after hanging up the phone. (The pediatrician's office is closer than the nearest hospital, which is why I brought her there.) Within half an hour of our arrival, we were on our way to the pharmacy, the doctor having diagnosed her with strep following a remarkably positive strep test, despite her not having any complaints of a sore throat. (Thank goodness these tests now take less than 3 minutes - I remember as a child, the cultures needed at least a day or two before the results could be determined.) We waited for the Keflex prescription to be filled, and as we waited the kiddo briefly rallied, most likely from the Motrin finally kicking in to lower her temp. The doctor's instructions were to give her a dose as soon as we got home, another before bed, then again in the morning and the hope was that with the three doses in her, we'd be all right to keep our plans to attend the circus with some friends tomorrow - plans we've had for almost two months and about which the kiddo has been mucho excited.

We got back home and I gave her the Keflex. This is only the third time she's ever had antibiotics in her almost-five years, and the first for this particular one. She hadn't eaten anything since snack at preschool (which featured a birthday cookie cake for one of her classmates) so I gave her a glass of juice to wash down the rather foul, sulfury-smelling medicine.

Not twenty minutes later, the vomiting began. The first bout brought up everything she had ingested since waking this morning. (I recognized various bits of curdled things as they poured over my hands, arms and into my lap...) But that wasn't the end of it. The kiddo proceeded to keep throwing up about every twenty minutes for the next five hours. After the first, massive heaving, I called the doctor again while the kiddo stood under the shower (we were both contaminated from hair to feet). I figured it was the Keflex that caused her to throw up, but he assured me it was actually the strep. Now, as a child, my one sister would hear the word "strep" and develop a raging case, but I don't recall her ever throwing up from it. It was a sore throat kinda thing - same thing holds true for the two times I ever had it myself. (I - knock on wood - seem to be fairly well immune to coming down with strep. Knocking wood again.) The doctor's advice was to wait 30 minutes for her stomach to settle, then to push some liquids, one tablespoon at a time, for an hour, and if they stayed down, give her the next dose of Keflex and Motrin at bedtime (7pm). Well, the vomiting continued and not a single drop of anything - not water, not Gatorade - was staying down for more than 20 minutes and then her fever started going up again, which really had both Hubby and I concerned. Back on the phone with the doctor's office. The doctor on call was neither our usual doctor (who was off today) nor the doctor we saw and then with whom I spoke earlier in the day. He was immediately concerned about dehydration, as Hubby and I had been. His instructions were to give her one tablespoon of Gatorade every five minutes, regardless of whether or not she threw it back up, for as long as she would stay awake. Once she was sleeping (at this point it was 7pm, though she was still awake and watching her zillionth episode of Word World of the night), he said to let her sleep. If the signs of dehydration worsened, we were to call him back and then head to the ER. Additionally, he recommended giving her some Tylenol to see if that would stay down and bring the fever down.

Well, we pushed the fluids as instructed, and Hubby ran out for children's Tylenol. He measured off a tablespoon and marked a cup for me, and every five minutes, the kiddo sipped another tablespoon. We got almost 8 ounces into her this way (and thanks to several more episodes of Word World - I think she saw every one on our extensive TiFaux list) before she asked to go to bed. Better still, she stopped vomiting by 8pm (knocking wood) and seemed much more comfortable with the Tylenol in her system. She went to sleep around 9:00, and now I'm just staying up until her next dose of Tylenol. We've got her door open so we can hear any telltale sounds of trouble, and I'm just hoping and praying that her stomach has settled and she'll sleep well tonight. The circus is obviously out for tomorrow. If the rest of the night goes well and we don't wind up in the ER, we'll try the Keflex again in the morning (per doctor's instructions) and hopefully knock this freaking strep out of her system.

I made the same mistake I always do whenever I'm told any diagnosis, either for myself or anyone in my family or friends. I hop on the computer and google it. Since my recollections about childhood strep were fuzzy at best and didn't affect me directly (the first time I ever had it myself, I was 19 years old), I wanted to refresh myself on the symptoms and treatments. Now, of course, I'm worrying that the kiddo will develop acute rheumatic fever and its accompanying heart conditions since we can't get the antibiotics into her and the strep onset was so sudden and severe... Ugh.

I am telling you - and all parents already know this, there is nothing scarier than a very sick child. The feeling of helplessness and powerlessness is unbearable and heartbreaking. I am so grateful that she is, for the moment, resting comfortably and that we are not on our way to the hospital. If this is how strep manifests itself in her, I fervently hope she never, ever gets it again.

1 comment:

My name is Andy. said...

Oh Heather! I hope she's better soon! How scary for all of you!