Posts Tagged ‘ pneumonia ’

What My Doctor Says I Can’t Do With Emmett

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

We had Em’s 2-year appointment last week. All the routine stuff checks out fine. She did say if he gets pneumonia again, they would have to look into some immunology testing (gulp) to see what is the underlying reason. All kids get colds and coughs. The issue is, if his continues to turn into pneumonia, then there is some reason his lungs aren’t clearing it on their own. Every time he coughs, my ears tune in and I hope that it’s not turning chronic.

I told my doctor how, um, active he is–a Tasmanian devil on steroids. Albeit, a gleeful, exuberant one. I am actually surprised it took him almost 2 years to have his first ER trip. I also told her how impatient his is. If he wants milk and doesn’t get it 3 seconds before he wanted it (because I’m a mind-reader), the absolute screaming and crying becomes instantly epic. I feel like a racehorse rushing to get him what he wants as soon as possible before the meltdown begins. It’s absurd. It goes against my parenting style of not catering to their every whim immediately. But trying to tell him to wait, and even show him, “Look Emmett, mommy is getting your milk right now,” has no impact. Once he realizes it’s not instantly there, there is no consolation until he gets it. Then he’s fine–as if the multitude of tears and tantruming was as routine as a laugh. Or a cough (bleh).

I told the pediatrician, “It’s like he needs instant gratification.”

Her response was strong: “This is a kid you absolutely cannot hand an iPhone or iPad too in those situations. Kids need to learn to be bored, to be patient, to wait. If you hand him a device, he will never learn. You just have to make him wait. But don’t give in to the technology temptation.”

It reminded me of an earlier point she made at his 18-month appointment about what new studies are showing for kids who are raised electronically (meaning given devices to play with all the time). It is scary sh-t. Luckily Phil and I are pretty diligent in our efforts to keep both kids away from that sort of reliance.

Nevertheless, I thought it was a good reminder to pass along. I wrote a few days ago about how marketers and developers continuingly come up with things to make parenting “easy.” But if you want the easy way out, then don’t have kids. Because if you’re a parent, you need to actually parent. “Easy” now will make it much harder later when they can’t function without constant stimulation.

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Why Modern Innovations Can’t “Parent” For You

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

My grandmother lived until she was 97 years old. She raised 7 kids on a cattle ranch in rural South Dakota. By rural, I mean the closest town was 30 miles away and had a population of 12. They had no running water or electricity for many years. My dad and his siblings grew up using an outhouse. They went to a one-room schoolhouse. It was right out of Little House on the Prairie.

How my grandmother would react knowing that a) Huggies has developed an app that tweets you when your baby pees (they say it’s just for a study so parents can know how many diapers they go through) and that b) Stephen McLaughlin is having the internet name his daughter –is beyond me. Actually I know how my grandmother is reacting. She’s rolling over in her grave.

Sure, innovations can be great. My parents (and grandparents) didn’t have a choice but to use cloth diapers and hand wash. Now we have 15 brands of diapers, including organic, to choose from. I started off using Pampers with Fia–the ones with the blue line that appears if your baby outputs 2 drops of pee. Anytime Phil and I saw even a little bit of a blue line, we’d frantically rush to change her. That is, until we realized we were going through some 25 diapers a day (cue grandma rolling over).  What a waste, both monetarily and environmentally. So we switched to the brown organics, where we used less but probably spent more to make sure nothing petroleum-based was touching her bum (more rolling over). I am a marketer’s dream.

Here’s the thing that developers and marketers are missing when they throw as much sh-t on the wall to see what will stick: no matter how much you innovate, the basics of raising a baby are innate and primal.  A parent cannot raise their baby via an app.  Nor should they want to. Though I guess they can name their baby via the internet, like McLaughlin is doing. Right now CTHULHU tops the list. He says it will be a great story to tell his daughter when she gets married. He’s missing the fact that he’ll have to tell her by the age of 2 when she gets made fun of on the playground. And by 3 when no teacher can pronounce her name. And again at age 4 when she’s not able to spell it.

With Emmett, I got over all that first-kid paranoia and went with what is/was cheapest. Except when it came to pacifiers. Since we now have 37 to choose from, you can pop them in and see what sticks, or well, sucks. The only one he took to was the Natursutten–which is the most expensive and not easy to find. I enabled his little habit until last week when I bought the more accessible and less expensive MAM. This, after the rubber on his $12 one was so disgusting it looked like it had been mangled by a rabid puppy–which isn’t far from the truth. Why I’m not making him give it up completely by age 2 is because I want the crutch. I want the easy way out. It helps him fall asleep and soothes him when he’s fussy. So yes, I buy into a lot of this stuff too. But if he’s really sad he needs me. Or Phil. Not a BPA-free device. “Hold you,” he says. No pacifier can replace that.

And I guess that’s my point:  In this day and age with app after app being developed, the assumption is we are looking for the easy way out. But the truth is, there isn’t one. Parenting puts you in the trenches no matter how much money or help you have. If you have kids, you should expect to do at least some work. Luckily most of us don’t live in a place where we have to hand-wash cloth diapers in a dirty river. Luckily most of us have electricity and running water and washing machines. Thank god we live in a developed country where our babies won’t die of diarrhea–or in my case two weeks ago–pneumonia. But at some point companies need to stop the madness and we need to stop buying into the more ridiculous gimmicks to make parenting “easier.”

I often wonder about uber-rich celebrities who have babies.  Did Angelina use a timed sleep app to avoid crying in frustration when her 15 different babies woke up during the night? I doubt it. Does she tend to at least some of them when they’re sick or does a robot take their temperature? (I’m sure if there isn’t such a device there will be soon). I’m sure she had/has 10 night nurses, but even so, if she was breastfeeding, she would have had to get up at least once or twice and pump–until they develop an app to do that for you too. Did Courtney Cox choose from 30 different nipple creams for chaffing? Did Madonna have to use those huge hospital pads in her underwear after childbirth? Whether or not you have a c-section or vaginal birth, you still bleed. A lot. Will they make one that tweets when the pad needs changing?

I have to assume all these moms had to roll up their sleeves and parent. Why else would you have kids if you don’t want to do any of the work?

As my friend Cassandra kept telling me when Emmett was a baby, “It’s time to mom-up.” I was worried about letting my night nurse go. I went so bat sh-t crazy/delusional with Fia from lack of sleep.  I was terrified to go down that same path. So during my pregnancy with Emmett, I had a stash of money saved so I could pay for my sleep. Granted we have no family nearby, and that is different than when my grandma had her extended one close by. And with 7 kids, the older ones helped with the younger ones. But there comes a point when things like apps that tweet your baby’s pee becomes indulgent. I know, because I was–and can be–indulgent. But I hope I’m smart enough and have enough mom instinct to know when to draw the line.

As for having the internet name your kid? Well, that’s just stupid. When the story came out two weeks ago, I flagged it as something to write about. But I didn’t. Why? Because I was parenting from the trenches, taking care of my 2 really sick kids. I was too busy being a mom–and worrying about my kids–to worry about writing a blog based on yet another indulgence of the internet.

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Digital Devices and Children
Digital Devices and Children
Digital Devices and Children

Pioneer pic via Shutterstock

Apps picture via shutterstock

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My Kids’ Health Crisis, Part 2

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

I hate to see my kids sick. Who does? I hate it even more when they are diagnosed with something “rare,” which is exactly what happened to Fia after the Wednesday doctor visit.  I left my last post off with Em’s pneumonia and the removal of Fia’s alleged tonsil stone, which was followed by a 105.5 fever.

Thursday morning I had to take them both back in. Emmett’s lungs were still “wet,” but they thought he sounded a little better. One down, one to go.

Fia however, now had a huge patch of white on her left tonsil, and it was really swollen and red. A different doctor saw us and said she had a peritonsillar abscess– something that is uncommon in a young child. She said that Fia now needed the hospital-grade antibiotic shot–the same one Em had the day before.

Note to self: Never tell your kid they won’t get a shot before taking them to the doctor. Technically, I told her she probably wouldn’t need one, so I didn’t swear it. But that didn’t help the wailing. Now she had to endure what she gleefully witnessed her brother getting the day before. A butt shot. She walked out limping–which the doctor said happens. However, Fia managed to dramatically limp for the next 36 hours. She’s my girl.

The pediatrician said we had to come back the next day to see if the swelling was down. She seemed worried. She also said the white stuff we thought was a tonsil stone was actually pus. She said this could turn into a serious infection that would require an ENT to surgically drain the abscess. If it got worse, she would need to be hooked up on antibiotics at the hospital with an IV line. You know when you are on a flight with turbulence and you look to the flight attendant for reassurance and she looks just as frightened as you? Well that is how I felt.

I don’t know what it is, but I somehow worry about Fia more than Emmett. Maybe because he’s such a wild boy who is capable of large-scale destruction while remaining indestructible himself. Fia is so lithe, and while tough and fearless, has a fragile, ethereal way about her. And she’s so damn sweet. Her latest thing is she wants to be a Superhero so she can help people. She has an empathy that I think is pretty remarkable for her age. Sometimes I think she’s too good to be true. Self-indulgent and narcissistic, I know. But it’s how I feel. I was really worried with this infection.

I went home and Googled the abscess. Why is it rare in children and what causes it? Leukemia is what came up on one site. I felt a sinking, sick feeling in my stomach. I stopped Googling. We all know Google is the devil at a time like this.

I watched her like a hawk. I bribed her with television then, 6 hours later, with a lollipop, to look twice in her throat. The swollen, pus-covered bulge wasn’t changing. Neither was her fever. I kept hoping the antibiotics would work.

The next morning she was no better, though I felt calmer for some reason.  It was also Friday. Once again, I took them both back. Em was still on the right track, though he had now developed an ear infection, despite being on oral antibiotics. Cue yet another butt shot. This time Fia didn’t grin. She grimaced. She even got her limp back–for dramatic effect perhaps?

The pediatricians sent us to the head ENT doctor at Children’s Hospital. They wanted us to see a specialist before going into the weekend. I scrambled to get a sitter for Emmett in case Fia needed surgery on the spot.

I have never been so happy in my life to hear the beautiful word: tonsillitis. That’s what he said it was. He said it was swollen more on one side, which could have made the pediatricians think abscess. But the white stuff wasn’t pus–it actually was a tonsil stone. It had just grown. He said it would go away in time. Now whether my pediatricians had averted an abscess by injecting her with antibiotics or not, we won’t ever know. I stand by everything they did, but I was gleeful to hear the words, “Go on home.”

We celebrated with ice cream. Doc said it was okay.

“Just the girls,” she said as she licked her “icing-on-the-cake-with-sprinkles” cone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Em would still barely eat and only take a bottle. Of course this meant diarrhea. Which meant diaper rash. So I found myself back in the throes of newborn territory. I have given them both Culturelle like candy. The doctors told me that right now probiotics are my best friends.

Despite all this, by Sunday, both kids were doing much better. We decided some fresh beach air would do them good. Off we went.

We played in the sand and splashed at the edge of the tide. Phil and I exchanged looks of relief. But fate wasn’t done with us yet.  We changed Emmett’s diaper in the back of the car. As I went to put his pants on, the wild-child-who-can’t-sit-still turned around and flung himself forward, falling face first onto the seat back. He stood up shrieking. Blood was streaming from the outer corner of his right eye.  We thought he sliced his eyeball. We threw them both in their car seats and rushed to the closest ER. He missed his eyelid by 1/8th of an inch.

When the boy is sick, he’s super cuddly. When he’s not, you have to be on a constant death watch. He would find danger in a padded room.

Ending the epic week in the Marina Del Ray emergency room begs the question: How many gods did I piss off in my previous life? I am burning 7 twigs tonight, one for each day of the week. I will recite “Ill luck is broken as these words are spoken.”

Yes, I’m resorting to fairy-magic, hippie-dippy crazy crap at this point. Why not? Of course if my luck doesn’t turn around, my twigs could catch fire and burn the house down…

 

 

 

Cartoon pic of sick kids via Shutterstock

 

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My Kids’ Health Crisis, Part 1 = My Resolution Crisis

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Remind me to never make a New Year’s resolution for as long as I have kids under the age of 18. My resolutions were reasonable and tangible. For 5 minutes. At the top of my list: getting back on the blog. Posting at least twice a week. Followed by running 2 times a week and doing yoga at least once a week.

Then came the proverbial thunderstorm that sucked me into its vortex as it wreaked havoc on my week. Here is part 1 of my war story.*

Wednesday at 3 a.m.: Em coughs to the point of barfing. Fia wakes up complaining of something in her throat.

Em eventually falls back asleep, propped up in crib, humidifier at full speed, slathered in Vicks Vapor Rub, particularly on his feet (click here for more on this cough tip).

For Fia, I see a white “thing” almost like a skin tag on her tonsil. I give her Motrin.

Wednesday 9 a.m.: Em is doing awful. He can barely breathe because the cough is relentless. Fia is saying it’s hard to swallow. I rush both kids to the doctor. Em is diagnosed with full-blown pneumonia. They give him a hospital-grade antibiotic shot in the butt to try and avert an emergency room visit. I guess this is a super painful shot, and he screams bloody murder as big fat tears roll down his face. Fia can’t wait to tell everyone about this. She is almost giddy.

Meanwhile, she is diagnosed with a “tonsil stone“…which is when debris of food and bacteria build up on your tonsil, causing a hardened, white, almost scab-like spot. The doc doesn’t think it’s hardened yet though and is able to put a long Q-tip in her throat and knock it off. Or so he thinks. Problem solved. 

Wednesday 4 pm: Fia spikes a 105.5 fever. I’m suspect that the stone wasn’t the only issue.  Problem not solved. I give her Motrin, she seems fine and I am so preoccupied with Em, I don’t call the doctor. Em just wants to cuddle and sleep. For once the world’s most active (almost) 2-year old boy is passive.

Wednesday 11 pm: Em’s fever is 103 (love my thermometer because I don’t have to touch him to take his temp) and he is panting in his sleep at a rate of 70 breaths per minute. I speak to the on-call doctor. She said if we can give him Motrin and get his fever down, his breathing should slow to 30-35 bpm. If not, then we have to get him to the ER for oxygen.

Emmett is the worst child with taking medicine. Even at the doctor’s office the nurse gave up on helping me with Motrin when he barfed all over her. He is so stubborn, and he gargles it at the back of his throat until he pukes. But Phil and I had to get it down. So we get him up and pinch his cheeks so his mouth is open and the cheeks are between his teeth. That way the nurse said he can’t bite down because he’ll bite his cheeks. I get 1/5th of a dose in before he projectile vomits on us both. Fia is awake now screaming with a 104 fever.

I get Emmett in a cool bath, then try again once he’s dried off and a little calmer. I manage to get down about half a dosage. I decided not to push my luck, because I’d rather him have a little bit than barf all of it up.

Phil is with Motrin-medicated Fia, whose fever is down again. I’m with Emmett, waiting for him to fall asleep so I can count his breaths. 30 minutes later he is panting, but at a rate of 35-40 breaths per minute. I put him back in his crib and go to sleep on the spare bed.

It’s only been 20 hours since this all began…and that was just the beginning of my perfect shit-storm. And the end to my New Year’s resolutions. I’ll post the rest tomorrow.

*I realize in the grand-scheme of things, this is just a bad day/week. We are not battling a chronic illness or worse. But I like to put it all out there in case anyone else has experienced these same conditions or others. It’s parenting in the trenches. Thankfully I don’t have to do it often. Tell me your tips/stories.  It feels good to write it all down.

 

Yoga pose via Shutterstock

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