sick days

The Sick and the Sad

 

**ive just been doing a little reflecting on how far we’ve come in a year.  This was in my draft folder and I decided to publish it today to remember where we were and how our circumstances have changed**

There is nothing much worse than waking up to the sound of your 3 year old retching.

There is nothing more pitiful than realizing your 3 year old knows how to throw up all by herself and is past the point of even alerting you anymore.

Up until April of this year, mg had literally never thrown up in her three years of life.  She wasn’t even a spit uppy baby.  Oh how I dreaded the day of the stomach bug and did everything natural I could to prevent it.  I’ve gotten a stomach virus every year since being pregnant with her and the thought of getting it again, in all how att, keeps me awake at night. Some people are good with vomit and bodily fluids and the like (bless your hearts, nurses)  But as for myself, I just can’t and don’t.  And pray it doesn’t come out way.  Just the mere mention of those two words together and my palms start to get a little sweaty. I start to feel nauseous (sympathy belly) and I avoid that person like…well..the plague

I hope this isn’t too gross but there is something about vomit that is just so visceral.  I like clean, calm,control (I’m working on it, yall) and the norovirus threatens to wreak havoc on all of that.
But anyway, back to the story.  Just so we’re clear that I ABHOR vomiting…

Her first bout of it literally was one episode andfeeling great the rest of the day.  I felt proud of myself for surviving that.  I felt proud of her that she wasn’t scared when it happened (that is such a weird concept to explain to kids, huh?).  And amazed that a stomach bug entered our house and we all remained relatively unscathed.

Three months later, she picked up another stomach bug.  This one was easy to trace to a source and having been exposed we figured it was only a matter of time before one of us
succumbed.  She was the first to go down but once again it only involved getting sick once and great spirits prevailed.

Forty eight hours later I was starting to relinquish a bit on my bleaching and homeopathic remedies for bug prevention.  I thought we’d once again gotten off pretty easily considering and I felt my anxiety towards stomach bugs in general, lift a little bit.  Maybe this was God’s way of showing me I don’t need to fear (I literally do fear these things) vomit in the house.  By day 3 I was sure we were all clear.

So that’s why day 4 caught me so off guard when I woke up to a revisit from the bug, and the victim was once again MG.

And it happened again on day 5, and day 12, and day 18, 19, and 20 with good and bad days in between.  Around day 6 I started to come down with it and then Bea and N both caught mild versions around day 8.  So we knew it was a contagious bug but our guts (pun unintended) told us there was something bigger going on.

We visited her doctor a few times during all of the sick days.  At first they told us that it’s normal for kids to take a while to recover from bugs like these.  But then they too, started to grow more concerned, as the sickness stretched from a week, to two, to almost a month.  We followed their advice and began to cut certain food groups out of her diet: unfermented dairy, gluten, and raw vegetables.  This seemed to help, but it obviously didn’t cure.

We fell into a predictable pattern.  MG would complain of a stomach ache upon waking up but then would be seemingly normal throughout the day.  She would have a normal appetite and act completely fine.  Then early the following morning, she would wake up, throw up mucous, and then experience stomach cramping, diarrhea, and more mucous-y vomiting for the next three days.

The lowest point for me was once again, the middle of the night, retching, after over a month of sickness.  I begged N to take her to the ER (I was still breastfeeding Bea at the time).  I was sure that a different doctor needed to see her (and was pretty convinced she had giardisis which requires antibiotic treatment)

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He complied. And it turned out she didn’t have it. We were stuck again waiting.  Waiting for her to be healed, but knowing that until something gave, we probably wouldn’t see that.  We just didn’t know how to get treatment or answers.

All of the up and down was really grating on me and all of the sickness was really starting to make me panic.  Even N, the ever calm one, was staring to worry about our sweet girl.

Finally after yet another bout of sickness, her doctor told us to once again follow the diet (which we’d already been doing) but even more strictly.  If she gets sick again in the next four days, I will refer her to a pediatric gastroenterologist, she said.

So when MG did, the doctor immediately got us an appointment.

We didn’t have to wait very long to see this doctor and we were pleasantly surprised when she instantly diagnosed MG with “delayed stomach emptying”.  Basically after a stomach bug, your body produces a high amount of acid for some time while it regulates (can be up to six months later).  That seems to be the root of her stomach aches.  The mucousy vomitting is probably caused by her intestines which aren’t fully healed and are reacting to certain foods.  So for the next three months we were to put her on a low-acid, low-fiber, low-fat, no gluten, no dairy diet.  (so what is she supposed to eat??)  The doctor did say that processed dairy was okay, like cheese and yogurt.  This was all MG heard and immediately began asking me if she could have cheese.

OKay, why not, I thought.  If this doctor said it was okay.  So I gave her a tiny amount with her lunch that day.

Sure enough, the next day she fell ill.

Well, we strictly adhered to the diet from that moment on and she didn’t become sick anymore!  She did complain of stomach aches some mornings and we remedied those with a homeopathic heart burn medication.

I thought we were in the clear until this past week.  The symptoms starting showing up and like clockwork, she became sick in the early morning hours.  Something must have snuck into her food.  That’s all we can figure.  But it is discouraging, as now, three months later, it is another set back.  And it means she isn’t as far along as I was hoping.  The way the doctor described it, I thought it owuld be temporary condition, but now I’m starting to have my doubts.  We go back at the end of Nobemebr, so I guess we will know more then.

She had amazed me with her discipline and strength.  Said someone to her at a restaurant, “how about a grilled cheese or a cheeseburger?!”  “No I can’t eat cheese.”  She has only had one breakdown, and it was over fries.  Fries are okay in moderation but this was just a few days after an incident and we had to watch everything, including her fat intake.  She just looked at me with her hand pressed to her eyes (I suppose in a vain attempt to keep from crying) and said, “but I really want French fries”.  And then cried quietly and bitterly for about fifteen minutes.  That’s about how long she needed to grieve and then she was able to move on.

A few times she has slipped up (like in SS we were old they were going to eat a snack but someone served frosted cookes).  At home she asked if it was okay she ate one.  It broke my heart that she has to think about this things and can’t enjoy her childhood, gifted cookies and all, to the fullest.  It definitely is impactful though when she pays the consequences for getting off track.  And it helps us and others realize this isn’t something in our heads.  We really don’t know what the doctor is going to say in November.  Last time we left with good news but we’ve had a few bleak moments since then and certainly by now I thought we would be mostly in the clear. Until then, however, we forge forward and pray for the best.

I truly admire your strength and discipline, MG.  you will grow beyond your years because of this

 

,-smk

MG and Updates

First of all, I’d like to take a quick second and apologize, so to speak, for my last post.  Even don’t enjoy reading that one.  It is obvious it was written out of a place of stress.  I’m over it now.  I nearly delated it about an hour after writing it over delayed embarrassment, but then realized all of you that subscribe already have a hard copy in your inbox.  It was pointless at that moment…so….

Moving on…

Today I’m not in that place of stress anymore, I’m just feeling a bit sad for my eldest.  Eleven months ago she was struck with some kind of severe stomach bug that did a number on her body and left her with what is a hopefully temporary, but still devastating in the moment condition, called gastroparesis.  I’ve alluded to it here and there but I don’t think I ever fully wrote out my feelings on the subject because well…I wasn’t really sure what to say.

Up until mid-July of last year, MG had a completely normal and healthy relationship with food.  I, myself, have some sensitivities and so I was always careful with her and things like gluten and dairy.  It seemed like a healthy enough balance that we wouldn’t keep gluten in the house, but to allow her to have things like Cheerios in the church nursery or cupcakes at a friend’s birthday.  Yogurt and cheese were commonplace in our house but she never really took to milk, and since I don’t care for it either, I never pushed it with her.  The only thing I noticed was that if she did not have gluten for a long time and then would eat it, she would break out around her mouth.  It seemed minor enough not to warrant a change in behavior but it was something I mentally took note of.

Fast forward to late July.  Our family went on a little vacation that month and we were exposed to a stomach bug.  MG got it first, but had just a minor reaction.  A couple days passed and I thought we were through with it.  But then…she got it again.  And then one by one we each contracted it, over the course of about two weeks with MG having relapses every few days.

I took her in to see a doctor after the third day of vomiting.  She reassured me that sometimes viruses can last up to two weeks in children and possibly MG became reinfected as we were passing it around to each other.

So it was put to bed for a few days.  And then, it struck her again.  Again I called her pediatrician.  She told me not to come in but to call if she wasn’t over it in a week.

A week felt like a lifetime to watch my little frail girl suffer again.  Not to be melodramatic but this week was literally one of the worst of my life.  On the days she would be sick, we would be awoken to MG vomiting in the bathroom (she nearly always made it to the toilet and it just made me weep to think this little 3 year old already knows how to drag herself to the toilet in the darkness of the early morning without even alerting us first).  This would come around 4-5am.  Then she would lay on the floor by the bathroom and sleep for another few hours.  She would want very little to eat for the day, maybe some toast and “fizzy drink”.  She would lay in her bed and watch Sleeping Beauty on repeat (it was one of the few children’s movies we owned and we didn’t have cable.  Later we wisened up and started checking out more movies from the library).  Too tired to play, she would sleep off and on throughout the day and then fall asleep exhausted in her bed at night.

The next day she would wake up, a little off, but fine and we would grow optimistic that the terrible illness that had her in its clutches was behind us.

And then 1-2 days later she would relapse and we would start the terrible cycle over again.

At the end of the week, I called the Ped and begged her to see us again.  She seemed rather surprised to see us and a little alarmed too.  She immediately referred us to a pediatric gastroenterologist and our appointment was just a few days later (I think at this point it was September).

I was very pleased when that Dr. immediately seemed to recognize the problem (we saw three other doctors over the course of that month and none of them could tell us anymore than  it was just a long-lasting virus). She diagnosed MG with “stomach-emptying syndrom” or gastroparesis and put her on a special diet.

When you have this condition, your stomach doesn’t clear food out as quickly as it does for someone in good health.  So you feel fuller more quickly, you are more prone to stomach upset and bugs, and you have to watch what you eat as high fats, high fiber, high acids, and dairy seem to set stomach aches on the mild end to vomiting and diarrhea on the more severe end.

The diet was pretty stringent and our whole family shifted to accommodate her while we adjusted to this change.  Eventually we added fiber and fat back into her diet, but in moderation or else she would get a stomach ache (still ongoing as of this month).  Dairy has been a constant issue ever since and will still set her off violently if she is exposed to it.

Unfortunately she has had two of these “violent” incidents since first meeting with that doctor back in September. The first one was because this doctor told us “processed dairy” like cheese and yogurt would be okay.  MG heard “cheese” and begged me for some for lunch (I had taken her off of it when the stomach bugs were reoccurring.  I conceded when the doctor said it was okay but we paid the price for it.)

The second time happened about a month later when I didn’t ask enough questions at a potluck and she was exposed to it again.  Both of these times brought me to my knees and after the second time especially made me strictly guard everything that went into her mouth.

We went back for a follow-up appointment in December and the Dr. seemed pleased with her progress and then dangled a little hope for us that maybe in 6 months we’d be able to reintroduce dairy, slowly.

Well here we are six months later.  MG has held onto this hope that after today she would be able to start eating cheese and yogurt again if nothing else.  It is amazing how much she picks up on as I never told her this would be a possibility nor tried to encourage it.

I’ve also been similarly pleased and a little heartbroken for her as she carefully tries to explain her “condition” to other kids.  “My doctor shut me off of dairy” she says confidently when trying to relate to other kids. Some mistake this for a sense of pride when she talks about it but I know that it is different.  There is a sense of sadness that I intone when she says this but at the same time, she is unwavering.

In fact, the only time I’ve ever seen her cry over it was after the very last incident.  We ratcheted down on her diet again to give her stomach time to heal.  We were out of town at the time and thankfully found a Chick-fil-a to eat lunch out (fast food places are nearly impossible on this diet).  I wouldn’t let her have ketchup to dip her grilled nuggets into because it is high in acid.  She broke down in the booth.  Not in an agressive temper tantrum, but in silent tears.  This was by far one of the lowest points for me.

Fast forward to last night.  As I was getting her ready for bed I explained that she was going  back to her doctor in the morning.  She was laying on her back and she pumped her arms and legs in the air and said, “I can’t wait to be on dairy again!”.  I tried to explain that the doctor might not give her the green light yet and even if she does, we would have to take it slow.

It was too late though, the hopeful seed was already planted.

This morning we saw the doctor and she asked the usual questions.  She seemed a bit concerned that MG hasn’t put on weight since December (and she is already on the slight side).  She asked us a lot of questions about her appetite and we addressed some concerns.  At the end, I could feel MG staring at me, waiting for me to ask the question.  I did.  The response was that dairy would not be a good idea at this point and probably not until she turns 5 or 6.

I waited until the doctor left and then looked at MG.  She asked me what that meant and I explained that we would have to stay away from dairy for a little longer.  “Like how long?”  “Until you get a little bit bigger, like 5 or 6.”

Her face fell and she got really quiet.  She said, “But that’s not fair.”

She was right, and I knew it.  And I could only agree with her.

So another year we will press forward of bringing “special” dairy free snacks to Sunday school and birthday parties, and always packing lunches for dinners out.  If I’m being honest, I’m mad that this is the way things are for her.  Four year olds should be able to eat whatever they want without having to worry about stomach aches and doctor visits and having something strange about them that sets them apart from their peers.

And she knows it too.  But that little frail one is pretty resilient (and she comes by it honestly).  And so we press on.

-smk

Striving

Welcome to my new blog!  I’ve made some exciting (for me) changes as of late.  The address is still the same (sweetmamak.com) but if you have my website bookmarked, you’ll probably need to re-do that with this address. 

If you want to receive all of my writings delivered to your email, enter it on the right sidebar.  (If you’ve already done so, check your email to make sure the move didn’t take that subscription away-sorry!)

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Life lately has been, well, hard to describe.

(disclaimer: I’m going to attempt to honestly lay out my current feelings below. No need to be concerned.  Just want to share in case others can relate)

Things have been hard.  It has felt like work.  There has been a cycle of good news and bad news that we just can’t seem to escape from (or has life always like this?  Sometimes I wonder if the mellow life I remember prior to becoming a mom actually existed.)  Good news for our family immediately preceded by bad news for our friends.  Excellent news for our friends immediately followed by a crushing blow for us. 

There has been a lot of rejoicing amidst mourning.

I’ve been scared a lot lately this year.  Like sick to my stomach, heavy cloak around me, scared.

There’s a special kind of fear that surrounds your children being sick.  I’ve become well-acquainted with that fear this year.

I’ve caught myself holding my breath, anxious for this week to be over, that news to be delivered, those situations to resolve.  And just when I exhale, it seems, a new sucker punch leaves me once again breathless.

I feel very unsettled.  Despite the work we’ve accomplished on the house, there is something about living amongst “projects” that messes with your psyche.  It is hard to find rest in something that constantly screaming you, “paint me!  decorate me!  finish me!”

My heart has been pushed closer to Heaven’s presence.  While I once looked around at the life I had amassed on earth and thought, “I am really going to miss this someday!”.  Now I find myself aching for the day when I no longer have to fear a stomach bug, when I won’t sleep restlessly over the fear of the unknown, where all of our relationships will be completely restored and we will never miss another’s presence.

As the days grow shorter and the cold seeps in, I dread the darkness.  The time change always comes unexpectedly and leaves me reeling for a bit. The trees and bushes look sad and shameful; their former glory amassed in piles around their feet.

Winter always carries a foreboding and melancholy feeling for me.  Will it be bitter and sick and long?  Will it close in on us and imprison us in our homes?  Will we crawl out from hibernation in April starved, blinking, and weary?

Today I found myself falling into a dark cycle after yet another round of illness.  I rallied my instincts and took the girls outside for an hour of play when the sun was still bright.  MG drew suns and skies with smiley faces.  I gulped the oxygen that had just a hint of winter in it and I’m going to try to make it last until April.

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And if it doesn’t?  Well you know where to find me.

-smk

Crappy Halloween

What could be better to a nearly four year old than free candy?  Wearing a princess “dress-up” out of the house!

 

Halloween actually meant something to MG this year. She doesn’t remember much from our life in our old neighborhood, but the flower costumes definitely made an impact on her.  This year, she finally figured out that she got to choose her costume and of course she was all over that.  “I want to be a Princess!” (without hesitation).  Well, which princess?  “I want to be Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel, and Elsa, and Snow White!  Can I do that, mommy?”

Ultimately she chose to be Elsa for our church’s harvest party and then selected Sleeping Beauty for Halloween night.  (funny side note:  she’s actually still not seen Frozen, but those darn princesses are EVERYWHERE and by now MG knows their names and the names of all the characters in the movie.  But when people would say catchphrases to her about the movie, she would have no idea what they were talking about!)

The Harvest Party/Nursing Home party both landed on Wednesday evening.  Unfortunately, Bea was running a slight fever that day which grew worse as the evening wore on.  I could tell she wasn’t feeling well when all she wanted to do was be held at the party.  I’m sure it had nothing to do with the costume either.

 

 

When we told MG that the party was at church she kept talking about her friends in her little Sunday school class. There are only two other friends in the class and she kept mentioning them by name saying, “I hope they like my dress” <batting eyes and all>.  She did run into one of those friends, who did indeed, like her dress 🙂

 

The next day, the same viral sickness that was making Bea miserable hit N like a ton of bricks.  So much so that he came home from work early (I think he’s done that once?) and slept the entire afternoon.  MG and I took turns tending to our sick patients.

Finally, it was Friday.  Bea seemed to be feeling a bit better and so did Daddy.  We did have plans to go hang out and do some trick or treating with friends (who live in a neighborhood, because we don’t live in a neighborhood anymore—weird!  And we didn’t have a single trick or treater this year—weird!!).  But due to the ongoing fever we decided to bow out, knowing I could just take MG to some local festivities.  I took Bea to the doctor in the morning just to rule out anything serious.  I let MG wear her costume to the office and for errands later since it was Halloween and all.  She was over the moon!

 

Later that day, during her quiet time she told me she was going to take a nap (which she rarely does and it is NEVER announced) so I thought, “great, she’ll be well rested for our fun tonight!”  I was so excited to wake her up and help her get into her costume which she had picked out hours before.  Only, she woke up with a fever and feeling terrible.  Shaky, achey muscles, no appetite, and all she wanted to do was lay down.  She even said, “I don’t think I want to trick or treat tonight!”.  How pitiful is that?

 

At least she got some candy from the previous parties and our neighbors said they would save her some treats too.

Admittedly, I’m starting to get frustrated at how sick we’ve been this year (and really in just the past three months) and how many fun things we’ve had to sacrifice because of it.

Here’s to hoping for healthy immune systems this winter!

-smk

Allow me a few words

to complain?

 

This awful sickness still has MG in its throes.  After 5 days of normal health (and for the most part, behavior), she woke up on Wednesday morning with another stomach ache and vomiting.  I can not believe this.

Thursday morning I took her into her pediatrician and came prepared with the lab results we’d had completed just a few days prior.  Nothing suspicious turned up as far as bacteria and/or parasites.  She seems to think it is still just a virus, taking its time working its way out.  (I’m not convinced, I have another theory, but it remains to be seen).

On Thursday she had awoken without pain and seemed hungry and normal.  It was nice to have my happy girl back, even if it was just for a day.  She kept asking me, “are we going to the doctor for ME??!”  Yes, for you.  “Thanks.”

And then early this morning she woke up to more vomiting and other symptoms.

I pleaded with N to take her into the ER, sure that my theory was correct and that she needed to get started on antibiotics.  But the ER doc shot my theory down based on his personal experience and recommended a continued “wait and see” approach along with another lab work-up.

 

I just can’t get over how long this has lasted (three full weeks), how draining it is (emotionally & physically), and how helpless I feel (I constantly rack my brain trying to come up with a solution or at least figure out what it is or what caused it).

I am so tired of trying to keep the girls quarantined, of the mountains of laundry, of scrubbing my hands raw, and of trying to come up with palatable meals that don’t involve lactose, red meat, raw vegetables, or fruit.  I’m tired of over-analyzing every rumble in my stomach, being home-bound (I miss just doing normal stuff!), being on a consistent schedule, hearing MG play dress-up and use her imagination.

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. (can you tell I’m feeling a little sorry for myself!?) Please, please, let this be the end of it.

-smk

I spoke

too soon.

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What costs

-7 pounds of human flesh

-the last day and a half of summer break

-a princess tea party you’ve been anticipating all summer, among other get-togethers planned with friends and family

-a night and a half of sleep?

Answer: something even probiotics, EO’s; activated charcoal; cleanses; local honey; vigorous hand-scrubbing and laundrying; and homemade chicken soup (made with homemade chicken stock) can’t defeat.

Yes, Mama’s down for the count starting early yesterday morning.  As of this morning, MG is on her fourth round.  We are taking her into the doctor today.  So discouraged, tired, weak.  Please pray for us.

SOS,

-smk

Today

things are looking much brighter

she hasn’t complained about pain once today.

Last night Daddy kept vigil

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and it was the first thing she wanted to talk about in the morning.  “Daddy slept next to me so I wouldn’t be scared.  After he took a bath.” (shower…semantics)

And this cute picture

makes me sad when I remember my sweet, tired, patient yesterday.  All the excitement wiped them right out.

Thanks to all who have checked in, prayed, and brightened our day with little notes and gifts!