Aug 16, 2015: Sickness and Death

Okay, this blog isn’t quite as morbid as the title makes it sound, but it certainly has been a week of sickness and demise around here!

Let’s start with the deaths, since they’re a little less dire (oddly enough!). This week my iPhone died (again!), our dishwasher died (wahhhhh!), and we found a large dead rat in our backyard (well, actually Zoe found it—thank you, Zoe. I don’t think she killed it; she just discovered it). But the iPhone has been replaced (thank you, Apple Store!), the dishwasher should eventually get fixed (thank you, home warranty, even though your service is slow!), and the rat has been disposed of (I really wanted to take a picture of Chris attempting to load the carcass onto a shovel, but he wouldn’t have appreciated it). And hopefully that is the end of death around here.

So on to the sickness! I was very bummed, because Grandma Diane was supposed to finally come see our house, but then sickness struck! For a variety of scheduling reasons, Grandma Diane hasn’t been able to see our house yet, and I’ve been itching to show it to her! But obviously we don’t want her getting sick, so…we had to postpone.

The illness started with Luna, though that didn’t affect Grandma Diane. And really, Luna isn’t sick—just old. She’s been getting more tentative on her hind legs for quite some time, but in the few days before we went on vacation, it got considerably worse. And our petsitter texted me while on vacation and said, “You need to get her to the vet when you get home. She needs arthritis medicine for those hips.” Indeed. So the day after we returned, I took her into the vet. And as the petsitter suspected, it was indeed arthritis in her hips. On the bright side, the vet said she’s in remarkably good shape for a 12-year-old pug otherwise—usually elderly pugs are quite overweight, which causes health issues, and she’s trim and very healthy. The only noticeable problem is arthritis/dysplasia in her hips. So, she is now on (expensive—eek!) daily medicine for her hips that should allow her to live out her days in comfort. It’s hard on her liver, but facing it honestly, her days are numbered anyway. I’d just like her to live out the rest of her life comfortably. It’s that sticky time in a dog’s life where you don’t want to end it too soon, but you also don’t want her to suffer. Luna doesn’t appear to be suffering—she still walks by choice every day, up and down the stairs, to and from her food and water, out in the backyard, etc. When she reaches the point where she no longer wants to try to walk, then I’ll know it’s time to let her go. But at this point, I feel like because she’s in otherwise good health and appears to still be in reasonable comfort, I just want to manage the pain in her hips and let her continue to live out her days. She seems to be living an overall happy existence right now, so we’ll keep her going until that no longer seems to be the case.

I got home from the vet just in time to help put the boys down to bed. Sam was cheery and sweet, having had a big day back at school and at his swim lesson. Theo was a bit uncomfortable, but he has been for several weeks (more on that in a moment). So in general, all was well.

Then, three hours later, Sam woke up wailing. That was unusual—Sam rarely wakes up in the night now. But that night he did…twice. With fever. Uh oh. And Theo had a fever again, too. Theo’s been fighting fevers on and off for three weeks, so I wasn’t terribly surprised with Theo, but Sam’s was new.

So I kept Sam home from school, and we postponed Grandma Diane’s visit. Sam refused to take Motrin to bring down his fever (which was hovering anywhere between 101 and 103…so high enough to be uncomfortable for him, but not dangerously high), so he was pretty miserable. Theo was okay…just a low fever and abdominal pain, which he’d been having for weeks. Theo had actually been to the doctor the day before and had a ton of bloodwork when I finally went back in and said, “Something is not right—he keeps getting fevers and complaining of abdominal pain, and he’s lost 2.5 pounds in a little more than two weeks! He eats a few bites and then says his stomach hurts!” And Sam had this really weird cough, the likes of which he’s never had before. It wasn’t croup—he’s had that many times, so we’re familiar. It also didn’t sound like whooping cough. It was just a weird, choking cough where he seemed like he couldn’t breath, and then he’d spit up a bunch of saliva. Ewwww. And he was covered in a lovely rash. Awesome.

So we put the boys to bed Tuesday night…and then the results from Theo’s bloodwork came into my email box. (We get them via email when they come from the regular doctor—but not if they are run in the emergency room, which figures into this equation later.) Many were normal, but the ones showing inflammation were high—and the one for mycoplasmic pneumonia was positive. Pneumonia?! But he had no cough, no sore throat, no respiratory gunk, no nothing! I was baffled, so I called the advice line and questioned the results and explained that I was concerned because Sam was also sick and pneumonia can get really bad really fast for children with DS.

The advice doctor agreed with me and said it was better to be safe than sorry with Sam—he said we should take him into the ER (because it was the only thing open) to make sure his lungs were clear, and as long as we were going in, we might as well bring Theo to get him started on antibiotics, too.

So we woke up the boys, not 20 minutes after putting them to bed, and headed to the ER. Luckily, we were seen very quickly. They quickly determined that Sam did not have pneumonia, but his upper airway was a bit swollen, which might have accounted for the strange cough, so they gave him a steroid shot to open it up and ease his breathing. They also swabbed for strep and whooping cough. And they decided that Theo did not have respiratory pneumonia, because he has absolutely no signs of it. Instead, as best they can tell, the same bacteria that causes pneumonia has settled in his abdominal tract, and that’s why he’s been having gut pain and running low fevers on and off for weeks. Because it’s already been going for three weeks, they recommended just letting it run its course and said he’s most likely no longer contagious. And so we went on our merry way, with Sam being diagnosed with “some respiratory virus” and Theo being diagnosed with an abdominal pneumonia of sorts. Okey dokey.

Wednesday was a long day for Sam. Theo was fine to go to day camp, being noncontagious. (Well, he also has impetigo, brought on by the fevers, but he’s on antibiotic cream for that, so he’s not contagious.) But Sam just had a miserable day, being unwilling to take Motrin and having cool baths have absolutely no effect on his fever. Sigh…

Thursday…the day of the dead iPhone…before the phone died I got an early-morning call from Kaiser telling me that Sam had tested positive for strep and I needed to get him on antibiotics right away. “Really?” I said. “He was in the hospital two nights ago—it took this long to get those results?”

“Oh no!” they said. “You should’ve had those yesterday! They only take 24 hours! No one called you? I’m so sorry. You could’ve picked up medication yesterday if someone had called you!”

Wonderful. So the poor kid suffered for another day, needlessly. I was not pleased. I know, I know…mistakes happen. But my poor kid was miserable! By this point, he wouldn’t talk or really respond to much, and pretty much all he’d do was sit up on his own. Wah!

They told me the prescription would be ready in a couple of hours, so I dragged the poor sick kid down to the Apple Store to replace my dead phone, and then we picked up his prescription. I realize that sounds terrible, but we have no landline, so my iPhone is my only means of communication. I was afraid if Sam suddenly took a turn for the worse (or if Theo suddenly got really sick at camp) and I was without a phone…well, it could be disastrous. (Chris was in the office, so it wasn’t as if I had his phone on hand for emergency use.) So I needed to get that handled. Luckily, Sam snuggled in the Ergo and just whined pitifully for the 75 minutes it took. Poor kid felt too punky to do anything else.

But, we got the prescription, and by evening he was much improved. By the next day, even more so. And now, a few days later, he’s back to normal except just slightly more easily tired than usual. Hooray! Just in time for Chris to be possibly felled by it….

Actually, I’m not sure about Chris. He has a slight fever and sore throat, so Kaiser started him on a prescription just to be safe. It’s possible he’s just having allergies (he has no white patches in his throat, and he’s actually very cheerful and surprisingly energetic), but given we had one case of strep in the house and Chris has a very busy workweek, they felt it better to be safe and just get him started, since his hit on a Sunday and there weren’t any doctors available to take a swab other than at urgent care. Plus, Grandma Diane is supposed to come visit Monday, and this way he will be noncontagious by then if he DOES have it.

Luckily, Theo and I seem to have been spared! I’m surprised Theo didn’t get it, given his weakened immune system right now, but he hasn’t. Whew! He is continuing to improve, too. He can now eat half a piece of toast or some soup without his tummy hurting, so that’s progress!

So…yeah. That’s pretty much our week. I’m sorry there wasn’t really anything fun to report! We did take the boys to a splash park for a bit on Saturday, but not for long because it was ungodly hot. And today (Sunday), I am taking the boys to Theo’s friend Gavin’s birthday party while Chris rests. It’s again going to be ungodly hot, but at least it’s a swim party!

Wish us luck that this is the end of the illness and death here in the Small household!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *