My kids are rarely sick. When Hannah was six years old she had a bad case of what we thought was the flu. She ended up severely dehydrated and in the hospital with fluids pumped into her veins for over twelve hours. (She ended up testing positive for lyme disease…) That was a scary night.
When Patrick was fifteen months old he dislocated his elbow twice in one week. The first time, I was trying to figure out what was wrong, and managed to pop it into place completely by accident. The second time was worse and we had to make a trip to the ER to fix him up-which they wouldn’t do until he had x-rays to check for breaks. He was in pain and screaming and that was just heartbreaking.
And the there was Willow’s accident prone phase, but other than that I don’t have much experience with illness. They go to the doctor so infrequently that when I took them last week for strep throat, the kids had no idea where we were going and didn’t remember the building.
Just before dinner last night, I was fastening Patrick’s jeans and noticed spots on his belly. The spots were small, flat and red. They were on most parts of his body, and seemed to be spreading. I then remembered that the night before he had been in tears because his hip was hurting. When I coupled that with his complaints earlier that his heart was hurting, I got a little nervous. He had strep throat last week. And I remembered reading that strep throat could lead to rheumatic fever and heart problems.
I called the doctor’s office, and the doctor on call was also concerned when he heard about the hip/heart pain and rash. He asked us to meet him at the emergency room. By the time we got there, his rash had started spreading and I could actually watch the spots popping up on his skin. You can see the progression of the rash here.
The doctors weren’t sure what it was. They thought maybe just a reaction of some sort, but were also concerned about the hip/heart pain. I had been giving Patrick his meds on time every day, but the last couple of days I had become lackadaisical about it and so the doctor lectured me on the proper use of medication. She got in my face and asked if I knew why it was important to take all doses of antibiotics. I was flustered because she put me on the spot and I could only muster an “Uhhh….” she was really aggressive and pointing her finger in my face as she explained that it could damage his heart.
Then she told me that they wanted Patrick to have a shot of antibiotics, which would cover the rest of his meds and be the first step for Rheumatic Fever anyway. They also wanted him to have an EKG. Patrick was upset about the shot and worried that it would hurt. So the doctor asked if he would like her to pinch him to show him what it would feel like. He nodded and she pinched him… Hard enough to leave a blue mark that immediately began to swell up. She then left the room and he sat there with trembling chin, staring at the mark. (This picture was taken this morning. She left a bruise.) The pinch continued to hurt for the hour and half we waited for the shot. It left him anxious and MORE scared than if we had told him “yes it will hurt, but only for a little while.” It was like a constant reminder that he was about to get a shot and it would HURT!
Eventually, they administered it. That was awful. I thought it would be a small shot, not a BIG HONKING needle. It felt like it took forever to get it all in him. He was trying to be brave but crying because it hurt so bad. The nurse came back with stickers, popsicles, and ice packs. I kept him entertained with stories and jokes as we watched the people in the room around us. The EKG came back normal, and we were free to go home and make an appointment with the doctor to follow up and figure out what this is.
Before we left, the doctor came back to talk to us. When she found out we homeschool, she told me she thought we might be, because Patrick is so inquisitve and well spoken. She went on to say that when we first arrived, she had judged me unfairly. (Hmm. Maybe she saw an overweight woman without adequete health insurance and a kid who didn’t finish his meds… Which I’m sure declared me a fat, lazy, welfare mom- or something equally awful in her mind) She apologized to me, and said that she could tell from listening to us talk that I am “a loving and attentive mother that wouldn’t be flippant about my child’s health.”
I was speechless. Then she asked Patrick if the shot hurt as much as the pinch. He just looked at her and shook his head. I took this opportunity to explain to her that what she did had made him MORE scared and anxious about the shot. I showed her the bruise and was about to start telling her off, but she stopped me and apologized. She was upset, because that is how she explains the shot to ALL the kids that come in. She said she wouldn’t do it anymore, and asked me what I thought she should do instead. I almost fell over. When does a doctor ever admit they made a mistake? I was very impressed by that.
This morning, Patrick seems to be ok but for the rash, which is getting worse. It has spread to his fingers, toes, face and earlobes. I can actually watch the spots getting bigger and redder. You can watch them pop up on his skin. It is freaking me out quite a bit. He is starting to get itchy so we are doing oatmeal baths. The huz and I are wondering if the whole thing is a reaction to his antibiotics, the ones he was taking for strep throat and now made worse by the mega shot last night. Which is scary, but way better than any of the “fevers” which could damage his heart. I called the doctor, he has an appointment first thing tomorrow morning. They no longer think Rheumatic Fever because the rash is now itchy.
I hate not knowing. People are suggesting everything from scarlet fever to measles, chicken pox to antibiotics reaction. This sucks. I’m worried about my little guy. I hope he starts feeling better soon.