Monday, March 24, 2008

House of Bugs

One of the trickier aspects of being a parent to Mihret is that she’s not a terribly fussy baby.

I’m sure there are parents out there who are displeased at my choice of words – folks with colicky kids, or kids that scream at every little injury, or kids who just like to scream because it’s kinda fun. What can I say? I’m sorry your kid is a screamer. I have my own challenges.

The thing about being Mihret’s daddy is that if something is “wrong” with her, she’s not real big on providing clues as to just what the problem might be.

Case in point – since getting home, Mihret developed something of a perma-cold. She’d get over a cold that she got at day care, and then two days later her nose would be running again. This would not be so bothersome if, like every other toddler on the planet, she didn’t get mad when you tried to wipe her nose.

The problem with all these “colds” is this – after some of them, Mihret would suddenly have a new tooth.

So then we were stuck with the obvious question: Did Mihret new tooth cause the runny nose? Or was it a cold?

We still have no idea.

Last week, Mihret’s nose started to run a lot. She did some sneezing, and some coughing, and on a couple of nights woke up crabby and needing a bottle. So we started to suspect she was getting a cold.

Then came the drooling. The buckets and buckets of liquid running down her chin, the biting of everything in sight… so we thought, well, I guess she’s teething.

I like our day care a lot, and they, like most day cares, try to be pretty strict in the sickness area. If your kid has anything other than a mild cold, they don’t want them around, for obvious reasons.

So I tried to be honest. “I dunno what’s up,” I would say, as I dropped her off. “She might have a cold, or she might be teething. Call me if something is wrong, I guess…”

The all voted teething.

But there were outside elements this time. On Tuesday, Kara went to the doctor and found out she had a sinus infection. This marks the third time in three months that she’s on antibiotics. And I wasn’t feeling so good myself – my throat had a mild scratch to it that kept making me cough.

It didn’t really bother me as the day would go on. It was more of a mild annoyance. But I’ve had these symptoms before, and it was always a sinus infection.

Then came Saturday, the day where Mihret just decided that she was not happy, in general. She usually naps around noon or one, but she absolutely refused to go down for a nap until three.

And then there was the crying. She’d be going along, totally happy, and then there would be eye rubbing. This is baby for “I need a nap now,” but when Kara and I would try to put her down, she would scream and cry and in general accuse us of trying to put her down for a nap when she CLEARLY was not ready for a nap.

Kara was worried that Mihret was getting a sinus infection. And then there was the screaming.

Mihret woke up from the nap she finally took, and she was inconsolable. We had given her six ounces of milk only an hour earlier, so Kara thought there was no way she was hungry.

I figured I’d try giving her some water. So I put some in a bottle and offered it. She sucked for a second, then resumed screaming.

Now, I don’t like water, personally. I think it’s flavorless and bland and uninteresting as a beverage, and I will generally consume it if it is the only option given to me. And I guess the kiddo felt the same way, because when I replaced the water with milk, she calmed down.

Mihret drank all her milk and then went back to screaming.

If you’re a parent, you know that this is where all communication between parents breaks down. I figured she was hungry. Kara figured that something was seriously wrong.

So I opted to call Nurse Direct while Kara offered food.

It was apparently a busy day, as I was stuck on hold.

At the same time, Kara offered snacks to Mihret – who immediately calmed down. She was just REALLY hungry.

So despite the fact that it wasn’t even five, we opted to go ahead and give Mihret dinner while I sat on hold. And sat on hold, and sat on hold.

I was stuck in something of a trap. Mihret had been coughing and sneezing, yes. She had also been very upset , and she felt a little warm and had the mildest of mild temperatures. So, was I wasting my time on hold? Should I just leave a message? Or should I wait for however long for a nurse to come on the line and tell me what to try?

The sad truth about taking care of sick kids under two is that there is nothing you can do for them, really. Older kids can have chicken soup, maybe lie around watching TV or reading, and you can even give ‘em stuff to unclog their noses and get rid of their cough.

With kids under two, most of the things they have you do seem to sorta-kinda work, but not really.

Case in point – raise the mattress on one side. Okay, I get it. This will help the fluids drain. Unless your kid, like my kid, spends their sleep time in totally bizarre configurations that you didn’t leave them in when you lay them down and shut off the lights. I put Mihret down on her back, and then I get up in the morning and she’s crammed in a corner, asleep on her hands on knees.

Clearly, a raised mattress won’t help.

Plus, she can stand up now. So there’s the possibility of head injury when she discovers that one side of the crib is higher than the other. Pass.

So I sat on hold, waiting to hear the following: “Well, keep giving her fluids. Water-down juice, for example. And get her a humidifier. And some Baby Tylenol, but don’t overmedicate.”

And then I got off hold, and the nice nurse told me all the stuff I already knew.

In this case, the straw that broke the camel’s back was Kara. After an hour-long coughing jag running from two to three AM (while the baby, who had been cranky most of the afternoon, slept peacefully) she called Nurse Direct and was instructed to take her “emergency” inhaler for her asthma. Thus, she finally got to sleep.

And thus, we both got up on Sunday, totally exhausted.

I could feel that my sinuses were plugged.

Kara was worried that her illness had moved to her lungs.

And the baby had a mildly runny nose.

These three somewhat lame elements combined were just enough to make us all take a family trip to the doctor, on Easter Sunday.

At the end of the morning, it was determined that:

I had a sinus infection. Not a shock, really.

Kara’s infection hadn’t moved to her lungs – she was just having some asthma trouble, so she got some steroids to take. Apparently, they can cause “irritability.” Kara SMASH!

Mihret has… an ear infection. Which she didn’t get from us. And, because I am trying to be a good parent and this is her second ear infection since coming home, I asked if she was building up crud from not getting bathed well enough. Because I give the baths in this household.

And the doc said, “Nope. It comes from inside. Not your fault. Nothing you can do. Here’s some antibiotics and a syringe.”

So, we all journeyed home, and eventually we all got some medication for our various ailments.

But Kara and I learned a valuable lesson. In the event that our child is cranky, she may have an ear infection. Or a mild cold. Or a fever. Or it might be teething. Or she might be hungry. Or thirsty for something other than water, because water is boring and doesn’t taste very good. So I’m sure that will prove very helpful. Or not.

-Josh

1 comment:

jessica said...

When it rains it pours! :D Its been a while since all of us have been sick at once....

Keep an eye on the ear infections... if they don't ever really clear up, the remaining ear goo behind the drum starts to get thicker and thicker ending in poor hearing, bad speech.