We were given the option of leaving the hospital or being admitted. I had a clear preference for leaving. My options were to stay at teh hospital and not sleep in a chair or to go back to our cabin and not sleep while lying in bed (or is it laying in bed?). Either way, we were headed back to the hospital at 11 am the following day, so we might as well go home and try to rest (and maybe locate a granola bar and a piece of toast). We were given instructions to push fluids and not worry about food at all. Fluids were key (I already knew this but hearing it from doctors reminded me to tell everyone else to leave him alone about the food and stop pestering the poor, sick kid to eat...get him to drink though, OK).
It was after 11 o'clock now. The automatic sprinklers were on at the hospital even though the ground was very wet from the rain. It was clammy out. Chick-chick-chick-chick-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch went the sprinklers. We drove back to our cabin and were greeted by the in-laws who wanted to visit. I was tired, Chuckles was tired, it was late. I finally said to Chuckles, "Grandma and Grandpa are sorry they have to leave but they'll see you in the morning." Subtle, eh?
Overnight, he woke up and I gave him his usual cup of milk. He'll often take 5 or 6 ounces overnight if I let him (did I mention he still wakes up at night frequently?...I think I have mentioned that). This night, he took three sips and just sat there holding the cup. I tried to put him back in his bed, but he'd have nothing to do with it. I took him to bed with me and he slept until 6:30 in the morning.
Morning came and he wouldn't drink. I gave him formula, soy milk, water, lemonade, pedialyte, random mixtues of things he might like. Anything. He drank nothing. As it was a beautiful day, I decided to take him for a paddle boat ride to change the scenery. He didn't want to go, but once we were on teh water, he was fine with it. He was wearing long sleeves, pants, and a hat, and life jacket. I kept him in the bay. I heard through the rumor mill when I returned after less than a half hour that my father-in-law just kept saying how irresponsible that was because Chuckles might get a chill or get some wind in his ears. Ok, he has a high fever. And it was a iny bit breezy, but unless the breeze was going to blow up his rear end and infect him, I didn't see the harm.
At 11 am, we returned to the hospital to follow up with the most amazing, caring, wonderful doctor person I have ever met-and she had excellent clinical skills as well as bedside manner. I want her to be my new pediatrician. She would not come home with us. Something about having a life already there. blah blah blah. Doesn't she know I need her? She's an osteopath physician which is a real doctor. They do surgery and prescribe drugs and everything. I think the only difference is their philosophy of treating the whole patient (and maybe even teh patient's family). Before I even get into the visit with her, I want to say again how great she was. She gave us her office number, her pager, her cell, and when we called the office, they put her right on the phone...no talk to a medical assistant first, no leave a message and we'll call you back, nothing. They went and got her and put her on teh phone. Amazing. Perhaps things are just more laid back in teh Northwoods. Or maybe she is the best doctor in teh history of forever. If you live in North Central Wisconsin, let me know and I'll refer you to her.
We sat down and wait for about 10 seconds before she came in. She asked us how teh night went. She examined Chuckles (who had fallen asleep on my lap again). She immediately said that looking at him, she was sure he had a bacterial infection of some sort even though the labs did not indicate that. She also said that he should not have been this sick for this long (a week at this point). She asked if we'd like to give him a shot of antibiotics or give him oral antibiotics. At this point, he would not take anything by mouth at all and when he did, he'd vomit, so we begged for the shot and as I was about to ask about tylenol suppositories, she said they could give him a suppository in teh office to help bring the fever down (and she personally demonstrated teh technique for holding it in there until it dissolved...she didn't even have a nurse do that). And she gave us samples of suppositories, chewables and different flavors of liquids. She said to give him whichever one he would take. It's all the same dose so it doesn't matter as long as they are taking it. She also gave us popsicles, although Chuckles was uninterested.
Then, she got tough but fair. She asked if we were camping or staying in a travel trailer. We said, no. She asked if we were in a hotel without a kitchen, no again. We were staying in a small cottage/cabin. No A/C but kitchen, heat, and hot and cold running water. She said if we were camping or in a hotel, she was going to put Chuckles in teh hospital because it is too hard to care for such an ill child under those circumstances. She also said that if he were in teh hospital, she would have him on an IV of approximately 2 ounces per hour, 24 hours per day and without the IV, it was our job as parents to get an equivalent amount of fluid into him. So, since we hoped he would sleep at night, it worked out to about 3 ounces an hour during waking hours. She gave us syringes and told us to play "squirt guns" into the mouth, she gave us medicine cups and said to play "tea party". I had brought colored straws and straw cups, so we coudl try that too. Experiment. Get him to drink. Positive reinforcement when he did drink. She would call us in the morning to find out how we did and if we couldn't get the fluid in him, into the hospital he'd go. There were several conditions she gave us where we were to rush him back immediately as well.
The nurse came and gave him the shot. The doctor gave us some samples of other kinds of diaper cream to try on teh rash and a script for antibiotics.
So, we set off for the nearest Walgreens with our instructions and a sense of purpose about our lives. Our goal was to keep our baby out of the hospital and to get him well.
He took a long nap (over 2 hours) when we got back to the cabin, and all I kept thinking was "Now I am 6 ounces behind on the water consumption". We marked each of his cups with ounce markings and a permanent marker. We set up a chart with 50, and each ounce he drank, we crossed it off and changed the number. Diarrhea diapers meant we had to add one ounce to the total number of ounces to be consumed. At one point, I was hours into it, and we still had 51 ounces to go. It was maddening. And then, something wonderful happened.
Chuckles asked to drink out of Grandma's giant cup with bendy straw. And when he took a sip, we all clapped and said, "Yay!!!" Then we said, "Show Grandpa, he didn't see it." And Chuckles drank and Grandpa clapped. Then we walked him around the resort and had him repeat this for every person we saw. Everyone knew we'd been at the hospital, so they were all in on it with us. Even the other kids knew and they asked him to show them how he drank from a straw and they clapped. We did this drink-clap-drink-clap-drink-yay thing for about four hours. He drank 8 ounces. It was heaven, but it still wasn't enough. I was inserting tylenol suppositories every 4 hours and the fever was way down, but he still wasn't drinking enough and we still weren't sure why he was so sick. All the tests were negative.
Dinner came and went and bath time and drink-clap-yay. It was time for bed with stories and a cup and that went well. There was a message on teh cell phone. It was Dr. Fabulously-Wonderful calling to tell us that she didn't know what it was, but something was growing in his blood cultures. Stick with the antibiotics and she'll call when she knows more. I actually felt relief. We still didn't know what it was, but we knew he had something and something can be treated. Unkown is very hard to deal with.
We called her in the morning. We had to report that we only got him to drink 36 ounces, but his fever was down under 100. She said with the fever down so much, he no longer needed 50 ounces and 36 was just fine, keep teh fluids up, stick with the antibiotics. She thought it looked like a secondary E. Coli infection in his blood, but she wanted to be sure so she could get the right antibiotic to him. My husband asked me how our perfect little toddler could contract E. Coli and I said that his butt was bleeding and sitting in his own fecal matter. I can see how E. coli could enter the bloodstream this way. Sure we clean diapers soon after they are dirtied, but there was still contact with an open wound.
Wednesday morning she called to check on us. The lab results were in. Chuckles (and I as well who at this point was still quite sick) had salmonella. She switched antibiotics on us to get something that would work better and told us to give these to him and follow up with our pediatrician. She also told us she had to report this to the health department because they like to track these things.
I immediately called a friend back in Chicago because I was so relieved and she had been living all of this with me. She was my vent. I hope I someday can repay teh favor to her. I kept thinking, "how did this happen?" Sure, we had Veggie Booty in the house that had been recalled for salmonella, but it had been a week before we got sick since we had eaten it. I figured that's where we got it though. I went to Walgreens again to fill the new script and the power went out (4 times). Then, my cell rang. It was my friend in Chicago. Power went out and the phone dropped the call.
My friend called me back shortly reading a news story off of the internet about how 17 people were sickened with salmonella after eating hummus at the Taste of Chicago. Wait, we ate hummus at the Taste. We fell ill within 24 hours of attending the Taste over a week earlier. We were 18 and 19. We were famous.
As of right now (Tuesday, 3 pm), The Tribune reports:
More than 500 people have reported becoming ill after eating food from the Pars
Cove booth, according to the Chicago Department of Health. Health officials
have confirmed that at least 50 of those cases were caused by salmonella
poisoning and at least 17 people were hospitalized.
I have no idea whether we are included in those numbers. Chuckles is lab-confirmed. I sent my samples in today (and that thing they gave me to collect my samples is not a sombrero-do not put it on your head). We have been reported to health departments in three states (WI, IN, IL).
As soon as the medical bills are done coming in, I get to write a strongly-worded letter demanding medical bills and some unspecified amount for pain and suffering, et al. I'm sure I'm not the only one.
Chuckles can now give himself his antibiotic. He knows how to put the syringe in his mouth and push teh plunger. He still has diarrhea though. It's been two weeks. Fever is gone. Vomiting has stopped. He gained back a little of the weight, although I did pull some of last summer's shorts out for him as his clothes were literally falling off of his body. No droopy drawers for my boy.
I am recovering physically. I sent my sample to the lab today and went to my doctor. I'll know in a few days if I still have salmonella or not. I still have the lingering effects, but I am eating yogurt like a crazy person. Emotionally though, this has been pretty rough on me. I know it's not all about me. He is the sick one, but I am scarred for life from this. And my mother-in-law agrees. She said she rememebers everything, including the names of the paramedics, about the time my husband had febrile seizures as an infant. However, of all things, this has made me want another baby. The love I have for Chuckles is strong and I guess I just want more of that.
My husband asked his boss yesterday if he could have a "do-over" on our vacation, errr, "vacation". The first half was deathly sick, and the second half was cold, rainy and windy (and our cabin was not winterized).
By the way, why was a lack of snot, diarrhea, and vomiting OMINOUS FORESHADOWING? Because he was too dehydrated to make mucus, poop, or vomit, that's why. And his lips were deflated and his eyes were sunken into his head, but I guess I didn't notice until they plumped him back up with fluids.