Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Something's Gotta' Give

(WARNING! This post not for the faint of heart.)

***Actually posted at 9:28am on January 18th. I'm not sure why the time stamp reads yesterday at 4:28pm. I was knee deep in diarrhea diapers and toddler vomit at that time. On with the post...***

If pediatricians offered frequent flier miles, my family would currently be on its way to Fiji, then to Europe, a quick stop in New York, and back home....FIRST CLASS! Yes, we've logged a lot of hours at the pediatrician lately, and something has GOT to give here.

It all started December 29th when Emma came down with a fever and bad cold which turned into an ear infection 7 days later. This occasion marked our first trip to the dr. from which we returned with a 10 day dose of Amoxicilin for otitis media (middle ear infection w/ fluid). Two days later, we were in the dr's office again with Nicky who was also given antibiotics for the same ear infection. Two days after this visit, and two somewhat sleepless nights on Nicky's (and my) part, we were BACK at the pediatrician only to find out that his ear infection was not responding to the antibiotic at all and that he would now require antibiotics by injection. Two pokes later and we were on our way home, only to return in two more days for the follow up shots. In the meantime, Emma was progressing nicely on her own course of antibiotics, her infection obviously responding to the therapy. Monday marked her last day of a 10 day dose. I administered her medicine and put her to bed at 7:30pm. At 12:45am, she awoke vomiting violently. This went on EVERY 20 minutes until 8:15am at which point it slowed to vomiting every 40 or 50 minutes. Finally, 7 loads of laundry and many unsuccessful attempts to hydrate later, she fell asleep at 9:45am dehydrated and exhausted. She awoke an hour and fifteen minutes later vomiting again. But at least at this point, the intervals between these episodes were getting longer, so I was becoming hopeful that we were out of the woods. I should've known better.

I feel compelled to mention here that while Emma is expelling every possible fluid from her body, Nicky is suffering from a mild but annoying case of diarrhea brought on by his antibiotics.

Anyway, at 2:15pm the day after the night-o'-exorcism-pea-soup-revisited we found ourselves at the pediatrican again. At this point, the nurses and receptionists know us and our children by first name, despite the fact that the practice services upwards of 500 patients or more. As predicted, Emma was diagnosed with moderate dehydration and acute gastroenteritis. Oh, and her ear hasn't completely cleared up yet. Nicky, who we brought in tow figuring, "What the hell, we're going anyway, we might as well bring him and get his ear checked and tell them about the diarrhea," was also diagnosed with acute gastroenteritis since his diarrhea had now worsened. Oh, and his ear is still infected too. Fabulous. The doctor, a very sweet woman with an incredibly warm and kind bedside manner, sent us on our way warning us that if Emma exhibited any more signs of dehydration or wasn't able to keep fluids down by 6pm, she would have to be admitted to the hospital for hydration therapy. Great.

So, home we went, praying for a wet diaper and her stomach to calm itself enough to keep down a couple of teaspoons of pedialyte. Over the next 3 hours, I fed her 1 teaspoon of fluids every 15 minutes by medicine dropper. She kept it all down until 6:15. But by then, she'd had one slightly wet diaper and had gone 3 straight hours without vomiting. So, according to the doctor's criteria, she wasn't hospital bound yet. Thank God.

In the meantime, Nicky managed to soil about 6 diapers and 3 pairs of pants in 3 hours. This, in and of itself, is of course no big deal. However, when coupled with a vomiting toddler who refuses to aim for the designated bowl for fear of having to see the contents of her stomach in front of her face, makes for a harrowing evening of figuring out who to attend to more immediately.

Anyway, the evening wore on, and we managed to get Nicky to sleep, and eventually Emma. Both slept through the night. Emma woke up looking less gray, and Nicky woke up looking more so. So, yesterday was Nicky's turn. Obviously, his diarrhea-due-to-antibiotic had turned into diarrhea-due-to-Emma. We were now changing diapers, 2 or 3 at a time, approximately 2 minutes after giving him a bottle. It went something like this: bottle, 2 minutes goes by, diaper change, followed by diaper change, followed by 2 or 3 more for the next 30 minutes. And throughout it all, he appeared listless, exhausted, and dehydrated. Great.

Meanwhile, Emma was slowly sipping away at her pedialyte cocktail on the sofa, watching television, and now I was SURE we were out of the woods with her. Shhaaa! Right! She went through the day, only vomiting twice, consuming a bit of banana, a half piece of toast, and about 20 oz. of fluids. Despite her limited intake, she looked 50% better. (see below)

I should also mention that Doug is working the 2nd shift at the moment which has him "on the job" from 5pm to 3am. The night that Emma got sick, he was up with me, doing laundry and helping all night. Neither of us slept. So, needless to say, the next day, he took the night off due to exhaustion. No one needs or wants a cop walking around with his loaded weapon, falling asleep while trying to keep peace. It was a safety call on his part, and a good one since both of us crashed after Emma fell asleep at 8pm. Anyway, the next night, when Emma appeared to be getting better, Doug decided he'd better go into work. So, he left the house at 4pm. That's when all hell broke loose yet again.

At 4:15 (as Murphy's law would have it), Nicky started having another bout of diarrhea. I managed to get some rice cereal in him which seemed to slow things down a bit, only to have them pick up again while he was IN THE BATHTUB! Yup. That was a lot fun. I'll spare you the fabulous details and just say that by 6:15 he was in bed with a little pedialyte in his belly, and on his way to sleep.

After scouring and bleaching the tub, Emma was then bathed and in her own bed at 7pm. Drained, I went into my room to fold one of the 15 loads of laundry I've done in the last 48 hours and settle into some bad reality tv. At 8:15, I was beckoned by the familiar coughing wretch that preceeds one of Emma's episodes. Here we go again. I walked into her room to find her projectile vomiting the day's fluids all over her newly changed bed. Being a pro at handling this now, I swooped her up, dropped her in the tub, stripped her down, washed her, tore off her sheets, remade her bed, and had her back in it smelling like a rose by 8:40pm. She calmed down, and appeared to go back to sleep. And I went to sanitize the tub yet again.

Ok. You know how the back of a shampoo bottle says, "Wash, rinse, repeat." Yeah. If Emma had instructions, they'd say, "Vomit, wash, repeat." At 9:15, I was in her room again, this time in time to catch the 8 or so oz. that came out of her. We vomited, washed, and repeated again at 10:15, 10:45 and 11:15pm until she finally fell asleep, stomach empty and exhausted.

This morning she awoke crying hysterically for water. Of course I gave it to her, but again, only one teaspoon at a time, every 15 minutes. And of course, she got more upset when I wouldn't let her guzzle the whole cup at once. Try explaining to your hysterical, dehydrated 2 year old that if she drinks a whole cup of liquid all at once after vomiting all night, that she will likely bring it all back up again moments later, making her dehydration even worse. So, this morning has been a lesson in moderation for both Emma and myself.

At the moment, she is sipping her cup and eating another half piece of bread. She begged me for both. And since she's kept her moderate fluids down since 6am, I figured what the hell. At this point, if she does vomit, at least the laundry is caught up, so I have something to clean it all up with.

Oh, and Nicky has only had one episode of diarrhea this morning. But if there's one thing I've learned in all of this it's not to even suggest that I might be out of the woods with either one of them. So, I'm just gonna' call it a fluke for now, and if it turns out that he's on the up and up, well, then, I got lucky.

One more thing. In the midst of all this, I started having diarrhea as well. At least I'm not vomiting...yet. Motherhood. No job like it on earth. And no "sick days" for mommy.

When I worked with animals at the zoo, people used to ask me all the time if I got pooped on and which animal produced the most foul substance. Let me tell you, NOTHING I cleaned or saw at the zoo even comes close to what I've dealt with in the last 72 hours. I'll take explosive monitor lizard poop over kid vomit or diarrhea any day.

Anyway, if you haven't heard from me in the last few days, or seen a post in the last 2 weeks, now you know why. I'll be back in communicado as soon as the viruses around here die off. Until then, buy stock in whatever companies make Purex laundry detergent, Pedialyte, and Huggies diapers. We've gone through enough of each in the last few days to single-handedly keep them in business.

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