Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Rash Decision

Finally. A chance to pause.


After what seems like an unending series of colds, bumps, sleepless nights, gray days, and rashes, we are finally seeing sunshine, both literally and figuratively.


It all began about three weeks ago, when Abraham (2) decided to simultaneously cut his molars and come down with a miserable cold. Neither of my boys have ever done well teething. There are fevers (despite what the doctors say: "Babies don't get fevers when they teethe." HA!!! Hats off to Dr. William Sears for actually stating in a book of his that mothers prove otherwise). There are swollen cheeks, open mouths, and drool pools.


It's just gross.


So when Abraham refused to swallow or chew (**extremely** rare for him), we knew he was probably teething. A quick check in his breath of death mouth confirmed our suspicions. We Motrined and Tylenoled him, provided a bedside stack of thick cloth diapers at the ready to be tucked under his ever-drooling mouth as he fitfully slept, and pulled out a collection of new-to-us used videos.


And got ready to wait it out.


Only we waited, and waited, and waited. For days. And then Lily (4) started sneezing and coughing.


And then Miriam (2) knocked herself out. As it was a Saturday and our pediatrician's office was closed, I signed a paper saying I would take her in to be checked on Monday because I was declining the rescue squad's offer to take her to the emergency room.


Monday came. The weekend was long, with Lily still sneezing and coughing, and snorting and sniffling...and then SHE wouldn't swallow. Popsicles and iced drinks failed to entice.


Off to the doctor's office we went for Miriam's appointment. We did not see our regular pediatrician; and during her inspection, this new doctor said Miriam had an ear infection and prescribed Amoxycillin. "Has she been complaining about her ear? Tugging it? Acting fussy?"


"Not a bit," I said. "But this one over here..." and I pointed to Lily, who was sitting there with mouth open, eyes swollen, and cheeks flushed.


"Hmm. Well, I'm going to have Miriam take this Amoxycillin twice a day for ten days."


Irritated at her inability to take a hint, I said, "So what would you suggest I do for someone who won't swallow, has white spots on her throat, and can't sleep because of coughing?"


And....here it comes....she said, "Well, if you'd like to make an appointment, I'd tell you."


OH. MY. WORD. Now let me set something straight. If you know me personally, you know I HATE doctors. Not their person, but their, well, medical inexpertise. Give me a country farm vet anyday. We'd probably be a lot healthier. But anyway. Even a doctor-lover (is there such a thing?) would have to be unsettled by that ridiculous answer. I am sitting there with my five children. For almost two hours, my five children and I have been sitting in this tiny little doctor's office (not the large waiting room, mind you, but this itty bitty office with medical equipment everywhere), playing "I Spy" and reading Parenting magazines that you have laying around and trying not to touch anything. These two hours, and none of my children have broken anything or cried or wet their pants. And why have we been waiting these two hours? BECAUSE I MADE AN APPOINTMENT! Which, incidentally, was for TWO HOURS AGO!!!


And you're refusing to give me advice because it's on the sick kid and not the one you're here to look at?


Fast forward two days. Lily is still not swallowing. The breath of death is absolutely stifling. We drive the half hour to the pediatrician's again, only to have the same doctor, who I am sure has no children of her own. Before the doctor comes in, the nurse swabs Lily's throat for a strep test. The doctor comes in and says, "Her throat is the worst I've seen. Let's see if it's strep." This is your fault, I want to say. But I don't. I'm, you know, godly like that. (Ahem!)


The strep test comes back negative. She tells me to try popsicles and iced drinks. AAARGH! She says Lily does have a mild ear infection and prescribes Amoxycillin. "I'm going to prescribe enough that it will kill the throat infection, too." I ask, as guardedly as I can, "But that won't help any, because antibiotics don't do anything for viral infections." And then, to make this a proper question to the expert and not an outright denial of her knowledge, I add, "Right?"


"Oh, I know," she says. "Believe me, I am NOT one of those doctors who like to prescribe antibiotics just for the sake of prescribing them. But if there's any strep hiding (???!!!???), it'll kill it."


If that's the kind of doctor who DOESN'T like to prescribe antibiotics, I wonder what the kind of doctor is like who DOES? Are they prescribing Amoxycillin by the 2-liter?


So, two days after we picked up Miriam's drugs, we pick up Lily's.


And then I understand why people stop antibiotics early.


Because they do nasty, nasty things to the body. When the things the antibiotics do are worse than what the body was handling without them, you go with the lesser evil, right? And in our case(s), the "evil" was an ear infection, one of them being so painless that the child hadn't even noticed it. And after doing some research (which I must have been too sleep-deprived to do before), I found out that 80-90% of ear infections are self-resolving. It's true! This is not some Backwoods Magazine When You Don't Have a Doctor statistic. It's absolutely true. And not all ear infections are bacterial...doctors usually can't tell whether they are viral or bacterial. So antibiotics may not do a thing for them.


So I pull the antibiotics and become very militant about how many sips Lily must take every 5 minutes. She starts getting better.


A week later, Miriam breaks out with a rash and is complaining about her "mouth" hurting. I look everywhere online to try to figure out what the rash is, trying to rule out chicken pox or scarlet fever or measles or viral rash or allergy to dandelion jelly. I am leaning towards scarlet fever, figuring that maybe she did have strep (even though her rash didn't look like scarlet fever pictures). Finally, I talk to my friend Kendra, who during one sleepless winter became very well-acquainted with various maladies among her children. I describe Miriam's rash, and she assures me that it doesn't sound anything like scarlet fever.


And then, finally, finally, finally, I find a picture that looks exactly like Miriam's rash. And? It was a reaction to Amoxycillin, which can show up a week after the child has taken it.


Well, it's almost gone now. Her throat is no longer sore (despite her telling me, "Mama, my mouth hurts. I need popcorn." Your throat hurts, so you need some salty popcorn? "Yes.")


And I am exhausted. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, one of the cats is leaving gifts of dead voles on the back porch. Spring is here.


I think I'll go to sleep on the couch, right after watching a "House" episode. Because THAT is a doctor who knows doctors don't know anything. And even if that doesn't impress you, the fact that Hugh Laurie is really British just has to.



  1. I think every mom on the planet can relate.

    Hope you all are recovering from the whole ordeal.

  2. I feel your pain with the rashes!! I had to take isaac to the doctor b/c he broke out in a huge rash again this week. I think this is rash number 5 in his 11 short months. The boy is a rash waiting to happen.

    Oh Btw...both of my kids had the rash reaction to amoxicillin


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