So the kids have been getting sick. If it were just colds, like they’ve had off and on the last few months, then it wouldn’t be a big deal. Sadly, it’s been more than that.
It all started last Thursday when older sister Ella started feeling sick. Her throat hurt, she had a fever, and she was developing a cough. By Saturday, Peter and Tabitha were becoming ill with similar symptoms. I had previously purchased a quick strep test kit, so I decided to test Ella & Peter. Ella’s test came back positive and Peter’s was negative.
I was actually a little surprised by the positive result and somewhat skeptical about its accuracy, especially since she clearly had some non strep related symptoms (cough, congestion). Of course, it was also a weekend, when getting medical attention is more difficult when not a true emergency.
I decided to do an Intermountain Connect Care visit through their app. I have used their service before and been generally pleased with the convenience of doing a doctor visit at home. For our $10 copay, the physician assessed Ella amd ordered a quick strep test at a nearby lab/pharmacy where she tested positive for strep and filled the prescription that was ordered to be filled in the event of a positive test. So, for a total out of pocket cost of $15, we were able to get Ella the appropriate care. Unfortunately, it was not so easy and inexpensive for the others.
I continued to be suspicious of a possible strep involvement with the other two kids, but numerous negative strep tests later kept me wondering about what was really wrong. I assumed they must have the same virus that Ella must have, considering that strep doesn’t cause a cough, which they all had. Meanwhile, Sunday came and Tabitha’s temperature had continued to rise. I’m still not sure of the actual numbers, but our thermometer, which I’ve never been entirely pleased with, measured her anywhere between 105°-107°. Ibuprofen brought it down to 100.3°, but we were concerned, we tried Connect Care again. The doctor, generally speaking, had similar approaches to illness as I usually do, but he was skeptical and dismissive of the thermometer reading, so he was not concerned about her temperature, which was our primary concern. Ultimately, I was able to extract guidance for when I should take her in to a facility for an in person visit. When the Ibuprofen had worn off and her temperature had spiked again later that day, we took her into the nearby urgent care.
At the urgent care, her temperature measured at 103.6° and the doctor showed a good deal of concern. They gave her a quick strep test, which was negative, but antibiotics were prescribed anyway, since she had a strep positive sister. Tabitha began feeling an improvement the next morning. In fact, her fever was practically gone and she hasn’t needed Ibuprofen since then.
However, at this point I was skeptical about her even having strep. I had ceased to test her, since her cooperation was an issue. ButnI continued to test Peter, thinking maybe there just wasn’t enough bacteria to test positive without doing a culture. By Monday morning, though, after another negative strep test, I wondered about it, but still thought there was a chance, since Tabitha was acting much more normal, except for the cough. I had spoken to our pediatrician’s on call nurse about Peter, but she was with a different doctor, so no antibiotics were prescribed for Peter based on the previous two encounters for his sisters. Monday morning, when their office was open, Adam took Peter in for an assessment. He tested negative for strep, but they decided to do an influenza test, because of his brother’s cancer. Peter tested positive for Influenza A. Ugh.
On Saturday, when kids 2 & 3 had become sick, I had arranged for Eli and Noah to stay with one neighbor, and Andrew to stay with another (we are blessed to have friends and neighbors willing to take in our potentially contagious children in an effort to minimize the risk of their becoming ill-thank you!). Peter’s visit informed us of the presence of the flu virus and the limitations of an antiviral’s effectiveness after the first 48 hours of symptoms.
I heard reports of Andrew being ill on Monday with a presumed cold. That afternoon Eli called me because he had a sore throat and cough. I picked Eli up, took his temperature, and started making phone calls to the on call oncologist (I love holidays, but not the difficulty that presents in getting appropriate access to medical care). Eli had a normal temperature, but having been exposed to the flu and having the beginning symptoms of illness, I was pretty sure of what illness he had. The oncologist agreed and called in a prescription to the nearest open pharmacy (holidays-grrr). I had also been giving him elderberry gummies I had made out of an elderberry elixer I had previously purchased. I didn’t have time to make the gummies completely from scratch. The result was less than ideal, as far as taste goes, but Eli likes them well enough that he’s happy and cooperative about it.
Until he spiked a fever, I decided to leave him at the neighbor’s house on the off chance that it was just a cold. Tuesday morning Eli called because he was feeling worse. My friend said he felt a little warmer than usual. At that point I got ready for a potential hospital stay and went over to assess him. His temperature was a little high, about 100.8, so I called the clinic and explained the situation. They had us come in so they could do labs, hydrate him, and give him an antibiotic. Blood levels came back looking good, so the instructions were to take care of him at home like any other sick kid and continue giving him the antiviral, unless he tested negative for the flu (his test came back positive). He also gets to continue with radiation, poor kid, but that’s ultimately a good thing.
Meanwhile, Andrew’s condition had worsened, then improved and he had gone to school (Ack!). He hadn’t been terribly sick, so he didn’t think he had the flu. Adam took Andrew and Elizabeth to the pediatrician’s office for influenza tests (I thought Andrew’s symptoms had begun Monday morning, which meant he could still go on an antiviral). Andrew’s came back positive, Elizabeth’s was negative (tenacious 2 year old that she is-it will be a miracle if she doesn’t end up getting sick). Elizabeth had woken me up for snuggles about 3am Tuesday morning and had a bit of a cough later that morning, so I expected it to be the beginning of the flu. As it was, we decided to put her on antivirals prophylactically, as well as older sister Valerie. Adam and I haven’t decided what to do for ourselves yet, since we are both still well.
Tuesday also saw the return of my mom to her home. She’d been staying with us for a couple weeks to help out. I miss her already. Having her around relieved the stress and enabled me to do a few things for my own mental and spiritual wellbeing without worrying about the kids so much. My older kids frequently take care of the younger kids when I take Eli to treatment or run errands or go on a weekly date with Adam. Mom was able to take over the various child care needs that were usually covered by the older kids, so everyone got a little break from that responsibility (I pay the kids for some of the babysitting, so there is a benefit for them some of the time).
By Tuesday evening, Noah was sick, too, so I brought all of the kids back home, since the efforts to keep them well were in vain. Sigh.
Now it is Wednesday morning and I have checked temperatures, given meds and supplements, fed the hungry, and clothed the naked (well, no one was actually naked, thank goodness, but Elizabeth loves to change her clothes). Most of the kids temperatures are normal, even Eli’s. Noah’s is 100.5°. So, not too horrible. The sound of coughing frequently punctuates the noise of the tv, which keeps the kids entertained while they convalesce on the sofa.