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Children’s Health

When I look back on this holiday season I’ll remember one thing for certain, the plague that invaded our family and just wouldn’t go away. The Christmas plague of 2011 is a doozy and it holds in to you with its germy little hands and just won’t let go.

Maya was the first of our crew to be infected (I’m guessing she picked it up from school). The Thursday before we were to leave for our Christmas vacation she spiked a fever before going to bed but seemed fine the next day so we figured (or rather hoped) it was nothing. Saturday night in the hotel the evil plague reared its ugly head. She was super stuffed up and coughing all night, had a nose bleed from all the stuffyness and the dry heat in the hotel room, threw up and had crusty eyes. I should have known then that this thing was a doozy but I continued to live in hope that it would go away as quickly as it came. No such luck. The poor kiddo is still sick. She has been battling this god awful cold virus for 3 WEEKS. Today the doctor diagnosed her with a sinus infection and she is now on antibiotics so hopefully it’ll be gone soon.

Each of us has had our turn with the plague. Anna was the luckiest of us and was only sick for about a week. Lorne got it a few days into our trip and was sick the whole time we were on vacation. I thought I was going to be the lucky one when I didn’t get infected while we were away, even though I had to share a room with my little germ breathing family. However, the day after we got home I started to feel it setting in and it has gotten worse every day since then. Last night I even had a high fever, I haven’t had a fever in forever. And, today I took my first ever “sick day” from my stay at home mom gig by making Lorne stay home so I could maximize how much time I got to spend laying on the couch today and could have an extra pair of hands to help take care of the girls. This is definitely the worst cold I’ve had in a really, really long time.

Hopefully, fingers crossed, this crazy plague is on its way out and we will all be healthy again in the near future. Until then, I”ll leave you with a cute picture of the adorable Miss Anna, because she is just so darn cute it would be a crime not to share her with you ;)

 

Schools and germs go hand in hand. Every child has to go through more than their fair share of the sickies when they first start school. They have to work their way through all the germs to help build up their little immune system. Not to mention kids pass germs around much more easily than grown ups thanks to all the toy sharing, a tendency to forget to cover their mouth and nose when they sneeze or cough, and the grossest thing of all, letting their nose run down their face (ewww!). Every parent knows their kids is going to get sick during the school year, especially during the cold and flu season. Keeping your child home from school when they are sick is a common courtesy to other families to help stop the spread of germs. But, where is the line. When is a child sick enough to stay home and when is it okay to send you child to school.

Maya has a little boy in her preschool class who has a weakened immune system and is much more susceptible to getting sick and when he does get sick it can quickly escalate into a dangerous illness. Now that we are right smack dab in the middle of cold and flu season the school has reminded us that it is important (especially in our classroom) to keep your child home from school if they are sick to help stop the spread of germs. Some symptoms are obvious triggers to keep a child at home, like a fever or vomiting, but what other symptoms should keep a child at home and when is it okay to send them back? Coughs associated with colds can sometimes stick around for weeks after all the other symptoms are gone. Some children are fine when they have a cold other than being a little stuffed up and maybe a little extra sneezy but are otherwise full of energy and fine to go about their day. It is tough to find that fine line.

Our school has a pretty realistic well child policy and I feel comfortable that the school and the other parents are doing their part. Each school is going to have their own policies and rules regarding when a child should stay home or what symptoms will get them sent home from school. You should always check with your child’s school regarding their policy and, of course, use your own common sense.

Obviously, with an immune compromised child in our class we parents are going to need to be a little extra diligent and considerate when we are making the decision on whether to keep our child at home. So far (knock on wood) Maya hasn’t been sick much this school year, and the times she has been sick have been during the days when she doesn’t have school. But, when that time comes when I have to keep her home I know she is not going to be happy about missing school unless she is feeling really sick.  That will be the tough part, explaining to her why she needs to stay home even if she isn’t feeling all that crappy.

When do you keep your child home from school? What symptoms are triggers for keeping them at home and when do you feel okay sending them back?

Maya has always been a relatively healthy child. In her first year of life she only had one cold and that was when she was about 7 weeks old and she got it while we were visiting family over Christmas. Throughout her almost 4 years of life she has had mostly just colds. Last year she did have a mild case of croup, but no medication was needed and it was gone in a day or two. No flu, no ear infections, no antibiotics. It has been smooth sailing in that department so far.

I knew that she would like be sick more often this year now that she has started school. We all know that germs love to travel around the school yard and make their rounds to all the kid’s homes. Well, here we are, just over a month into the school year and we’v already had our first battle with the school cooties.

A couple of weeks ago Maya had her flu vaccine. At the advice of her doctor I opted for the nasal mist versus the shot. Her doctor warned me that she would likely have an extra stuffy, runny nose for a couple of days (I say extra because Maya has allergies and pretty much always has a stuffy, runny nose). So, when her nose was stuffy all last weekend I didn’t think anything of it. When it didn’t go away and a cough arrived I figured she was coming down with a cold. No biggie, we’ve dealt with colds before.

Then Thursday night rolled around, well actually more like the wee hours of Friday morning. Maya woke up crying and when I went into her room I found her running a fever and complaining that her ear hurt. A trip to the doctor later that morning confirmed what I already knew, she had her first ear infection. A prescription for a round of antibiotics and we were on our way home to suffer through the weekend with an extremely crabby Maya.

She has made it almost 4 years with not a single ear infection, not a single round of antibiotics and nothing more than a cold under her belt. One month into her first year of school and now she has had her first ear infection and she is part way through her first round of antibiotics. This school year could get interesting. My fingers are crossed that we get a reprieve from the school cooties for a bit.

Maya is struggling with some bladder issues. Her bladder issues have become a big strain on our family. She is going ALL THE TIME. Seriously, I mean ALL THE TIME, as in every 5 minutes or so. This has been going on for about 5 weeks now. We practically live in the bathroom both at home and in public restrooms while we are out (gross!). To say that this is a trying time for me as a parent is an understatement. I literally feel like I am going to go insane some days if this doesn’t stop soon.

When it first started I had immediately thought she had a bladder infection and called her pediatrician. Off we went for a pee in a cup appointment only to discover that her urine was clean when strip tested in the office. Two days later the culture test also came back clean, no infection. The pediatrician thought perhaps she had some sort of irritation in her urethra from the public pool, or new soap, or something along those lines and suggested I give it a week or so to see if it resolved itself.  Time did not resolve the issue, and if anything it was getting worse, she was going more often.

Her main symptoms were extremely frequent need to urinate, sometimes she would go (often only a few dribbles since she was trying every 5 minutes), but often times she couldn’t go at all. It was the times she couldn’t go that were the worst. She would completely meltdown and throw hysterical fits because she felt like she had to pee but nothing would come out. However, this was (is) only happening during the day, at night she is fine, no bladder issues, no bedwetting, everything is normal.

So, since time had not resolved the issue back to the doctor we went. The doc did another test on her urine, both in office strip test and culture test, and again both were negative. I had secretly hoped for a positive because then at least there would be an actual problem with a relatively simple solution.

At least we left office with some what of a diagnosis this time. The diagnosis…daytime overactive bladder or pollakiuria. The unknown, whether it is physiological or psychological. She was prescribed ditropan to help relax the muscles of her bladder and urethra. The type of overactive bladder she has often affects kids her age for a short period of time until they grow out of it and return to their normal peeing routine. The hope is that medication will help her get over the hump, that it will help control her bladder’s muscle spasms until her body can do it again on its own.

Since we don’t know for sure if the bladder control problem is physiological or psychological we don’t know for sure if the medication will work. Pollakiuria can often be triggered by stress and since Maya has several new stressors in her life right now, a new sibling and the prospect of starting preschool soon, to name a few, in all likelihood it is psychological and not physiological.  In which case we have to wait until she stops being stressed out before the bladder control issues will go away.

She has been on the medication for almost 2 weeks now and I’d love to say it has resolved the issue, but sadly, it has not. It has helped, and some days it almost feels like we are back to normal. But, most days she is still going ALL THE TIME. She is still acting like it is desperate that she go to the potty RIGHT THIS MINUTE, and then not actually going. It is still only affecting her during the day. My fingers are still crossed that the medication helps her, especially before she starts school later this month.

My hope is that we can both remain somewhat sane until this issue is resolved and that one day I no longer have to live in my bathroom and can go out with my child again without having to spend half my time rushing her to the bathroom. Right now my sanity is holding on my a very thin piece of thread, a very thin piece.

Anyone else ever dealt with this with their own children? I’d love if you’d share any tricks you learned that may help us get through this.

Somehow Lorne and I, neither of us being sufferers of allergies beyond the very mild seasonal allergies that I sometimes suffer from, have managed to birth a child who is allergic to everything. Not only does she have her peanut and tree nut allergy but she also has pretty bad indoor and outdoor allergies. She is even now, apparently, allergic to our cats. There is a family history of allergies, including pet allergies, on Lorne’s side of the family. Both his brothers suffer from indoor and outdoor allergies, including pet allergies. So, it’s in her genes, but man, I was not expecting this. It breaks my cat loving heart to have a child who is allergic to cats.

The pet allergies appeared when we got back from Australia. Maya has always suffered from mild nasal congestion all year long as a result of allergies but has never shown signs of being any worse around our cats.  When we got back from Australia it quickly became obvious that she was allergic to the cats. Every time she touched them, particularly if she was hugging them or kissing them, she would break out in hives on the areas of her skin that had contacted the cats. One day her eye practically swelled shut as a result of 5 hives developing below her eye after a particularly close encounter with our cat Lily.  After talking with her allergist it was determined that we had basically skin tested her and she is indeed allergic to pet dander, oh joy. She is already on Zyrtec and his recommendation was to keep her on that and since she doesn’t have any asthmatic symptoms he wouldn’t recommend any other medications at this time. He doesn’t believe in over medicating if it can be avoided. We considered skin testing her, but really it isn’t necessary to put her through that since we know what she is allergic to and won’t really glean any new information from the tests.  So, we decided to hold off for now.

So then it was on us to decide what to do.  Getting rid of the cats is not an option at this point. Not only are they part of our family and 13 and 12 years old, but Maya is very intensely attached to them. She loves her kitties dearly and taking them away from her, especially right now with all the other changes on the horizon, just isn’t something I want to do. Since her allergies, when controlled with Zyrtec, are mild and she will likely stop getting hives as her body re-desensitizes (totally made that word up!) to being exposed to the cats the allergist and her pediatrician are not saying we have to get rid of them at this time. The idea is to treat her allergy symptoms with Zyrtec and do a few things around the house to help reduce the amount of pet dander she is exposed to.  A few things we are doing, or plan on doing are:

  • Purchase allergy reducing mattress covers, pillows and pillow covers for her bed.
  • Keep the door closed to her room at all times and make it a cat free environment.
  • Wash her bedding more often.
  • Invest in an air purifier for her room.
  • Purchase the best air filter we can get for our furnace.
  • Keep the vents in her room closed whenever possible, and place an allergy barrier on the vent for those times when it needs to be open. We’ll also put allergy barriers on the vents in the other rooms too.
  • Bathe the cats more often, likely once a week, with dander reducing shampoo.
  • Brush them more regularly, our vet and the allergist both recommend daily in a room that Maya does not frequent (we’ll probably do it downstairs in the basement).
  • Use baby wipes on them every day to help reduce the amount of dander coming off them and settling on the furniture.
  • Vacuum and dust more often, especially the furniture.
  • Try to keep Maya from spending too much time cuddling the cats and make her wash her hands after she has pet them (this one will be a challenge).

My hope is that all the above will work to help manage her allergies and we won’t have to confront the possibility of getting rid of the cats. It isn’t something I want to do since I love them dearly, and I know Maya would be devastated.

I was talking to her pediatrician today about her allergies and she mentioned that some children completely grow out of allergies as they get older, or they develop much milder reactions. I’ve got my fingers crossed that she falls into one of those categories.

Do you or your children suffer from allergies, particularly pet allergies? How do you manage them? Any tips or tricks you have for me would be greatly appreciated.