Thursday, June 13, 2013
Childhood Illnesses: Blessing or Burden?
I have the advantage of having spent the last 15 years or so of my life up to my elbows in kid germs and have built up an immunity to practically everything. My boys, having been breastfed (Monkey until 14 mos. and Bear currently), also benefit from my ridiculous immunities and have been around other children (and their germs) practically since birth.
Recently, however, we had a battle with a virus that knocked Monkey out for nearly a week - something that has NEVER happened in his 3 1/2 years.
It started off as just a slightly elevated temperature, nothing to even be worried about. He'll sometimes get a slight fever for a day, spend the day sleeping and be fine the following day. I always say it's his body's way of catching up on the rest he tries so hard to avoid.
By day two, he was definitely not himself - asking for food, but not eating; wanting to be held; listless. By the end of the day, the fever had hit 102 - still not a huge deal for me, I figured he'd be fine by morning. He was still getting plenty of fluids, so I wasn't too worried about the lack of food.
Day three rolled around and he was still not better, just getting worse. By evening, the fever had reached 104.7 (before fever reducer) and I was starting to worry. I also noticed a rash on his palms and soles of his feet, leading me to believe he had hand, foot and mouth disease.
I've worked with children a LONG time and I've seen many cases of hand, foot and mouth, but I didn't recall ever seeing a fever this high or the other symptoms he was exhibiting with that illness.....now Mama's really getting worried.
The following day, he woke with a very high fever, but it was controlled by the fever reducer and once that kicked in, he was hungry - phew! All he would eat was cereal, but at that point, I would have given him anything just to get him to eat. He ate three bowls and seemed much better, even managing to get off the couch for a while and work on some puzzles.
After about an hour, he was back to being completely exhausted and listless. The weekend was fast approaching and I thought it best at this point to get a professional medical opinion, so we took him to the pediatrician who confirmed the diagnosis of hand, foot and mouth (or a related virus) and told us to push fluids and rest and continue fever reducer as long as it seemed necessary. So, basically, keep doing what we're doing!
Things were still spotty for the next two days, but by the end of the weekend, he was back to his normal self - though he'd lost 2lbs, which is quite a bit when he only weighed 27lbs to begin with.
We went back to our grain-free diet and things started settling down.
Only then did I realize that Monkey had spent countless hours sleeping both on the couch and in bed and hadn't had any potty accidents. He's been diaper-free during the day since he was 21mos old, but nighttime has been an issue. He decided a few months ago that he no longer wanted a diaper at night, but was unable to go all night without having an accident (or two). I had to wake him to have him use the bathroom each night before going to bed myself and occasionally, he would still have another accident before morning.
At first, I just figured it was a fluke since he was ill and wasn't eating or drinking as much as he normally would, but I decided to just let him sleep and see what would happen. Much to my surprise, he is now capable of sleeping through the night with no potty breaks!
And this isn't the only change we've noticed. His language skills and vocabulary have increased, his appetite is better (for the most part, though there are good and bad days), his energy level is more stable, his muscle tone (and the weight he lost) have come back extremely fast and have shown signs of increase/improvement. Even his facial features have changed.
There are schools of thought that believe that childhood illnesses are a time of great change and growth and I must say, after this experience, I tend to agree. Obviously, I would never wish illness on any child, nor would I wish any parent to feel as helpless as we did watching our little guy fighting off this virus, but I do have faith in the body and mind and this recent experience definitely makes one think and wonder if childhood illnesses can really be both burden AND blessing.