Lather, Rinse, Repeat: The Sick Cycle

I didn’t write a lot about what was going on with us last week for two reasons. One was I wanted to get that post about X and The Ex off my plate. It was something I really wanted to write about, and I knew if I got involved in “the daily” I wouldn’t get it done.

Two, I wasn’t having a lot of fun.

Since I have come back to work, the girls have suffered several infections and ailments (some mysterious). I don’t know that the two are connected, although it is hard to dismiss the coincidence. The most stressful part of it (aside from having sick children) is dealing with it long distance.

As a typical example, I will get a phone call from Day Care Lady:

DCL: Monkey/Bun is running a fever.
Me: How high is it?
DCL: Oh, about 100 degrees.
Me: How has she seemed?
DCL: She’s a little fussy. But she ate well. OR: She’s screaming her head off/Telling me her ear really, really hurts. She won’t play/eat/nap.
Me: Should I come get her?
DCL: It’s up to you.

So then I agonize about whether or not I should leave work, and phone the pediatrician’s office in the meantime. If I get an evening appointment, it goes: pick up kids, take Sick Kid and Well Child to doctor’s office where Sick Kid cries and cries while Well Child jumps around and is loud to get the attention that Sick Kid is getting from Mommy and The Doctor, hear Sick Kid has another ear infection (or two), get prescription for antibiotics, leave office, try to get dinner into kids, run to pharmacy to fill prescription, keep kids occupied while prescription is filled (this is why we go to the Target pharmacy), go home, wash/bathe children, get them in pajamas, get medicine into the sick one, get milk and/or cookies into children while they watch a video, read books, sing lullabies, collapse into exhausted heap on couch, drink a beer, go to bed my own self.

One or two days later: Repeat with formerly Well Child as Sick Kid.

My father-in-law has taken Sick Kid on one or two occasions; he was the one on hand the day DearDR had to get to work and we had the paperwork for the medical proxy. Then I am on the phone with him and the doctor, listening to Sick Kid crying in the background. This is stressful for all of its own reasons, including the fact that my FIL — as much as I do love the man — is kind of useless with the kids. He gets them to the pediatrician’s office, and gets them back to DCL, and that’s about it. He doesn’t ask the doctor anything — hence I am sitting at my desk 30 miles away talking on the phone; he doesn’t really listen to the doctor; he doesn’t drop off the prescription to be filled. (He thinks we should get our prescriptions filled at a different, closer, pharmacy. He is not all about the multitasking possibilities of Target.)

It would be much better if Bella were our medical proxy, but Bella has a lot on her plate already. Nanny is not doing very well. (Additionally, my grandmother, up in Erie, is not doing well either.) More details on this in another post.

The most frequent diagnosis has been ear infection. They have each had four in the past five months — on two occasions (if memory serves), both of Bun’s ear have been infected.

The upshot of all of this is that my girls have been referred to an ear-nose-throat (ENT) specialist. I have an appointment at the end of the month.

I am having a lot of regrets about my use of antibiotics. My thinking at the time was simply, “Oh, it’s just an infection. It’ll go away with this medicine.” And, true to form, the infection did go away. For awhile. But then the infection, or another infection, came back. Again, and again, and again. In Monkey’s case, she took a break from the ear infection to get a throat infection.

I wish I had taken the “wait-and-see” approach to the ear infections. As in “wait 48 hours to see if the infection clears up on its own, treating the pain and low-grade fever with ibuprophen and/or acetiminophen”. Many an ear infection will just clear up on its own, according to the literature.

There is a chance, of course, that I would be right back where I am, only having put my children through a couple more days of pain first. So there is no point in beating myself up about it.

But now I keep thinking about facing a man, an expert doctor-type man, who is going to tell me to put tubes in my children’s ears, and saying, “No thank you. They’ll outgrow it.”

I need some ammunition people. I will be doing my own research, of course.

Or, if you or someone you know thinks tubes are the way to go, some encouragement in that direction. DCL says tubes are awesome (her oldest son got them as an infant). My father advises passionately against them.

I should explain here that as an infant and a toddler I had ear infection after ear infection. The last course of treatment my pharmacist parents agreed to was one month of 1 teaspoon of amoxicillin daily. I recall having a couple ear infections as an older child, too, around 5 or 6 years old. But ultimately, I did not get tubes, and I’m fine (my ears are fine, in any case — I’m a bit of a loon, frankly).

Advice welcome; assvice will be submitted for ridicule. Thanks.

7 thoughts on “Lather, Rinse, Repeat: The Sick Cycle

  1. Oh man…I’m sorry you’ve been dealing with this!

    I don’t have any great advice for you, though I wish I did! The only thing I know is that having tubes put in your ears is not a highly invasive surgery and does help lots of kids! But it’s also probably over-done, and if they don’t need something, why make them go through it? …see? I said I didn’t have any advice!

    Good luck!

  2. My son was plagued with ear infections and it was awful. And a lot of the time, he wouldn’t have symptoms until it got REALLY bad. We would start with the one antibiotic and it wouldn’t work, then a stronger one, then an even stronger one before it went away. Then it would start all over again. We finally got him the tubes and it was the best thing ever. He never had another ear infection after. My daughter went through a similar stage and even had a burst eardrum, but hers stopped before we considered tubes. I woulnd’t have hesitated to do it with her if it hadn’t, though.

  3. Thank ye ear gods I have very little personal experience with ear infections.

    *knocks on wood*

    However, there is a girl at our daycare who is three weeks younger than Alexis. She had ear infection after ear infection after ear infection for her first year of life. Her parents decided to give up on the “wait and see/use painkiller” approach when they were a few months from having a second child (they couldn’t imagine dealing with two crying babies at once). She had tubes put in when she was about 15 months and the difference in her personality is REMARKABLE. She’s a much sweeter, outgoing child. One thing that stood out, in addition to the personality change, is that she has started talking much more now. Her Dad told me that the pediatrician thinks that she really couldn’t hear for her first year, so she had some delays with speech development because of the constant fluid in her ears. Everything is all cleared up now.

    Totally an extreme case, but it gave me my stance on tubes. I think they are a better option than frequent antibiotics. Whether that’s right or wrong, who knows?!?

    Good luck with your research!

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