Down for the count

Over the weekend E came down with a bad bug. At first I thought it was just a cold, but he’s been running a 103 degree fever since Monday, has a cough, and struggles to keep anything in his stomach. I took him to the doctor who thought it might be strep since his throat is inflamed but they swabbed it and it was negative. So they said it was a nasty viral infection and the only thing we could do is wait it out.

To add to over overall awesomeness of the situation, E is also cutting his two front teeth! With the fever and the teeth and the sick stomach, E is miserable. He cries and whimpers and then cries some more. But then he’ll give you a smile and you can tell that he’s trying really hard.

Poor little guy.

Et tu, Dairy?

So…it turns out that E. is allergic to milk (and by extension: normal baby formula, yogurt, cheese, the brand of teething biscuits he likes, and some baby cereals).

(Doesn’t he look terrified? He is–terrified of a future without dairy!)

Anyway, I took E. to the allergist (Dr. Broadbent) on Friday afternoon. I told her about the allergic reaction E. had had to the formula. I also mentioned that E. might have had minor reactions to dogs (his face broke out after my sister’s dog licked him) and something in humus (E. threw up after he had some last week, but it he might have just eaten too much). They did a skin test on his back for allergies to milk, dogs, sesame (it’s in humus) and soy. He had strong reactions to milk and dog. (The doctor was surprised by the strength of his dog reaction and said it would be best to not have pets in the home for at least a couple of years – sad!)

(This is his marked-up back. By the time we got home and I took this picture, his reactions had mostly gone away. He had several little red welts on it.)

The allergist said that E.’s food allergy to milk, his allergy to dogs (and most likely cats), and his eczema all indicate that he will probably have ongoing issues with allergies and possibly asthma as he grows up.

Dr. Broadbent said the best thing to do would be to completely eliminate dairy from E.’s diet. That means eliminating all cow’s milk from the breastmilk he drinks (and I produce) or switching him to a special hypoallergenic formula such as Nutramigen. The doctor also said that it would be best for him to avoid other highly allergenic foods such as eggs, peanuts, other nuts, and soy for a while. The theory is that the longer E. goes before he’s exposed to a food, the smaller the possibility will be that he’ll develop an allergy to it. That’s why the doctor doesn’t want to put him on soy formula right now. Because if you have allergies to both milk AND soy, well, you’re basically screwed.

The current best case scenario is that E. continues to be breastfed or drinks Nutramigen until after his first birthday, at which time he can have soy milk. And then (fingers crossed) after a couple of years of being on soy, he will have out grown his milk allergy.

Since the doctor doesn’t want E. to be exposed to any dairy, eggs, peanuts/nuts, or soy, I can’t eat any of those things if I’m nursing him (I can have some soy if I don’t overdo it). The restrictions are, to be honest, pretty daunting. Dairy would be hard on it’s own (I love milk and we eat a lot of things with cheese in them), but over the weekend I’ve been trying to think of things to eat that also don’t have eggs in them and it’s been pretty rough. Most breads and pasta either have eggs in them or were processed on the same equipment as things with eggs were. I never really paid attention to it before, but the majority of foods I eat have either milk or eggs in them in some form or another (or I wash them down with a tall frosty glass of milk).

On Saturday N. and I went out for a ‘last supper’ of sorts: I had pasta with cream sauce and we split a slice of cheesecake for dessert. The waiter overheard N. said that we were ‘celebrating’ and so he comp-ed us the cheesecake and asked us if it was a birthday or anniversary. We explained the whole thing, which I think was more than he wanted to know. (But, um, yay for free cheesecake!) After that meal, I quit eating the offending foods. But I hadn’t gone grocery shopping and so yesterday I basically ate just rice and kimchi.

I need to go shopping today to restock our kitchen with allowed foods. N. was pretty incredulous about all of the foods that are now off limits. He said that we should look at how E. does with the formula. It would be REALLY nice if formula was an option for E. I like nursing him, but even though I’m still pumping a couple times a day, I’m not getting as much milk out as I used to. Which means that it’s hard to leave enough milk for E. to be babysat or to take along with us to a restaurant where breastfeeding would be difficult. Being able to give him formula once in a while would be really convenient and would take some of the pressure off of me.

While we were at the clinic they also did a skin test to see if E. reacted to Nutramigen. He didn’t have a reaction, but Dr. Broadbent said to still be careful when I gave it to him for the first time. Last night I gave E. a couple sips of formula, and he later threw up. There’s a chance that he just had an upset stomach, but he was also scratching at his face which doesn’t bode well. There’s a possibility that E.’s in the 5% of kids with milk allergies that can’t drink this (or any) formula.

Sorry to go on and on and on. I was feeling pretty upbeat about everything over the weekend, but that was before I realized E. might not be able to take even the special formula. I’m going to wait a couple of days for his stomach to settle down and try the formula again, so I guess we’ll see. Today I’m also going to make lists of things I can eat (so far I’ve thought of fruits, vegetables, pita bread, and soy milk) and go shopping.

Right now I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, but I think it will all be okay.

This little guy makes me feel better about it all.

E.’s Kryptonite

On Wendesday night Grandpa and his sister, E.’s great-great-aunt Dorothy, took us out to dinner. I didn’t have a bottle of breastmilk ready to take along and so I decided to mix up a bottle of formula (using one of the many sample cans they gave me at the hospital) and take it with me for E.

After we settled into our booth at the restaurant E. seemed hungry and so I gave him the bottle and he drank the whole thing. Then, his face turned quite red and he threw up the entire contents of the bottle (my apologies to the wait staff at Sweet Tomatoes). His nose and mouth started dripping mucous and drool and he was rubbing and scratching his face vigorously.

Two and a half hours later we were checking him into the hospital for overnight observation.

Yes, just like Superman, E. has an near-fatal weakness. It turns out that

Since we wouldn’t all fit in one car, N. had driven Grandpa and Aunt Dorothy to the restaurant and I had driven E. in my car. After he threw up, E. seemed to feel a little better but was still flushed and itchy. I decided to leave the restaurant early and take him home. I got E. home and gave him some Benadryl, nursed him for a little bit, and put him to bed. He seemed really tired but still itchy. I called our pediatrician’s after hours clinic and spoke to a nurse. She was mystified about E.’s reaction to the formula; she hadn’t heard of anything like it. But she said it didn’t sound like it was necessary to bring E. into the clinic since he wasn’t having trouble breathing.

While I was on the phone with the nurse, I heard E. wake up and start crying. When I went to go check on him he was on his tummy in a pool of vomit and looked worse. (I have to confess that at this point I started to freak out a little). I picked him up and he threw up all over me. I realized that he really needed to go to the doctor. So I quickly changed him out of his vomit-soaked pajamas (noting that his legs and arms were now a bright solid red color), changed my own shirt, threw some things for him into my bag, and called the clinic to let them know we were coming in. N. had forgotten to take his cell phone with him and I didn’t have a way of getting a hold of him and so I just left him a note.

At this point E. was super tired and tried his best to fall asleep on the car ride to the clinic while I tried my best to drive there as fast as safely possible. As I was driving N. called and I told him what was going on. When we got to the clinic we saw the physician’s assistant and she said that it looked like E. had had an anaphylactic allergic reaction and that she was going to have the doctor who was on call come in and examine him.

When the doctor arrived he looked E. over and asked me if E. had possibly eaten any food at the restaurant that was out of the ordinary, like seafood. I told him that the only thing E. had eaten all day was breastmilk except for the one bottle of formula.

The doctor said that the danger with serious allergic reactions like the one E. had was that sometimes there is a secondary reaction in about 6 or 8 hours that can be as bad or worse than the original reaction. So the doctor wanted to give E. a shot of Epinephrine to stop the current reaction and than have E. admitted to the hospital to be put on IV fluids and monitored overnight. When the doctor told me this I felt overwhelmed–IV fluids? Overnight hospitalization? My poor baby boy! Just then N. and Grandpa showed up, which I was grateful for.

The nurse gave E. a shot of Epinephrine and almost immediately E.’s color started to clear up. The doctor told us to take E. to the hospital (which is only a block away from the clinic) and go straight up to the pediatric ward and the nurses there would be expecting us. We went over and as soon as the nurses saw us they started putting on their gloves and hustling to get an IV into E. so they could give him fluids.

It took them almost half an hour and many, many needle jabs to get the IV started. It was so hard on E. and really hard to watch. They needed me to fill out some paperwork and so I gratefully left N. with E. while the nurses were sticking him but I could hear E. screaming all the way down the hall. After I was done with the paperwork they STILL hadn’t gotten the IV started and so I went to go comfort E. It was pretty heartbreaking; E. was exhausted and was trying his best to go to sleep. His eyes kept fluttering close and then flying open every time they jabbed him. It took 3 nurses to hold him steady during all this time: they said that E. was really strong for his age. (They also all mentioned that they liked his hair.)

Anyway, things settled down after the IV was in and they put him in a room and hooked him up to a bunch of heart and respiratory monitors. It was a little hard to get the cords out of the way while I nursed him, but I fed E. and then put him in the hospital crib and he fell asleep right away.

There was only one adult bed in the room and things seemed to be under control and so I sent N. and Grandpa home. I filled out some more paperwork and then around 2am I went to sleep. The nurses popped into the room to check on him every couple of hours and changed his IV a few times.

In the morning N. came by and brought a change of clothes for me and a few other things. While N. was there the doctor came by to check on E. The doctor said E.’s allergic reaction was pretty mysterious. They didn’t know if he’s allergic to cow’s milk or to something specific in Similac. A cow’s milk allergy would be unusual since I eat a lot of dairy and the proteins that trigger cow’s milk allergies pass into breast milk. Either way, E. needs to see a pediatric allergist so it can get sorted out. I need to call the allergist they recommended later today to get an appointment. It will probably be a few months before we can be seen, though.

The doctor also proscribed Epipens for E. so we can keep one with us just in case he has another serious reaction. On the way home I picked them up from the pharmacy. (I like how “Jr” is in a fun font. Cutest needle ever!)

Until we get his allergy figured out, E. (obviously) can’t have any formula. I was planning on breastfeeding E. until he turned one anyway, but I have to admit that now that formula simply isn’t an option I’m feeling a bit more pressure.

E. seems to have made a full recovery, other than being a little tired from the lack of sleep. After we got home from the hospital yesterday he took a nap and when he woke up he enjoyed bopping around in his jumper.

And for something completely different:

Good news! Sometime during all of the hoopla E.’s tooth finally broke through.

…so there’s that.

Recipe and ENT Follow-Up

Last night we had dinner with some friends. It was a lot of fun (Thanks for having us over, B. and E!) We brought along a dessert which was a sort of ice cream cake. I had seen an episode of Rachel Ray’s show and got the idea from her. I thought of it as a sort of frozen strawberry shortcake. There were only 3 ingredients: pound cake from Costco (yum!), strawberry ice cream, and some sliced strawberries for a garnish. Like Rachel Ray’s receipe, I used a pyrex meat loaf pan.

  1. First we lined the pan with plastic wrap, making sure there was plenty of extra hanging over.
  2. Then we sliced some strawberries and arranged them in an overlapping pattern on the bottom of the pan. (Note: they will freeze solid and so make sure to cut them thinly or else they may be a little too chunky like ours were.)
  3. Spoon in some ice cream and spread it out evenly into about an 3/4″ layer.
  4. Slice the pound cake horizontally into about 3/4″ layers. Lay a slice of pound cake over the ice cream and cut smaller pieces of pound cake to fill in any gaps.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 up to the top of the pan, ending with a cake layer.
  6. Then wrap the extra plastic wrap over the top of the pan and press down on the whole thing a little. The ice cream should be a little soft so it mushes around and fills in any gaps.
  7. Pop it in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
  8. To unmold, dip the pan in a hot water bath for a half a minute to loosen everything up a bit. Then turn the pan upside down and wriggle it out of the pan by tugging on the extra plastic wrap. Discard plastic wrap.
  9. Slice the cake vertically and serve. (Note: It doesn’t look that great when it comes straight out of the pan, but once you slice it into pieces, it looks pretty good. The end pieces don’t look as nice though, so either slice off a skinny piece from the end and discard it or give the end piece to your husband/roommate/boyfriend/child/dog to eat. You made it, so you should get a pretty piece!)

This morning I took E. back to the ear/nose/throat doctor today for his two-week follow-up appointment. The good news is that E.’s ears are all cleared up! The bad news is that E.’s was still a bit of a pill over the weekend. If his ears aren’t bothering him, I’m not sure why he’s been fussier than normal. Maybe he’s finally decide to teethe? He doesn’t have a single tooth yet. *shrug* Who knows.

What I do know is that my monthly report for work is due tomorrow and I still need to put in a lot of work on it. E. just went down for a nap and so I’ve got to get busy.

What’s that you say?

The colonies have declared their independence? By George!

Happy Fourth of July!

I hope you have a lovely holiday. I think we’re going to putter around the house and then see some friends (and hopefully fireworks) in the evening.

I forgot to post about our trip to the ENT on Monday. Our pediatrician’s office had gotten us a 3:45 appointment but the doctor was really behind and we were stuck waiting for almost 2 hours. E. held it together pretty well for the first hour, but then started falling apart. So I put him in his stroller and walked laps around the hallway. It was good for him because he quieted down and fell asleep and it was good for me because I hadn’t had time to exercise that morning. We ended up walking around for 45 minutes!

Lateness aside, I really liked the doctor. He had a very competent and deliberate manner about him. After he checked E.’s ears the doctor said that they look like they’re in the process of draining. He said that the pressure is more painful to E. now that his ears are draining than when they were totally plugged up. He didn’t think it would be worth it to jump the gun and put tubes in when the problem may resolve itself. We have a follow up appointment to check E.’s progress in 2 weeks (thankfully it’s the first appointment of the day and so there won’t be a horrendous wait). So tubes are still a possibility, but they’re a slim one.

E. has been fussier these last couple of weeks than he has ever been. Luckily, it’s still not too bad. However, I’ve been spoiled by his previous mellowness and so this new behavior kind of wears me out. He has taken to shrieking in a super-high pitch at the drop of a hat. Hopefully the shrieking is related to his ear pain and only temporary rather than being a new hobby he has decided to explore. Because I have to admit that I am not a big fan.

Mr. Sandman part 2 and E.

I think our float turned out pretty well. Mr. Sandman lost one of the shells from his mouth during the trip to the parade grounds, but other than that he survived unscathed. Now he’s sitting in my living room but I’m afraid he doesn’t quite fit the decor. I don’t know what to do with him other than prying off the sunglasses I glued to his head and chucking him into the trash. I have to admit that I got a little *sniff* attached to the guy. If anyone here in Utah can think of a good use for him, they can have him, sunglasses and all.

Since we got back from Oregon things have been pretty hectic with N.’s parents leaving for Korea, my helping with the parade float, and E.’s double ear infection. Yep, E. has a bad double ear infection. I didn’t mention it before because I was hoping it would clear up and I’m sure that everyone is sick of hearing about E.’s various ailments. But it hasn’t cleared up yet (and so you get to hear about it. Try to contain your excitement!)

It started with the cold that E. and I caught back at the end of May. E. developed a double ear infection from the cold and before we went to Oregon he took a round of oral antibiotics. His recovery didn’t seem quite as dramatic as the doctor said it would, but he did seem to be feeling better and so I didn’t take him back in for a check up before we left (foolish, foolish, Faith!) I thought the problem was fixed.

E. was really good on the drive to Oregon (even over the mountain passes) and for the first few days. But by the end of the week he was waking up 3 or 4 times a night crying and generally feeling worn out. But he was still really good on the drive back.

I took him back in to the doctor the Monday after we got home (the 16th) and his ears were infected pretty badly. So that week he had three shots of rocephin, which is pretty much the strongest antibiotic that the pediatrician uses. The shots were pretty painful.

Fast forward to last Monday when I took him back for a follow-up. The rocephin hadn’t worked and his ears are still really infected. Our doctor referred us to an ear/nose/throat doctor that we’re going to go see today. I’m a little worried about him having to have tubes in his ears. He just seems too little to be put under general anesthesia but everyone I’ve talked to that have had it done says it solves the problem. This is E.’s first persistent ear infection though, so I don’t know if it’s warrented. N.’s taking off from work a little early so he can go to the appointment too. I guess we’ll just have to see what our options are.

Dramatic results as promised

E. is continuing to recover from his infection. The results of the new medication were actually quite dramatic as the doctor said it would be. E. started on the meds on Thursday and by Saturday he looked as good as he does today. E. was so cute over the weekend. You could tell that he felt a lot better. He woke up happy as opposed to writhing around in his crib trying to scratch his face. And he was so giggly and cheerful. He’s taken lately to “talking” lately to himself or us and makes these funny groaning and cooing sounds, sometimes for 10 minutes or more. It really cracks N. and me up.

It seems like the eczema on his chin might have hit the limit of what this medication is going to do for it; today it looks a little worse than it did yesterday. I think I’m still going to take him up to Salt Lake see the dermatologist on Monday.

I stopped by my old office yesterday to pick some things up and was amazed by some of the changes. During the 5 years I was there, we didn’t have a break room where you could eat your lunch; you had to eat at your desk. But now there’s a break room AND it has air hockey and foosball tables–no fair! And it seems like they’re trying to go more team building activities now, too. They’re having an office bowling tournament tomorrow which they were nice enough to invite me to even though I’m just a contractor now. I’m a little nervous because even though I took a bowling class in college (best P.E. class ever!), I’m still pretty rusty. I think it’s been over two years since I last bowled. And I have to take E. and I didn’t know what to do with him during my turn bowling. But a couple of my friends from the office are going to go but not bowl, so they said that they would hold E. while I bowled. So he can hang out with his aunties while I embarass myself in front of my coworkers and friends.

Anyway, wish me luck. I just hope I break 100!

Dramatic Results

E.’s doctor’s appointment yesterday was very productive. I went and saw the doctor that started the large group practice we go to. He seemed really competent. He said that calling E.’s rash impetigo is a bit of a cop-out because it trivializes what is really going on, which is that E. has severe eczema with a secondary infection.

The doctor also said that the oral antibiotic that the previous doctor had proscribed isn’t super effective for skin infections and he prescribed cephalexin which is specifically for skin infections. He also prescribed Desonide, a mild steroid cream. The doctor said that the most important thing is to get moisture into E.’s skin and so I need to give him two baths a day and let him soak for a while (no scrubbing of his face is necessary, just getting it wet and some mild washing) and then slather his face in the Desonide cream, the topical antibiotic the other doctor prescribed, and Cetaphil. And I’m supposed to use a stronger topical steroid ointment on any patches of ezcema E. has on his body and then put Cetaphil all over him too.

It’s quite a regimen, but the doctor said that we should see dramatic results and it should be almost all gone in a week. He said that if it wasn’t, it would be good to take him to a dermatologist, and so I’m going to hang on to my appointment until the end of next week and see. I liked this doctor quite lot. It seemed like he knew more about skin infections than the first doctor I saw.

I gave E. a bath last night and again this morning and applied all of his creams and ointments and such and I think he’s beginning to look the tiniest bit better already. His skin’s still inflamed but it’s not as flaky and dry.

We brought the armoire home yesterday with the help of my father-in-law and his SUV. I’ve got to run because Miranda’s coming over for lunch, but I’ll take and post some pictures on Monday. It’s exciting to have it home.

Anyway, have a good weekend!

I don’t zinc so!

First off, E. is still crusty and uncomfortable. I’ve been scrubbing his face and applying the topical antibiotic twice a day, which is very unpleasant for both him and me. Yesterday I thought it might be improving a little, but today it’s still pretty bad. Last night he kept waking up every few hours, writhing in discomfort. I’m going to take him the to pediatrician again tomorrow. Before they said that they would want to run a blood test for a zinc deficiency if it’s lasted a week which, barring a miracle, it looks like it will. If they can’t figure it out, I just snagged an appointment with the only pediatric dermatologist in the region for the 28th. Having the appointment is reassuring because if tomorrow the pediatrician isn’t sure what it is, the dermatologist most likely figure it out. And if it goes away before the 28th, then I can cancel my appointment with no charge. So today I’m feeling less discouraged. We’ll see what the doctor says tomorrow. I want to thank everyone for their support – I really appreciate it!

Speaking of support, my boss is very understanding and has been great. She has two little kids, I think about 7 and 5, and her husband just got sent back to Iraq for another year-long tour of duty. I don’t know how she does it. She’s been very helpful and reassuring about any new-mom worries I have. Anyway, last week I was getting pretty overwhelmed by work (and E.’s condition) and then she wanted me to make a new project my top priority even though I was pretty busy with my monthly reports. It just totally overwhelmed me. I ended up talking to her about it on Thursday and she apologized for dumping too much on me when I was already busy with my reports. And then on Friday, these were delivered with a lovely note.

How sweet is that?

Tonight’s the last day of woodworking class and if all goes well, I’m going to be bringing the armoire home tonight. I first have to get it lacquered during class, though. Keep your fingers crossed for me. Pictures to follow!

Rash Watch ’08 Continues

I am thinking of switching to a new pediatrician. He said to call him in a week if E.’s condition hasn’t improved. It hasn’t improved at all and so I called the office this morning only to find out that the doctor is in Florida this week. Um, really? Why he didn’t bother to tell me that he was going to be out of town when I saw him last week?

Fortunately, this doctor is part of a large group practice. I called the nurse hot line they provide and the nurse is now checking with another doctor to see if he wants to prescribe a topical antibiotic as well. Apparently the bacteria are living under the yellow crusties on E.’s face and so it should help it if I scrub them off with antibacterial soap and then put this ointment on. I tried it this morning with some Neosporin. And do you know what I discovered? Babies with painful rashes don’t particularly like to have them scrubbed!

The nurse said that with impetigo it usually takes a full week for the scabs to go away. If they aren’t gone by Thursday, I think I’m going to take E. to a dermatologist.

It seems like quite a few people find this entry searching for pictures of babies with impetigo. In case you don’t read the other entries, it turned out that E actually had eczema that was misdiagnosed as impetigo and consequently allowed to developed a secondary infection. It took over five visits to different doctors (including the only pediatric dermatologist in my state) before it was figured out. If you have a baby with a worsening rash like E had and your doctor hasn’t mentioned the possibility of eczema, I would definitely ask specifically about it and/or find a doctor with a fair amount of experience with skin disorders. At the time I didn’t know better and E suffered needlessly for almost a month.

On an unrelated note, I think I’m going to start using my middle name when asked for a name by restaurants. We ordered some takeout over the weekend, and when I went to go pick it up there was confusion because on the phone they had misheard my name as “Stace.” Even though I spelled it out “F as in Frank, a-i-t-h.” When I got there it took over 5 minutes to sort it out. This morning the nurse also thought I said “Stace.” When asked for my name on the phone, I usually try and emphasize the F sound, but often to no avail. People even sometimes write it down as “Saith.” SAITH? I know that people in Utah are used to hearing all sorts of weird names, but Saith? C’mon!