Summertime viruses make me queasy
Throats are hurting and the fevers run high
L, your daddy’s scared and mom called the doctor
With all of your family standing by . . .
Three days ago L woke up with the most fussiness we’ve ever seen in him. He was so upset we thought he was constipated or teething, and he was struggling so much that we tried a glycerin suppository for constipation only to realize that his stool was soft and there was no constipation at all, no, our little guy was starting to burn up and his temperature was climbing to a steamy 103.4. Jiminy Cricket! Did I feel guilty and horrible for misreading the cues or what?
For the next two days his fevers continued to spike and we learned that here was attack of the Coxsackievirus. First it came with a fever that responded only briefly to Tylenol, and it hit harder by showing me a baby who did not want to eat anything, had horrid white spots in his throat, and was drooling all day to excess just to avoid having to swallow his own secretions.
I was totally terrified that something worse could be happening – of course with excessive drooling a doctor mom would think the worst – which would be worrying about hemophilus influenzae epiglottitis – which is a complicated way of describing an illness which used to cause swelling of the epiglottis (that lovely muscle that prevents food from going down the wrong pipe) and used to put children in severe danger — that is, before the advent of the Hib vaccine. Thankfully, this is a disease that is now rare . . but I was scared of this being what L had.
But no, I learned from his doctors, he was suffering from something much more common: Coxsackievirus, which is a virus that circulates commonly in the summer and can cause hand-foot-mouth disease and can also cause something called herpangina, which were those painful mouth blisters which L was suffering from. Lest I repeat information that is already well presented elsewhere, here are some great links with information on Coxsackievirus and what to do about it.
In the case of L, time was of the essence – in the sense that we simply had to allow for the passage of time for his body to heal. He remained well hydrated throughout the illness, as exemplified by his numerous wet diapers and all that excessive drooling that I saw. The fevers normalized by day two of illness and what really helped him eat during the last day or two was a well timed dose of ibuprofen, which likely decreased the pain and swelling in his throat significantly, allowing him to take in small amounts of soup. But remember, ibuprofen should not be used in children under 6 months old!
I knew that the worst was over when L woke up this morning and looked at me, smiling, and said “Hi!” While he has taken advantage of this period of illness to nurse to his heart’s content – and to eat whatever he wants, which at this point includes ice cream and tortilla chips – I am noticing few setbacks on other fronts.
For example, we sat him on the toilet when he woke up this morning and he promptly did #1! I’m still amazed at how well “elimination communication” is working for us. Sure, it isn’t 100% – actually much less of the time that he is able to go in the potty and not in a diaper. But given that he is 17 months old I think we are in good stead to hope that he may be potty trained by two years, if we are lucky. Here’s crossing my fingers!