This is really simplifying things, but Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928. Then a lot of esteemed scientists did a bunch of other stuff and began producing antibiotics as we know them. Prior to World War II, bacterial infections of any kind were deadly. People dropped like flies from illnesses that we consider fairly treatable today.
In his 4 years on Earth, Bean has taken a boatload of antibiotics. I’m sure that his life has been saved many times by running IV antibiotics in a timely fashion. So. I am really, really thankful for antibiotics. They are seriously powerful medicines that we in the developed world are lucky to have easy access to. It’s too bad that we tend to abuse them, mostly by feeding them to animals, which is a whole other thing I really don’t approve of. And we also take far too many of them ourselves.
I keep a respectful distance from antibiotics, but I guess I’m not actually sick that much. (Hoping fate doesn’t strike me down with some horrific illness for even saying such a thing) Last week, though, I learned that my son is a person who needs antibiotics.
On Thanksgiving Sunday, Gavin woke up feeling normal and went about his morning routine. At lunchtime, he picked at his sandwich, and then wanted to lie down. And go to sleep. Uh-oh. This has happened enough that I now know that barfing is close behind. Sure enough, awhile later he got up and vomited everywhere. And the vomiting continued for over 24 hours. We tried to keep him hydrated and his fever wasn’t too high.
A day later he felt well enough to try eating again, and then continued to vomit. For another 24 hours. Monday passed, and Tuesday too, in a haze of barf and dry heaves. We tried to keep him hydrated with every hydrating drink out there. Anyone who has actually got their child to drink more than a litre of Pedialyte, please tell me how you did it. Every time that I thought, Oh, he’s feeling better now, he hasn’t been sick for six or seven hours, he would suddenly get quiet, need to lie down and then start again.
On Wednesday morning, as we approached the 36-hour mark, I decided that enough is enough and took him to his pediatrician. She noticed that his ear looked infected, and offered some antibiotic drops to put in his ear. We both agreed that he would not be able to keep oral antibiotics down. I bought some $50 drops and took Gavin home. He vomited in the car and went back to sleep. He woke up, vomiting again and then I became seriously concerned about hydration. Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to emerg I go.
I don’t want an IV, Gav pleaded in the car on the way there. We got into a room and saw a doctor quickly. Luckily, she was a calm lady who listened as I explained that Gav’s neurosurgeon had just told us, the week before, that if Gavin’s shunt were blocked, we would notice fluid bulging in the area of his skull defect. He had told us not to rush into CT without addressing all other issues first. You may remember, back in May, that we had a very similar trip to the ER which ended in a CT. Which was extremely stressful for all involved, but only showed us that Gavin had an ear infection. Our nice ER doc checked Gavin’s ear and agreed that it looked quite infected. Of course Bean had only mentioned once, in passing, that his ear hurt.
She insisted that he take a full round of amoxicillin, and also informed me that the drops would not be useful in his case. Huh. He got his first dose of amox in at the hospital, and of course it promptly came up. Craig had joined me there after work and we debated – do we take him home? Is he okay? The doctor thought that he was okay. She said, “We are here if you need us. You can always come back.”
Thursday morning there was more vomiting. I was in despair. Gavin had not eaten for four days. I kept dosing the Pedialyte at five-minute intervals, hovered over him and tried not to brood and read frightening Internet facts. Then the lunchtime dose stayed down. That evening he demanded Vegemite on toast and ate it all. It stayed down.
Friday morning it was like it all never happened. Can I go to school today? he asked. Uh, not quite yet Beanie. He started riding his bike around the house and ate many carbs. He has lost 3 pounds and has yet to gain it back. We have been trying to fatten him up by encouraging french fries and the like.
I’ve learned two things from the experience:
1. Gavin vomits when he has an ear infection
2. Amoxicillan is extremely effective in treating ear infections
My own levels of stress have slowly spiraled down from high-alert and are now hanging out at medium-alert, where I usually am. Of course, Craig knocked over a glass last night and I burst into tears, so perhaps I should do some deep-breathing. Or get a manicure or something.