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The Winter of Our Discontent

Song Lyric of the Day:

Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days / When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out

Twenty One Pilots / “Stressed Out

I’m over this winter. Normally I love winter since it’s cold and I can’t overheat like I do in late spring and then summer, but this winter has been miserable. Why exactly? Because Sebastian has been sick since January 12. I remember the date, because it was the day before Rich was due to leave for India for work for 13 days. Good timing. Sebastian woke up covered in vomit that morning, so we of course immediately thought “flu!” and rushed him to the doc. It turned out to be a stomach bug and a little cold. Rich felt better leaving for his trip knowing he was not leaving me with a flu-afflicted baby.

Sebastian then got a virus, which started clearing up after a few days. Meanwhile, as Rich was away and that always upsets the natural balance of things, Knoxville got snow. One whole inch of snow led to three school snow days in a row — combined with MLK Day that Monday, Coraline and I were home with her sick brother almost all week. At least she had school that Friday, albeit on a two-hour delay.

The second Sunday Rich was away, Sebastian got sick again and was so weak with fever and bordering on lethargic that I was positive his virus had turned into the flu. I called my mom to come sit with Coraline so I could take him to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital to get looked at. When I told Coraline that Abuela was coming to watch her so I could take her brother to the hospital to get checked out, my poor girl got hysterical. She adores her baby brother and has been terrified of him getting the flu since she knows it can be fatal for babies. I did my best to calm her down, although I ended up crying a little bit, too, since she was so upset. I reassured her that I was sure the docs at the hospital would tell me I was just being a paranoid mommy, but she replied with, “I just want to spend as much time with him as I can while I can,” as she went to embrace her brother. It’s not like hearing her say that, through sobs, ripped my heart out or anything. Mom got to our house in about a half hour (she ROCKS) and Sebastian and I left for the hospital. I managed to stake out a corner in the waiting room relatively away from other people; it was full that night, and half the kids were wearing face masks because of flu-like symptoms. We got there around 8:20PM and didn’t end up getting home until 12:55AM. Turns out it wasn’t the flu, just the first day of a new, second virus. Poor Sebastian had blood drawn and spent most of the night in my arms practically fainting from his fever.

The next week was a bit of a blur as Sebastian had me up several times every night. I took to calling him the Fever King since he had so many I lost count. I’m very fortunate in that my job is portable and I can work from home, so when Sebastian felt well enough to play I’d work. I’d then haul ass to get even more work done while he napped since that was my longest uninterrupted stretch during the day. But with a very sick baby who is very clingy when not feeling well, I ended up working most nights after the kids were in bed to finish what I couldn’t during the day. I’d wrap up working for the night between 10 and 11PM, then rush to do a few household things, then try to get an hour or two of sleep before Sebastian’s first wakeup. He’d inevitably wake up with a fever; we’ve gone through I don’t know how many bottles of Infants’ Tylenol and Infants’ Motrin these last few weeks.

Finally the Friday arrived when Rich was flying home. One hour before his scheduled landing, I was changing Sebastian’s diaper before heading to the airport when I noticed his torso was covered in a rash. Another call to the nurse triage line (my second or third at this point) followed. Rich landed safely and the nurse called back while we were at the luggage carousel. After I answered what felt like 100 questions, the nurse assured me she was certain it was Roseola, which meant that the virus was coming to an end. Finally, our little boy was going to be well again, right? Yeah, not so much.

Sebastian was still sick enough that I had to keep working from home with him, but now with Rich home again, he was able to work from home with him a bit so I could get in to the office a few days. Because things weren’t fun enough, Coraline’s school district canceled school Monday and Tuesday that week due to illness since so many kids and teachers were out with the flu (among other things). They had school Wednesday, only to have school canceled the remainder of the week. That weekend Sebastian got sicker — again.

As he was exhibiting flu-like symptoms again, back to the doctor we went. It wasn’t a virus this time, but his first-ever ear infection. He got prescribed an antibiotic, but a few days later somehow got sicker while on it. Back to the doc, where he got diagnosed with a double ear infection and put on a second, different antibiotic. And — because this has been the winter that keeps on giving — you guessed it, he got sicker. Back to the doc, where his doctor took one look in Sebastian’s ear and said it was so infected even a first-year med student could diagnose it. That’s right — his double ear infection had gotten worse while on the second antibiotic. Sebastian was then put on Augmentin, which eventually made progress on the ear infection while destroying his stomach in the process. His doctor had warned us how harsh it would be on Sebastian’s stomach, but boy, it was more vicious than we anticipated.

As I write this, a little more than seven weeks since Sebastian first got sick, he’s still not quite back to 100 percent. He’s pretty close, though — I’d put him around 90 percent. He went eight days before developing another fever this past Friday, but it was a low-grade one of 100 degrees. He also currently has a very runny nose and a little cough; the last few weeks he learned to recognize the Boogie Wipes package, so that’s made wiping his nose extra fun since he fights it. (I don’t know why since those wipes are awesome when you’re sick.) Best of all, he’s eating again. He had next to no appetite at his sickest; breastfeeding was all that was keeping him from dehydrating. And, if I’m honest, as a Puerto Rican, it freaked me out that he wouldn’t eat. When people don’t eat, it freaks us out. We need to feed you. Not eating is weird and scary. At least Sebastian would take his beloved pouches, which oftentimes were the only thing he’d eat for days on end.

I know things could have been much worse, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t the most stressed I’ve been in ages during Sebastian’s illnesses, particularly while Rich was out of the country. I made a point to thank Coraline for behaving so well while her dad was away, since she was a big help with her brother. I’m lucky that my parents and sister are in town (as well as close friends) and a phone call away if I need anything, like the night I needed to take Sebastian to the hospital. Now seven-plus weeks, three antibiotics, lots of Children’s Benadryl, Infants’ Tylenol, Infants’ Motrin, 4 negative flu tests, 4 negative RSV tests, and one negative strep throat test later, my baby is finally getting back to his normal, silly, noisy, bottomless eating pit, mess-making self.

Now if only it were spring …

Sebastian on the go
Taken when he felt good one morning, before he napped and woke up with a raging fever later that day (2/19/18).
Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2018 Patricia Lee

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