Friday, July 31, 2009
Having four kids ranging in age from 8 to 17 means I've seen a wide range of health issues. (not to mention my own amputee status). My little guy, Sam, is generally a really healthy kid. Besides a nice long set of ten stitches to the forehead in the spring and an incredibly mild case of asthma that almost never flares up, not much gets him down.
So when he started getting mystery fevers about two weeks ago, I was concerned. It started on a Wednesday when, out of the blue, with no other symptoms, he spiked a fever. But only for four hours. Then it went away and he felt fine and seemed fine. Until 24 hours later, when it would hit again. A three to four hour fever, usually around 103.5 that Tylenol would barely touch. Day after day, the same pattern.
By the fourth day we decided to skip the 'run its course' philosophy and get some professional help. Doc looked in all the right orifices and saw no troubling developments. No hint as to why he continued to have the daily four hour fever. So she put him on a mild course of antibiotics and we all hoped for the best.
And the best seemed to come. The fevers stopped a few days later and we had a nice long five day run of normal healthy kid status. During the healthy spell we went to New Hampshire for some pretty crazy family parties. He ran the bases in whiffle ball and jumped his legs off in the bounce house. It seemed our boy was back to good health.
Sunday morning he ran a 5K through the woods with his two brothers and his aunt and uncle. Auntie coached him with his breathing about halfway through, knowing it must be his asthma flaring up in the humid weather. He joined his brothers and his uncle in the winner's circle, claiming top time in his age class. We were even more confident that our boy was back to good health.
Monday rolled around and like a punch in the arm I got a call at work from my teen daughter. "Sam just threw up in the middle of Wal-mart and now he's burning up." Fever check - 103.5.
I made the appointment with doc but then canceled it the next morning when Sam had been perfectly fine for over 18 hours. Two hours later he calmly walked away from me in the bike store and threw up in their bathroom.
Then spiked a fever on the way home. You guessed it - 103.5.
I started to panic. My healthy kid had something going on but it was like nothing I'd ever seen before. In all of our weird medical dramas, we've never had a spiking fever that only lasted a few hours a day. No other symptoms. No other discomfort. I was afraid this was how the big bad scary stuff started.
We showed up at Doc's office first thing Wednesday morning. He ticked off the list of questions - "Ears hurt? Throat hurt? Coughing? Headache?" Every item on the list was a no. Peeks in all the same places showed no signs of ear or throat problems.
Then he got out the stethoscope. Concern crossed his face. We were marched down to the Xray room. Sam got to stand on a chair and wear a lead skirt while I stood behind a windowed wall and prayed he didn't fall off the chair and need more stitches.
Xray guy offered to let Sam 'see his guts' on the developed film and as soon as the light board clicked on I knew. My symptomless boy was walking around with a hidden boo boo. One lung was nice and black on the xray, meaning it was full of good air. The other had a top section that was black but a huge bright white area. Not good. White means fluid.
He had a classic case of pneumonia. And the only symptom his body gave us was a random out of control fever, once every 24 hours.
Bloodwork confirmed that my boy is fighting off some pretty big bugs. He's on a two week course of hard core antibiotics and I've been read the riot act about keeping him 'still' so he can recover. That's hard to do for a kid who doesnt really feel sick.
Looking back, the trouble on the 5K race course had little to do with asthma. It had a lot to do with the fact he was running with a lung full of fluid. He is so proud of the soda glass and tshirt he won in that race. He was encouraged and eager to run another one soon.
But first I will make him be 'still' for a bit. Let his body fight off this silent illness that crept in so mysteriously. Because who knows how fast he might be if he were running with two lungs full of air.