Thursday, May 14, 2009

I am never going on vacation again.

Let's sum up, shall we? I'm in sort of a codeine/prednisone-induced fog, so we'll see how well this goes....

I got strep two weeks before we were to leave on vacation. I wish I'd griped when my doctor handed me a prescription for a z-pack. Azithromycin is good stuff. And because it was strep, I didn't quibble. But I was also starting to cough, which is not normally a symptom of strep, so I was afraid I was going to be back in the doctor's office at the end of the next week, announcing the strep had triggered my sinus infection out of dormancy.

We drop the Fries off with my parents two Sundays later, with Small Fry having what the on-call nurse at the pediatrician's office says is the toddler flu bug that's going around. (I was still coughing, but hoped the salty air and the probable amounts of salt water I'd come in contact with would clear out my sinuses.)

Then Mom has to take Small Fry to the clinic on Monday and Wednesday, for bilateral ear infection the first visit and teeth into her tongue the second.

I got back to Mom and Dad's on the fifth, and had a harrowing re-entry into motherhood. I called the pediatrician soon after arriving to arrange a visit for Small Fry's tongue (which now had a nifty little flap sticking up and she wasn't wanting to eat anything that wasn't soft) the next afternoon. Then I got to tell the Fries' father that he couldn't come over to Mom and Dad's to wash clothes in their machines because I was doing MY laundry. He didn't even ask about his kids. I still had my cough, though, which I wasn't too thrilled about.

So, on Wednesday, Mom and I took Small Fry back to Chambersburg to see our pediatrician. Apparently this will take a bit longer than a week to heal completely, and will have to heal from the bottom up. We were advised to keep giving her soft foods and supplement with Pediasure if we were concerned she wasn't getting enough nutrition. And, of course, call if there's anything that concerns us about it again and monitor her tongue for possible infection.

Thursday found me driving back into Chambersburg for my final post-op appointment. I ended up having an hour-long conference call with my office and a caregiver who couldn't get it through her head that, yes, we really did pay her right. (Part of the problem was she had submitted a timesheet with two days on it that weren't even in the pay period, and so she was sure we'd shorted her.) That hour cut into the time I was going to use to go grocery shopping, since the state of our pantry was pathetic, having been pared back to nearly nothing in prep for being gone for nearly two weeks. I barely had time for a mad dash to pick up enough stuff to get me through until Saturday afternoon when I could do a more thorough job after Hubby got home. (I am healing very well, by the way, and beyond the point where doing something stupid could cause me harm. Pain, perhaps, but not harm.)

I managed to avoid getting too sunburned in Florida, but made up for that sitting outside Friday morning with the kids as they played; I didn't plan for us to leave until after lunch. I knew there'd be some separation anxiety, and figured it'd be easier all around if they could nap on the ride home. As it turned out, Large Fry screamed and cried so much for Gramma and Boppa that we had to sit in the driveway for ten minutes while some major-league consoling went on, with Gramma saying she would come see them the next day (which was true; Mom was coming out for the Mother's Day Tea at my church). We finally left, and Large Fry cried and cried and snuffled and I heard the first snore before we got to Rossville, barely six miles from my folks'.

There was much rejoicing when the kids saw Gramma the next day. I put them all in their Easter dresses for the event, so that Gramma could see how cute they are:

But, of course, cuteness is not enough. Mom gave me a framed copy of a picture of all three girls as my Mother's Day gift, and had even enlisted the girls' help in making their card for me. Priceless.

I could have done without the adventure that Medium Fry instigated, though. I had poured a cup of VERY hot water out of the carafe and was trying to get my tea bag loose from the paper wrapping, and I thought the styrofoam cup was far enough away that Medium couldn't reach it, despite being on my lap. Wrong! She went into stealth-toddler, got her little fist around the lip of the cup, and yanked. Towards us, of course. Hot water rushed towards us and Medium screamed as it hit her dress and soaked through to her skin. I had the presence of mind to pull the skirt away from her body and was starting to unbutton it when one of the other ladies dashed over. She's an ER nurse, and she helped me get Medium's dress off and then ran to the kitchen for some dish towels soaked in cool water. We wrapped one around her tummy and draped the other over her legs. I held her as she sniffled and cried and occasionally looked at me with BIG eyes and said, "Hot tea!" Then we went to go find Unca D (who was working in his office during the tea) to get some consoling. (I admit, I needed it too.) Medium Fry turned out to be none the worse for wear, not even a mark by the time we left, and I was glad I'd had the presence of mind to tuck her duckie into the diaper bag before we left the house. I gave that to her when she was done inhaling Ande's mints, and she was out like a light in about two minutes. (Although, hefting around nearly thirty pounds of sleeping Medium Fry is a lot harder than it sounds.)

I made everyone lay down for a nap once we got home, because I needed one too. I slept a lot longer than I thought, and so did the kids, since it was nearly six by the time we all woke up. I was coughing even worse, and then Small Fry felt like a furnace when Hubby brought her in to snuggle with me.

We opted against the Saturday night baths, and I quickly decided that between my hacking cough and elevated temperature and Small Fry's now-confirmed 100+ fever, us girls were not going to church in the morning. Small Fry wouldn't eat or drink, not even her Pediasure, which she loved, by Sunday afternoon. And both Sunday and Monday nights, Hubby had to cradle Small Fry against his chest for several hours until she was out deeply enough to sleep in her crib.

Of course, given that Murphy's Law especially finds its way into life with kids, on Monday I'm coughing so hard I'm shaking the bed, I'm running a fever, my throat's raw, I've got a kid who will hardly eat or drink, and payroll week. So on Monday I went to the walk-in clinic at my doctor's office (helpfully, my friend Jay said it was just a hairball and I should hack it up), only to have them confirm Jay's diagnosis and tell me I'm just broncho-spastic and not in need of an antibiotic. Which, of course, does not explain my fever or the stuff getting hacked out of my chest along with my lungs trying to work their way out, too. But whatever. Cough syrup with codeine (I was advised to use it for nighttime), tessalon pearls, and a tapering course of prednisone to settle down, relax and open up my poor, overworked and overwrought bronchioles.

Tuesday, I'm calling the pediatrician for Small Fry. Again. We get a morning appointment, and surprise, surprise. Small's got strep! No wonder she wouldn't eat or drink. Her throat hurts too much. Back to Target for more drugs. I get everyone down for naps and spend an hour and a half trying to fix my printer, getting it all back together and then realizing I'm going to have to go up and cuddle Small Fry so she'll actually get a little of a nap. Her crying has awakened Medium Fry now, who sits there and jabbers at me while I get Small to doze for about thirty minutes. Better than nothing. And then Medium makes a weird, out-of-the-blue comment. "My neck hurts," she says, and points to the side, near as I can tell, when I ask where. She doesn't say anything else, and so I dismiss it, but I know how contagious strep is, and I make a mental note to check later.

"Later" comes about 6:45 that night, after Hubby has gone off to rehearsal. My throat is burning like it's on fire every time I cough, which is often, I'm living on cough drops, Small Fry is clingy and feverish and we've watched Cinderella six times so far in the last two days. And Medium Fry says it again. "My neck hurts." Okay, she's not one to volunteer odd information, her random quotes of "Daniel prayed to God" notwithstanding, so I carefully watch her and ask where. She immediately taps her throat.


I fetch the flashlight. Sure enough, red at the back of her throat, white patchy tongue, really mild fever. And I remember, she didn't eat her lunch. At all. She ate dinner, but then, pizza apparently has it all over PB&J. I call the pediatrician's answering service, who put me in touch with the on-call nurse, who in turn calls the on-call doctor, and then the nurse calls me back to say they've called in a script for Medium Fry.

Goody. Just ONE problem.

I am housebound. Hubby's got the car.

Hmmm. Call Friend 1. She's not home. Call Friend 2, S. The one who's done so many zillion favors for me since the surgery that I didn't call her first because I hated to ask for one MORE thing. I explain my situation; I need either her or her hubby, T, to go to Target and pick up Medium's script. Thankfully, the military health insurance the kids are under means that the script will cost less than $5. She agrees to send T over, and there's no small amount of confusion when he asks for Medium's script by our last name as opposed to the girls'. But he's able to get it, and swings it right by the house, and I promptly go shoot the first dose into Medium's mouth. After all, Boppa is coming to visit in the morning (Gramma is too sick to come) to help me out because it's payroll week and I'm on the verge of coming unglued. I tell T I'd invite him in, but I haven't fumigated yet, and he laughs. I thank him profusely and say I'll get their three bucks to them soon enough. I have such wonderful friends.

I got about four and a half hours of sleep after I finished work for the night before Small Fry woke, screaming, and Medium Fry (who sleeps through darn near anything) woke up screaming right afterwards.

Dad is pulling into the driveway yesterday morning as I'm on the phone with Mom, confirming that what I saw in the sink that morning (after discourteously shoving Large Fry out of the way because I was coughing too hard to say any words) is definitely a good reason to call the doctor back and explain I've got two kids down with strep, my throat is STILL killing me, I'm living on cough drops and cold drinks (they feel good on my poor throat), and now I've got definitive proof there's some kind of infection lurking somewhere. Would they be good enough to call in an antibiotic for me so that I don't have to go back in and be seen? The PA I saw on Monday, of course, does not come in until noon. The nurse calls me back and says he's approved a z-pack script for me.


I kindly explain to the nurse that I would much prefer something else, and something for ten days. She kindly explains back, in that I-can't-believe-you're-questioning-this tone, that azithromycin stays in the system for ten days after you're done. I know that, I say. But not only did I just have a z-pack for strep a scant month ago, but I know my sinus icks, and they do not respond well to z-packs. The nurse counters that this is the favored antibiotic for both strep and sinus infections. I point out that the last time I took a z-pack for a sinus infection, I was back in the office two weeks later with a nasty ear infection, and I want to be sure this combo platter I've got cooking is going to be GONE. She says she'll check with him and call me back. I have learned well to be proactive about my health from my mother, I guess, because when the nurse calls back a few minutes later, she says I've got a ten-day course of Avelox waiting for me. I thank her profusely, and finish payroll while Boppa, wearing a mask and toting his Purell, makes PB&J sandwiches (I figured he could handle that) and supervises lunch. Medium is begging to go to sleep by the time I'm done, so I just take her right up to bed. She whimpers that she wants her twin upstairs next, and I say that's what we're doing. By the time I get the kids in bed and see Dad off (Mom was giving him step-by-step instructions for how to de-germ himself before leaving the house, and so I offered to spray Lysol ahead of him the whole way out, which got us a good laugh), I figure I now need a nap.

However, it was not to be. Stupid prednisone. Mom's taken enough of that; she warned me that it would give me trouble sleeping. Even with the drowsiness from the codeine in the cough syrup, I can't nod off. I hear Hubby get home and mosey down the stairs about twenty minutes later to go back to Target yet again.

As I walk up to the counter to pick up my meds, the tech says, "I'll be right with you." I wearily looked at her. "I'm getting really tired of seeing you guys," I say. The pharmacist on duty chuckles; she's not the one who's been there the last two days, but she is the one who was on duty the Sunday before we left for vacation and I came in and picked up four prescriptions. "You're never going to go on vacation again," she comments. "No kidding." I sign for and pay for my drugs. "I'll probably be back in a few days; I think my three-year-old is next." The ladies commiserate, and I quickly swing through the grocery section to pick up some stuff for dinner, hoping lasagna will entice Small Fry to actually eat. I forget to get more cough drops, which I'm running woefully low on. The kids nap for quite a long time, and they end up going to bed late, and I'm so frazzled that I called and snapped at Hubby that he'd better be on his way home soon and that tomorrow he can't go to rehearsal with the guys because (a) we've got two sick kids, and (b) I need a day to spend in bed trying to recuperate. And then I hang up. I do billing and drag myself up to bed, only to not be able to sleep. At 1:15a, I'm in the car, driving to Giant, hoping they're open 24 hours, not caring how I look, and buying cough drops.

I didn't realize until this morning that I bought the ice blue ones rather than the straight menthol that I normally prefer. I do not care.

Hubby chastises me when I try to get out of bed; I explain I've still got to write the employee newsletter. I take my laptop back to bed with me and I've spent the whole day here. Mostly here, anyway. I could tell first thing this morning that I'd done the right thing in calling the doctor and getting meds for me; I felt better this morning than I had in days. Still coughing, but not as often, not as hard, and it doesn't feel like liquid fire in my throat like it used to. Strep and a sinus infection. Am I good or what?

So, I've spent the day writing the newsletter, answering a few calls, trying to nap and feeling drowsy enough to do so but apparently too loaded on prednisone to actually heed the call of the codeine, playing horribly at Bejeweled Blitz!, and reading all of maybe six pages in the mystery paperback that I bought last week. I just can't get into it, even though the story is good so far. Mika periodically comes in to check on me and snuggle, but he seems to know I'm not as bad off as I was yesterday, when I thought for sure he'd walk off me in a huff after shaking him so badly as I coughed. Today he's not so tolerant of my coughing earthquake messing up his cuddle time.

Thankfully, today is the first step-down day on the tapering of the prednisone, so I don't have to take anything close to bedtime like I did last night (probably part of my problem). And it's time for more cough syrup. (It's really weird having to squirt that stuff into my throat with a syringe like I do for the kids.) can see...vacation is apparently a bad idea. Or at least, a two-week one is. I'm going to heed the call of the codeine and try to get some sleep. Thankfully, I know that laying in bed and resting is almost as good as sleep when you're sick, and I'm immensely grateful that Hubby munchkin-wrangled by himself for the whole day.

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