My reasons for sharing in this post my journey through sickness with my child are two-fold. One, it is a great release of emotion for me. Two, hopefully I can encourage another mom who may experience or has experienced a crisis where her children are concerned.
Last Monday, September 21, I took my three year old son, Luke, to the pediatrician’s office, thinking he had an ear infection. He had awakened fussy several times throughout the night, which was so unlike him. About three weeks before this, at his yearly check-up, he had fluid in his left ear and the doctor told me to watch for symptoms of an ear infection. So surely, this must be it, however, it turned out he did not have any ear infection at all. The doctor diagnosed him with impetigo around his nose and told me to use neosporin for that and gave me a decongestant for his runny nose. I took him home and doctored him up at bedtime, giving him the first dose of decongestant. Tuesday morning, I gave Luke a second dose of the decongestant and noticed around mid-morning, he started breaking out in a rash around his neck. The rash darkened through the day and spread to his groin area. My first thought was that he was having an allergic reaction to something, and I suspected the decongestant because I had not introduced him to any new food at all. I was concerned at this point, but not fretful.
When Luke woke up Wednesday morning, his face was swollen, including his lips and eyes. That was when I started to fret. I gave him Benadryl, which did not seem to really help him. His lips were so puffy that Luke could not hold saliva in his mouth and it drooled down his shirt. His mouth started getting crusty and cracked. I also noticed that he was tender to the touch. It was difficult to lift him, especially under the arms, into the bathtub or his car seat. He did not want me to hold him or dress him. I did not understand, and I became very frustrated. I called the doctor’s office and scheduled another appointment for him. This time, he was tested for strep, which came back negative. The doctor checked Luke’s throat and saw white puss, so she gave me an oral antibiotic. She also noticed the impetigo and gave me a prescription for an antiobiotic cream for his nose and right ear. She also felt he was having an allergic reaction to something, since the swelling only involved his face. I went home, feeling somewhat nervous about caring for this sick child. He was absolutely a pitifully sick child, and I felt so helpless to do anything for him. Wednesday was a terrible night. I was concerned he would stop breathing, for the swelling had increased, his appetite had decreased, and he just wasn’t himself. He awoke very often through the night, just in total misery. Brad and I did not sleep well either, concerned for him. We even started out sleeping in the room with him until he asked us to leave!
When I went in to check on Luke Thursday morning, his eyes were completely swollen shut and I noticed his forehead was red and peeling. The sight of him really frightened me, and I called his doctor’s office as soon as they opened and got an appointment for 10:30. I had asked Brad to go with me, as I was emotionally and physically exhausted. My mother was in town visiting with us and was planning to leave that morning to go home, but I asked her to stay home with our other children, Lindsay and Logan, because I did not want them exposed to a germy doctor’s office unnecessarily.
As I showered that morning, I sobbed and cried out to the Lord. He reminded me that He, too, has a Son, and He knows the heart of a parent for a child. That thought was so comforting to me, and God’s peace filled me, though I still had no idea what lay ahead. I repeated to myself 2 Timothy1:7 which says, “For God does not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, and love, and of a sound mind.”
When the doctor made an evaluation of Luke, he suggested right away that we go to the Children’s Hospital and have him admitted. He felt like Luke had something systemic going on in his body. He left the room to go make phone calls to the hospital, and I thought my world was falling apart. Brad called his mother and asked her to come relieve my mother and take over care of Lindsay and Logan. The doctor came back into the room and told us to go straight to the front desk at the hospital, for they would be expecting us.
The half hour drive to the hospital was quiet and tense. Here we had this very sick child, who was being so brave and so uncomplaining. He sure did not understand what was going on, but he completely trusted us to take care of him. I don’t think Brad and I spoke eight words to each other on the way to the hospital. For some reason, I grabbed Luke’s favorite CD of Wee Sing Bible Songs as we left the house for the doctor’s office. It is a comfort thing for him, and I realized it helped comfort me as we listened to the songs on the way to the hospital. Lines from two songs popped out at me: “He’s got the itty bitty baby. In His hands, he’s got the itty bitty baby.” and “It’s me, it’s me, it’s me, Oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer.” I knew God had His hand on my baby, and when I felt too weak to pray, I was comforted in believing that someone had to be praying for us.
We pulled up to the front door and Brad handed his car keys to a valet parking attendant and we were off. At the front desk, we had our pictures made for ID badges and a lady escorted us to Admitting and then to our room on the 8th floor. It was a very smooth and quick process, and I was so thankful to have been able to bypass the ER!
Lots of doctors and nurses streamed in and out of Room 8022. We were asked dozens of questions and finally a diagnosis was made: Staph Scalded Skin Syndrome, which is basically a staph infection of the skin. I was so relieved to have a diagnosis that had a cure: high dose antibiotics. Luke had probably picked up the staph bacteria on his fingers and introduced it into his body through the open wound around his nose. It was so scary to see how pitifully sick a microscopic bacteria could make my child. All this makes me want to keep my children in a bubble forever, but that is not reality.
About five torturous and unsuccessful attempts were made to insert an IV into Luke. A neonatal team and an anesthesia team were included in those who tried to find a vein. I was not present for the IV attempts, as I could not handle the pain and screaming of my own child. It about killed me not to be there, but I just couldn’t handle it. So I went and called a friend who prayed with me over the phone.
When I returned to Luke’s room, Brad told me the doctors had decided to schedule Luke for surgery to insert a PICC line. This news upset me terribly, although I was concerned about how they would get him hydrated and started on antibiotics. Finally late Thursday night, Luke was started on oral antibiotics and IM antibiotics (a shot in his muscle), which were given every eight hours. He never ran a fever, at home or in the hospital. He was given Lortab for pain and Benadryl for itching. He was in such discomfort that he had great difficulty in sleeping on his back, so most of the time he slept sitting up, eventually falling forward onto his stomach.
After pretty much a sleepless night for all three of us, Luke began wound care Friday morning to blisters on his arms, back, and rear end. We were told that Luke would look worse before he got better, and it was true. As the antibiotics were killing the staph, the bacteria released toxins which made Luke more red, blistered, and tender to the touch. Throughout the day, he started peeling severely, especially around his neck, mouth, eyes, underarms, and between his sweet little toes.
God’s Word is always a source of comfort, but in the midst of a crisis, His Word is all the more comforting. A recurring scripture reference kept coming up with different people we talked with. My husband’s aunt was lead to Psalm 91 after praying about how she could specifically pray for Luke. As she shared this with a prayer warrior friend, her friend also told her God had lead her to Psalm 91 in praying for Luke. This also happened to be the same place where Brad had been earlier in the week for a devotion. My mother mentioned this Psalm was on a bookmark she kept in her book and went to it to read it. We pulled out our Bible and read the chapter to Luke one night in the hospital, and how much peace it brought us! “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty…He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.” (Verses 1, 15, and 16)
Luke perked up some on Friday morning, which really encouraged us. I was so happy and so relieved to see a little improvement in him with the first dose of antibiotics, even though that improvement was not in the way he looked, but in the way he acted. He absolutely refused to wear any clothes on Friday because he could not stand the weight on his skin, so he kept his “Bobby” (the name for his favorite blanket) near by and allowed me to drape it over his shoulders when he complained of being cold. Luke was taking fluids very well orally, so the doctors saw no need to insert the PICC line, and I rejoiced!
Luke got conditioned to the point that whenever he heard his door open, he’d snap his head to the left to see who was coming in. If it was a nurse with something in her hand, he would get fussy. He said every time to every nurse that entered the room and stepped near his bed, “Mama do it.” He wanted me to take his vitals, handle his wound care, give him his oral antibiotics, and he even wanted me to give him his shot! The nurses were wonderful and allowed me to do everything, except the shot. In fact when a new nurse came on duty, she’d walk in the room and hand me the syringes with the oral antibiotics and ask me to get his temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure! Luke had gained a reputation!
After a really decent night’s sleep for all of us, Luke woke up Saturday morning acting a little quiet and tired. When the doctor came in that morning, I asked if Luke could leave his room and ride on one of the cars around the hallways. She agreed! I had to insist Luke put on his gown so we could go ride. He was all for it, and he had the best time! It was wonderful to hear him squeal and laugh up and down the halls. As I passed other children’s rooms, I had the opportunity to see children sicker than my own, and my heart was pricked with sadness for them. It made me even more thankful for God’s healing and blessing in Luke’s life.
My mother-in-law brought Lindsay and Logan to the hospital Saturday night for a visit. By then, Luke had been on antibiotics 48 hours, so he was ready to see his sister and brother. It did a world of good for Luke and Lindsay and Logan to be together again. Luke showed them his car, and they went for a spin. They ate dinner in the room with us, and it was nice to have some form of normalcy.
We all slept very well again Saturday night, which is truly a blessing for being in a hospital! A doctor of Infectious Diseases came by our room Sunday morning to evaluate Luke. He asked if he could take a couple of pictures of Luke’s neck for a slide presentation he would use in teaching about Staph Scalded Skin Syndrome. We agreed, so Luke’s illness is going to help doctors in training! By Sunday afternoon, we got word that Luke could be discharged if we felt comfortable, and boy were we comfortable! We were so happy to be going home! That news was music to our ears! We would be home back together as a family, and I could not wait!
When we got home around 5:00pm, Luke was sleepy so I put him down for a nap. He slept for a couple of hours until I woke him up for dinner and his antibiotics. He is currently on a course of antibiotics 3x a day for ten days. From what the nurses, doctors, and even the pharmacy technician told us, his antibiotics taste horrible, but Luke takes it so well. He just is not a complainer!
It was so wonderful to go to sleep in my own bed with my children back together under one roof! I praise God for what he brought us through, and I can’t wait to share with Luke one day all that God has done for him. God has a special plan for our little boy! Of that, I have no doubt! I also have no doubt that God’s power is awesome and amazing!
Luke is once again a lively, energetic, happy little boy! He is playing and fighting with his brother, and even that thrills me…a little. He still looks a little rough with his scabbed blisters and peeling, but he is on the mend and is healing day by day.
We are so thankful to our church for their steadfast prayers, visits, calls, e-mails, and meals made on our behalf! You are the best! We are also thankful to my mother, my mother-in-law, and my husband’s Aunt who came to help us with our children and got us back on a routine. I am grateful for our friends who prayed for us and with us and for your love and concern! May God bless you a hundred fold!