Thursday, June 3, 2010

Medical May

It's June 1st and frankly I'm happy to see May in the rear view mirror. It was filled with more trips to the doctor and hospital than I am comfortable with in a year. At the end of April, I signed up the take the hospital tour sponsored by the Health Unit. We saw the two approved hospitals--Hospital de los Valles in Cumbaya and Hospital Metropolitanto in Quito. Both good facilities that I felt comfortable using if it came to that. Little did I know, less than a week later, I would find myself with a nasty case of food poisoning. Hospital tour came in handy sooner than planned. After a consult with the health unit, we packed everyone up and headed down to Cumbaya. I don't recommend getting food poisoning while breastfeeding--recipe for disaster. My white blood cell count was elevated and my fever spiked in the ER while Tristan was signing my admission papers and I was trying to feed Lillian who was screaming. Horrible 24 hours. After three liters of saline, antibiotics, anti-nausea meds, and pain killers, I returned home with an empty gut, some new vocabulary and an appreciation for my family and the ability to pay for good medical care in the developing world.

The next week, we had Lillian's 4 month check-up where the heart murmur we already knew about was a bit more pronounced than the Embassy Nurse Practitioner was comfortable with. Off to the pediatric cardiologist this time, Dr. Davalos, who it turns out was trained in the US, worked at Buffalo Children's Hospital, speaks perfect English, and married an American. An EKG and ECHO later, we've learned Lillian has a small Atrial Septal Defect in the Secundum area of the heart of 0.4 centimeters which should resolve itself in the next year. Lillian was extremely well behaved during the ECHO and actually enjoyed watching her heart on the monitor. It was like TV for her which she has come to like a little too much and Mom and Dad use to calm the screaming baby more often than we should.

Then came this past weekend. After 12 weeks of Lillian's bloody stools and other issues I won't discuss further in public, I finally had had enough. I've been been trying to connect her symptoms with what I've been eating. To make sure she wasn't anemic, we had a CBC done which turned up an alarmingly low platelet count. We were looking at medivac and other issues over the weekend. Luckily a manual count showed a more normal range but some other numbers that were off, most likely related to the GI bleeding. Yesterday, we met with the Embassy Nurse Practitioner to talk about what we knew and what we need to do. I also called our pediatrician in Seattle who said this might be something we just have to live with and should resolve itself by age one. I'd cut my diet down to chicken and black beans and still couldn't figure it out. Being hungry and worrying about your kid makes for a super cranky Mommy. Our Seattle doc said I should eat--stay away from milk and soy but eat again and chalk it up to experience. The good news is it's super frustrating but not life threatening--just makes Mommy upset everytime I change a diaper!

I'm stubborn so I still want to figure out what foods are still bugging her. Cutting out citrus but adding back in pork and other proteins this week. Hopefully this will resolve itself soon and I can stop stressing over the whole thing. We are going to connect with a local pediatric gastroenterologist next week so if anything does get worse, we'll have that relationship established. More medical adventures than I ever thought we'd see this year. It's been a roller coaster--partly being a new parent, partly normal worry, and partly the challenge of living in the developing world. Thanks to everyone who has been so supportive. Fingers crossed things are looking up!

I'm looking forward to R&R in August and the calendar is already filling up with doctors' appointments for Lilly while we're home. Going to have her heart checked just to make sure it's as diagnosed here and won't be complicated by living at 9300 feet. Thank goodness, Tristan didn't get food poisoning and all this will pass. I leave behind May with an appreciation for overall good health and a happy family.


Rachel said...

Oh, Caroline. What a month for you all. I cannot imagine what you must have been feeling through all of it. Please know that you, Tristan, and Lilly remain on my mind and in my heart. Peace and strength to you all.

Nanna said...

I'm sorry to hear all of this. It must have been a rough month of May. I hope June will treat you all better and that the visits to the doctors here in Seattle will resolve all the issues. Stay strong.

Susan K. said...

OMG, don't know how you have been able to keep it together. We are continuing to keep you all in our prayers. It's not life threatening and August will be coming. Meanwhile lots of love, hugs, kisses and good healthy thoughts for all of you.