We started the girls at a preschool two mornings a week at the beginning of the month, and despite my certainty that S would freak out at being left alone, it has worked out wonderfully. S especially loves it, even telling us, “I busy” when we come pick her up. V likes it, too, but she’s happy to go home when we show up.
The down side is that, like a day cares and preschools, it is full of germs and viruses. They are good about encouraging handwashing and such, but please, the kids are 2 and most of them have runny noses. So the girls have had runny noses, too, pretty much since they started. S developed a wet cough about a week ago. And also both girls sprouted toddler molars, adding to the unpleasantness. S was drooling so bad for a couple days that it was fairly pointless to wipe her mouth. On Thursday last week things seemed to be calming down so I took the girls to preschool in the morning. V was sad to see me go, but I called to check on her a little while later and the teacher said she was fine but had fallen asleep on her during story time. Later that afternoon it became clear she was coming down with something (again) and was cranky, had a fever, and a runny nose. Coincidentally they already had an appointment with their pediatrician on Friday, so I didn’t even have to decide whether to try to make one!
I (tried to) cave in to Mike’s mom’s demands to get some cough medicine for S on Thursday, but then found out that cold medicines of all stripes are off limits for kids under 4. So I happily continued letting her cough (not that badly and not that often) and put Vicks Vap-o-rub (which is now only approved for kids over 2) on her chest as I’d been doing. It gave her a minor rash, but she has sensitive skin and I decided the rash wasn’t bad enough to stop applying the Vicks.
Thursday night V didn’t sleep well, but her fever never went over 102. She didn’t want to take any acetaminophen, which she usually gobbles down like candy, but since her fever wasn’t that high, we didn’t worry about it. (If left to my own devices I’d give the girls fever-reducing medicines a lot less than I do. I think fever is ok as long as it isn’t too high or causing other problems.)
At the doctor appointment on Friday, the pediatrician saw S’s rash and said that it wasn’t a reaction to the Vicks but instead to the virus they have, Roseola, a common childhood virus that they almost certainly got at preschool.
She also found that V had an ear infection. The ear infection could be either viral or bacterial; if it was viral, then there’s no medication, but bacterial ear infections respond well to antibiotics. I’m against antibiotics except when there is clearly a bacterial infection, but the doctor did a good job of convincing me that this particular ear infection was probably bacterial (in her experience, from the way it looked). So she proscribed Amoxicillin, in liquid form, and V was to take it twice a day for 10 days.
So that night we gave her her first dose, or at least we tried. Just like the acetaminophen, she refused to take it. We tried a variety of increasingly awful methods to get her to take it, culminating in the ultimate: squirting it down her throat and holding her nose to make her swallow. She threw it up. She of course also continued to refuse the acetaminophen. Her fever stayed below 102, but she slept poorly and we slept hardly at all.
Saturday morning, we called Mike’s parents to come over and help, so that we could sleep during the day. V continued to refuse medication, and her fever stayed under 102. I spent a while on the phone with our social worker and various associates and friends with medical/sick kid experience. Our pediatrician’s office is unavailable nights and weekends, which is a crappy situation that I’ve known about, but luckily never really needed until now. I also called the local urgent care facilities asking if they took our girls’ insurance, Medi-Cal (provided by the state because they are foster kids). None of them did. So when V’s fever rose to 104 on Saturday afternoon, we were left with the primary health care option available to poor sick people in the US: the emergency room.
It really frustrates me to no end. This was no emergency. She was not bleeding profusely or about to die. I needed help getting a toddler to take medicine that she was refusing, and I needed some medical supervision for her until her fever went down. There’s no reason this couldn’t have been dealt with more cheaply (for taxpayers who are going to be footing the bill) and less stressfully. These kids are wards of the state, and it is sad that they are required to see an (otherwise wonderful) pediatrician who isn’t available on nights or weekends. The system is designed for foster parents who need urgent but non-emergency medical care for their foster kids on nights or weekends to take them to the emergency room. SO STUPID. There’s not even a nurse on duty to answer questions and give advice about when to head to the emergency room and when to wait until Monday morning.
The ER at the hospital near our house is very nice and from what we hear, not usually too busy. Saturday night it was pretty busy, so I suppose we were pretty lucky that we were out of there within 3 hours. But they didn’t have room for us, so even after we saw the doctor, we spent almost the whole time in a hallway of the ER.
The admitting nurse quickly gave up trying to get V to take acetaminophen orally (which made me feel good that I wasn’t just being lame about it) and gave her a suppository instead. I later found out that you can just buy suppositories of acetaminophen at the drugstore, which I wish I’d known a couple days earlier when she could have used some to help her sleep. The doctor we eventually saw confirmed the ear infection and prescribed her with an antibiotic given via shot, so we’d be able to give up on our failed attempts to get her to take the amoxicillin.
Saturday night went better with the sleeping than Friday did (for us, more than for them). Sunday morning V was feeling better and we even went out for a brief shopping trip. She hasn’t had much appetite since Friday, but she drinks water and occasionally eats a meal reasonably well. The antibiotics are upsetting her stomach, so that’s not surprising.
Sunday night she slept pretty well. She had a fever of just over 102, so we gave her another dose of the acetaminophen suppository (after giving her the choice of taking it orally). I was up with her for an hour around 1 am, and Mike got up with her around 6 am. No chance of preschool for her this morning, so I kept them both home. V has been clingy and had a bad runny nose all morning, but no fever so far today. She’s been napping as I’ve been writing this post, but I’ve had to stop twice to go put her back to sleep when she wakes herself up by snoring.
We are leaving for a week in Hawaii on Wednesday. Mike has business to do, and the girls and I (and his mom and dad) are joining us to help me take care of the girls while he is working. It should be a fun trip as long as V can get through her Roseola/ear infection before we leave! I’m worried about her ear hurting from pressure changes during takeoff and landing, but we at least have non-stop flights and she’s never had that problem before. I’ll bring along drinks and snacks for her to chew and suck on to try to help during those periods.