Another Health Wreck

That’s what this whole series of events surrounding Rachel’s birth has grown into.  I don’t know how in the world I manage to have the health wreck of the century twice in 5 years (the last time was in ‘08 with pancreatitis).  It’s not a status I recommend achieving, that’s for sure.

The saga so far has been that I developed the grand-daddy of all colds about a week before Rachel was born.  It was about at it’s peak of severity when she was born.   A few days after that, before she was a week old, I developed a roaring case of mastitis that had advanced to alarming proportions in just a few hours.  I went to the hospital, supposing to get some IV antibiotics and be back home in 23 hours or less.  That turned into several days of being in the hospital and the doctors were so afraid the infection would get to my blood stream.  By the grace of God, it did not.  I was discharged on a Thursday evening with a PICC line and home IV’s of antibiotics (vancomycin).  It was so good to be home, even if I did have to fiddle with IV’s every 8 hours and care for the PICC line.

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On the Monday following that discharge, I noticed that my infection just didn’t seem to be getting any better, and I felt worse in general.  That night, I started running a fever.  I called my doctor, and he seemed baffled and a bit alarmed and told me to go the the ER.  I felt so badly, I didn’t want to go anywhere.  I drug myself around and we headed in there in the middle of the night.  At the doctor’s suggestion, we left Rachel at home.  We had roused my mom in the middle of the night to come over and take care of everyone.

I was so discouraged, going back in there, and I was scared I was going to die from some untreatable infection.  After spending the rest of the night in the ER, I felt encouraged since the two doctors taking over my case seemed confident I would get better.  However, all day and all night for what seemed like endless days and nights, I just ran cycle after cycle of fevers, despite more and different antibiotics.  And of course the doctors test and scan and MRI and all that whether you have a fever or not.  And I couldn’t sleep when I was shaking to death with fevers, nor when I was pouring sweat when it finally let up hours later.  And, when I felt like I didn’t have a fever, it was almost always still 101 or 102.  That fever business was nearly unparalleled misery, at least in my experience.  Finally, on Friday morning, after a night of severe fevers, my doctor noticed a rash.  He seemed so relieved, and stated it was an allergy to the vancomycin.  He stopped giving that to me right away.  I had one more fever after that, but he also started scheduled Tylenol every 4 hours to keep the fevers down.

During this time, Andrew would bring Rachel into the hospital in the evenings and largely take care of her through the night there for me while I was miserable.  Sometimes when I wasn’t shaking to death with a fever, and had not yet fallen asleep before the next one started, he put her up beside me on the bed so we could be close to each other.  Whenever I felt up to it, if she was hungry, I nursed her.  Other times, if I felt like I could sit up for a little, I would pump, and then Andrew would feed her pumped milk when she got hungry.

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I finally realized Rachel was growing up without any pictures of her!  I decided to snap a few of her in the hospital.

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Andrew took her to her 2-week checkup on Friday morning.  She weighed in at 7 lbs. 5 oz., and the doctor was very pleased since the goal is for them to reach their birthweight by 2 weeks.  (She was 6 lbs. 13 oz. when she was born.)  So, even though she’s not at the top of the heap for size, she’s doing great.  That made me feel good.

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Sunday morning, which was Mother’s Day, Andrew brought the kids in to eat breakfast with me.  Of course, my breakfast was over, but I enjoyed having them there and eating their bananas, cheese, and mini doughnuts in my room.  They also brought a lovely bouquet of irises from our yard, complete with cards they had made.  I loved it all, but the cards were the best.

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Soon before they got there, the doctor came in and said I could go home that day. So, we got everything packed and loaded up, and traveled home as a family. (It was the first time since Rachel’s birth that we all rode together somewhere!)

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I was plum worn out before we even left the hospital, but it was so good to be back home again, with everyone under the same roof.

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My mom has been here every weekday from first thing in the morning until mid to late afternoon (and later when necessary).  We try to figure out ways for her not to come on the weekends so she can do things at her home and have a break from the high-energy child atmosphere.

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My misery didn’t end upon coming home, unfortunately.  Part of the allergic response to vancomycin is joint pain and muscle pain.  Those two things just increased and increased the longer I was home, every single joint and every single muscle hurting despite using Tylenol.  At times, it was #8 or 9 pain just to get up from a sitting position, or get out of bed, or pick up Rachel.  I loathed moving.  On Tuesday morning I noticed my lips were swollen and my throat was swollen.  As much as I did not want to, I did call my doctor.  He started me taking 30 mg of prednisone twice a day (60 mg total in a day).  I can’t tell you how much I didn’t want to do that.  I’m doing it anyway.  It has eliminated the throat swelling, and all the joint and muscle pain.  I feel a lot better now.  It has not alleviated any of the rash or itching, but at least I don’t have every part of this going on right now.

Feeling more mobile and less painful last evening, I took the kids on a short walk to splash in mud puddles (we’ve been having good rains here).

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Whatever free time Paul missed while we were thick into homeschool this past winter, he has more than recovered in the last several weeks.

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Hannah and Marie love being little mommies to Rachel more than anything else.  They always want to hold her, and they do a good job of it.

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Paul drew a picture of a race helicopter.

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I am enjoying being home, and really enjoying having no pain.  However, this itchy rash has not stopped getting worse.  The doctor says it will last 2 weeks from the time I stopped taking the vancomycin.  I’m trying not to count the days but just take it one day at a time and try to distract myself from the itchiness of it.  For those of you who have had this kind of drug reaction, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  For those of you who, praise the Lord, have not experienced this, there is no way you can imagine the itchiness.  And it covers the entire body.

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My scalp, my face, my back, my stomach, the palms of my hands and bottoms of my feet, and even my lips and mouth.  My lips are just sore, and I can’t tell it’s in my mouth, but the doctor looked last evening and said it was.  I have found that being cool does bring some relief.  A cool breeze is even better.  So, I’m seeking to be cool these days, even though I would never have guessed that having just frozen my way through so many fevers.

I’m happy to be living, and I anticipate being well at some point.  I hope we’re about done with this round of “health wreck” and I hope never, ever to live through this one again.  I know God has been so merciful to me in many ways through this, but I’m still ready for it to be entirely over.

On a side note, none of this has caused my lupus to flare.  It has remained calm throughout it all, which is wonderful.  It is highly doubtful I’d have any of this trouble if I had not had that miserable cold at the time I delivered.  The doctor’s theory is that the cold, plus the delivery at the same time, maxed out my immune system, and then this mastitis just took over so quickly.  It has been a situation that’s been out of my control from the start.

I’m going to end this progress report and catch some sleep until Rachel needs to eat again.

Thanks to everyone for your prayers and the meals and help and all you have done.  I can’t tell you how much it has helped me.

3 Responses to “Another Health Wreck”

  1. Miriam says:

    My heart broke and tears came to my eyes as I was reading about Rachel being with you in the hospital. I can’t imagine being where you were, and mostly only be able to be close to each other.

    The picture of your rash reminded me ‘97 when you had a rash reaction to medication. You were in the midst of it when Glen came home from the hospital after being born. Don’t ask me how I can remember those kind of things when I usually can’t remember what I said 5 min. ago!! ;)

    Thank you for posting pictures of Rachel. She is growing! She looks much like your other babies did at this age.

  2. Davene Grace says:

    I read this as soon as you posted it, and I thought I left a comment, but I guess I didn’t. I was probably nursing Moriah when I read it, and although I sometimes try to type one-handed, it gets frustrating. Anyway… :)

    Wow! What a story you will have to tell of the challenges you went through during this period of time…but more importantly, how God brought you through! I know He is your rock and your strength, and I know you draw from Him every day.

    I also know that there are so many people who admire and love you and who would have been glad to take some of your burden, if only there had been a way. You have all my respect!

    I love the pictures in this post. Well, OK, not the last one. ;-) But all the others. Especially the first one, with you and Rachel sleeping on the couch. And also the one of your mom. And really, just all of them. :)

    I’m looking forward to seeing you next Friday!! :)

  3. Sally says:

    Miriam, it was hard, but honestly, at the time I was SO miserable and felt so badly, I was so glad for Andrew to take care of her. The misery of repeated fevers is terrible, and it just saps the energy right out of you. So yes, it was hard, but the hardest part was my own suffering. When things would let up, then I would start to feel badly that I was missing out on taking care of Rachel and getting to know her, but soon I was feeling so badly again, that I was just happy someone could take care of her for me. It’s rather hard to explain.

    Davene, I too am so looking forward to seeing you on Friday. I’m hoping you can work it out to stay to visit a little when you come. I would love to see our two girls together–for the first time! We’ll have to get a few pictures. And yes, God has been my refuge and rock. I have to admit there were times I didn’t know which side of the river I was eventually going to end up on, but wanted so badly to stay here and watch our children grow up. I’m glad God is making that happen for me! Praise God for his infinite mercy!