Awhile back I told you how I was almost always the Mom in the middle. I'm not sure if I’m overreacting to most things, but more than likely certain that I’m too laid back for my own good. A trip to the ER this weekend gave me confidence in my decision–making abilities as a mother. (And reaffirmed that you really don’t want to mess with me when the kiddos are involved.)
The rash from hell. It all started Monday night when I was changing my 3-year-old. H had almost fully mastered the potty-training thing, and for some odd reason was refusing to use the bathroom. I removed his 50-pound soaking pull-up to find the most unusual rash on his bottom and the back of his legs. It looked like bug bites, but several of them were bruises already. This was really weird.
“Mama, I can’t walk!” Later that evening, the little guy starts crying that his legs hurt. He says he doesn’t want to walk, and insists that I carry him everywhere. I’m convinced that it’s another flu bug making its way through my home (we had all just suffered a month ago.)
Baby’s burning up. Not too much later, he develops a low-grade fever that turns into a higher-grade fever. I’m a little concerned now.
Tuesday through Friday, he seems to be better. I keep an eye on the spots, as they appear to be going away. Friday afternoon, however, he starts scratching at them, and I notice a few on his arms. I wisk him away to our local clinic to see the only doctor within 20 miles. The guy has no idea what we’re dealing with, but only knows it is not contagious. He proceeds to flip through a dermatology book, holding up pictures against my son’s skin to “compare” afflictions. He finally decides on some generic papule invasion (uh, you think?) and tells me that it should go away on its own. (He basically ignores the aching legs, low fever, and now excruciating stomach pains that my son has developed.)
That evening, I’m sitting in the living room, and notice that my son is crying again. He is really uncomfortable. It is almost 11 pm, and he is demanding that I hold him on the couch. He squirms and cries, and I look at this body. I see that each of the small reddish-purple bumps are now quarter size in some places. There is blood forming under his skin in strange ways. He is writhing in pain.
I hit the internet, googling for anything that might make sense. (Note: I know. Googling is a way to freak you out for no good reason. I did come across all kinds of freaky diseases… typhoid fever being one. I’m not stupid, and I didn’t for a minute think he had typhoid fever.) I did, however, have a year’s experience working in a dermatology clinic, so I knew the difference between a papule and a pustule. I came across the most unusual but fitting disease and wrote the name down. Then I headed out the door to the (not nearest) ER.
The nurse greeted us almost 90 minutes later. She asked what was wrong, downplayed my concerns, and upon showing her the name of the illness I was concerned about, brushed me off. “Oh, those dermatologists are always coming up with crazy diseases. It’s nothing.” Excuse me? I was starting to feel like one of those crazy moms who make up diseases to get attention, and I was not happy.
We meet our doctor. A young guy with an awesome smile, comes in rather cheerful for working the night shift. I show him the spots, describe the symptoms, and mention that the “pooling” of blood under my son’s skin was concerning. He almost drops his clipboard. “Interesting that you should use that word: pooling. I’ll need to discuss this with you in a minute.” Then he left. I was freaking. Was he calling social services on me for being paranoid?
He comes back. He explains that he believes my son has Henoch-Schonlein Purpura, or HSP. (Funny, that’s the exact same Googled disease that the nurse mocked me about.) He acknowledged the same concerns that I had: possible indication of a more serious viral or bacterial disease (including meningitis and Epstein-Barr) and a possibility of renal complications. He sensed my fear, and immediately put me to ease. “We’ll run tests tonight, get you the results in 45 minutes, and hopefully, you can go home knowing that your son will be alright.” I love this man.
Almost 2 hours later, we were going home. Walking out, the nurse handed me our discharge papers. “Oh, see there… it’s just a case of purpura. I told you not to worry…. What?!? He has Henoch-Schonlein Purpura? Well, that’s the disease you told me about and…and I haven’t seen a case of that in my 40 years of nursing…..” she trailed off.
My guy is healing nicely. Except for the nighttime arthritis, which leaves him crying and has me carrying him to the bathroom, he seems to be getting better. Eight weeks should hopefully bring the end of this weird condition.
If there was a moral to my very, very long story, it is this: Moms (and Dads), you know your kids better than anyone. You are of at least moderate intelligence, and you better be prepared to use it. If you have a gut feeling that something isn’t right, keep talking until someone listens. Your kids rely on you to protect them, whether you finished college (like the nurse at the hospital) or not (like me.)