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“Whooping it up!”
This has been a terrible year for sickness. I don’t know why. I thought the boys got all the sicknesses out of their systems when they were younger. We had a great run of it for a few years, but this year has been constant. There was the coughing and asthma from the fall that lasted three weeks, then the barfing in the winter, and now this.
“This” is Whooping Cough. Wait, what year is it? 1938? No, it’s 2017, my kids are fully vaccinated, and they were diagnosed the other day with pertussis, more commonly known as Whooping Cough.
Well, I say “they.” Not really. But let me go back to the beginning…
February 28, Mardi Gras day: I took Oliver to a parade, but George called me because Miles had a fever. We headed home and I took Miles to Urgent Care, where he tested negative for strep (which was my guess) but was given a z-pack (azithromycin) anyway. The doctor thought it was some kind of throat infection.
March 5: Oliver has been coughing a little bit, but it’s not terrible, and I go to Australia/New Zealand.
March 15: I arrive home, and Oliver is still coughing.
March 16: I get a call from the school nurse. Need to pick up someone (I can’t keep track) because of coughing.
March 17: I get a call from the school nurse. Need to pick up someone (I can’t keep track) because of coughing.
March 20: I get a call from the school nurse. Need to pick up someone (I can’t keep track) because of coughing.
March 21: I get a call from the school nurse. Need to pick up someone (I can’t keep track) because of coughing. I take Oliver to the pediatrician because his cough is not getting better. But he’s showing no other symptoms. He had a very mild (like 99 degrees) fever, though. The doctor suggests maybe it’s a post-nasal drip from a sinus infection, so she prescribes a z-pack.
March 22: I have to work at a conference in town, so George stays home with all three kids.
March 23: The boys go back to school, and that afternoon I triumphantly post on FB that I didn’t have to pick up anyone from school! My triumph is short-lived, though.
March 24: I get a call from the school nurse. Need to pick up all three because of coughing.
March 27: Me and the school nurse are buddies by now. But the kind of buddies you dread hearing from. I really do like her. But I hate it when she calls. When I go pick up Oliver, she says, “this is going to sound crazy, but it might be Whooping Cough.” I poo-poo the idea. He’s vaccinated, after all!
March 28: I volunteer as a chaperone for a field trip in Miles’s class. This way I know I can give cough syrup midday to all three, so maybe we can make it through an entire day again! I dose up Miles and Oliver, but when I get to Linus’s classroom, he’s already been sent to the nurse’s office. Sigh. I take all three home.
March 29: I keep all three home from school. WHAT’S THE POINT? Meanwhile, I desperately make an appointment with the pediatrician, who agrees it can’t hurt to test them for pertussis. That afternoon, we head to Children’s Hospital to get the test. It involves shoving a thin tube up the boys’ noses after squirting saline up there. There is a surprising amount of laughter while they have it done, even though it’s definitely not pleasant.
That evening, I get a call from the doctor. “Are you sitting down?” she asks. “Linus tested positive for Whooping Cough. The other two were negative for that, but positive for rhinovirus.” (Which is just a cold.) Dr. Google had already told me that the treatment for pertussis is a course of antibiotics. As it happens, a z-pack. We realize that must be why Oliver tested negative – he had a z-pack the week before!
But what about Miles? We were going to have this in our house forever. Do you know pertussis is called the “100 day cough”? Yeah, I believe it.
But then it hit me – Miles did get antibiotics, for the mysterious illness he had on Mardi Gras day! It’s only a theory, of course, but it makes sense…Miles was Patient Zero! We got, dare I say, lucky, that we treated him unknowingly. And correctly. Never have I been so glad that the boys have a penicillin allergy! Z-packs FTW! And Miles finished his antibiotics before he went back to school after Mardi Gras break, so at that point he was no longer contagious.
So here it is, March 31. Linus is on antibiotics. I am on antibiotics (preventative.) I sent Oliver to school this morning because he seemed to be feeling okay. (And is no longer contagious as he finished his z-pack already.) But right on schedule…
I get a call from the school nurse. Need to pick up
someone (I can’t keep track) Oliver because of coughing.
When I go to pick him up, the nurse’s office is filled with third graders. Earlier today, I got a call from the state Department of Health about the whole situation. I’m really glad they’re tracking it and everything. But it really hit home when I got to school to pick up Oliver. Every parent of a coughing third grader was getting a phone call with a recommendation to start antibiotics. If they weren’t vaccinated, they have to stay out of school for 21 days.
A little while ago, a letter went out to the whole school saying there’s an outbreak of Whooping Cough in the third grade. Ugh. We’re not named in the letter but it’s obviously not a secret since I’m blogging about it.
I feel irrationally terrible. I know it’s not our fault. We had no idea. We don’t know where we got it from. We vaccinate our kids. We get vaccines ourselves. Who would have thought we’d come down with some preventable disease? But we have friends with small children. The boys were at school all month with this. They’ve been in public. They’ve played with friends. We went to a one year old’s birthday party!
We may have weeks of coughing ahead of us. It’s “only” been four weeks. We could have another month of this.
Here’s what our house sounds like now…