We've had another rough weekend, with our strange-illness prone daughter taking center stage yet again.
It began on Friday night at bedtime when Clara became suddenly stressed about the idea of going to bed. She typically stalls and tries to get out of having to go to bed, but on Friday she was crying excessively about it. After awhile she fell asleep, but only for about an hour or two when she suddenly woke up, crying, clearly uncomfortable and unable to settle herself back down.
We gave her some tylenol, which worked temporarily, but at about 1:30am - no more than 2 hours later - she was up and crying again. Since our girls share a room, the first thing we have to do when she's inconsolable is remove her from her bedroom, and so she was standing in the kitchen with me while I asked her what was wrong when I noticed she was shaking. I have struggled with low blood sugar occasionally in the past, and so it crossed my mind that maybe this was her issue. In our medicine box, we keep a small bag of coloured mini-chocolate chips - long story - and so I grabbed a few of those and decided to try giving them to her. She perked up almost immediately and was happy and talkative (annoyingly so, in the middle of the night) for about an hour. We had her in our room during this time, and finally she asked if she could go back to her own bed and so we tucked her back into bed.
This went well for a little while, but somewhere between half an hour to a full hour later, she started her unsettled crying and moaning again. I can't remember how we got her through that night - more tylenol, possibly some advil as well - but I know I didn't give her any more chocolate despite suspecting the sugar had worked. At 6:30am when she woke again, I crawled into bed with her in an attempt to keep her calm, since we had no other idea about what was wrong nor how to fix it. She sleeps in a toddler bed, so we were pretty crowded and I didn't sleep well if I did at all. By about 9am, she started whimpering again, and since I was exhausted still and not ready to wake up, I carried her to the living room couch where we curled up again and snoozed for about half an hour.
Concerned that her issue might be blood sugar, when Brian woke up, we decided to ask his Dad (who has Type 2 diabetes) if we could borrow his blood glucose meter to check her blood sugar. I called a girl I know who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a child, and asked her if Clara's symptoms could indicate blood sugar issues - or if I was crazy - and asked what the normal range for blood sugar was for kids. She told me (what I already suspected) that the normal range was 4 to 7.
Clara hadn't eaten by the time we got to Brian's parents house, and her blood sugar was tested at 3.8. She was then given a granola bar, which she proceeded to eat about 2 tiny bites of, and then asked if she could go have a nap. Not eating and being lethargic enough to ASK for a nap is sooo out of character for Clara that I was significantly concerned by this behaviour. I called the health line, and after hearing the blood glucose level of 3.8, the nurse on the line told me to bring her in right away. After about half an hour, or so, she started seeming happier and although she was still somewhat lethargic by the time we got to the hospital, she would have seemed more or less ok to someone who didn't know her.
The doctor in the Pediatric Emergency room looked at us almost condescendingly when we said her blood glucose level was at 3.8, and informed us that 3.8 was nothing to be concerned about. He went on to say that levels as low as 2.6 can be perfectly normal for children, especially first thing in the morning when they haven't yet eaten. The doctor checked her heart, lungs, eyes and ears, as well as testing her blood glucose level again (4.4) and told us that everything was fine and she was free to go. He gave no alternative explanation for why she wasn't sleeping or eating, except to say her throat looked a bit sore and maybe it just hurt to swallow.
Saturday night was no better. She cried and moaned, and wouldn't settle. We alternated between Advil and Tylenol every 2 hours or so, because both seemed to help her for about 90 minutes before she would wake up crying again. At least we were able to get some pieces of sleep...
Sunday she perked up momentarily in the morning, but continued to refuse food, and became mostly moody and lethargic all day. We indulged her by letting her watch movies most of the day while we tried to take it as easy as possible to get some rest which we were desperately lacking.
Sunday night was the same, and so Monday morning I called the clinic where our family doctor works and asked to see her as soon as possible. At first, the receptionist said we wouldn't be able to get in for more than a month and I began my sob story - she suddenly had a cancellation show up for that afternoon. The doctor was quite concerned that our poor Clara had been in the hospital yet again, but quickly discovered that the problem was an ear infection. She informed me that moving her jaw enough to chew was probably miserably painful, which explains why she wasn't eating or sleeping. Neither of our girls had ever had an ear infection before, so this was entirely new to me. I had been told to look for discharge from the ear - a clear sign of an ear infection - but there was no obvious discharge that I could see. It took the doctor's little ear-scope thing to see the puss and discharge.
So, we left the doctor with a prescription for antibiotics and a stronger pain killer for night. We had to wait at the drug store for the prescription, and Clara couldn't keep her eyes open.
I talked to the pharmacist about buying some kind of meal-replacement drink for her to make sure she was getting some nutrients and she just recommended giving Clara 'what she wants', and whatever she could eat. So, I bought frozen and regular yogurt, as well as some chocolate meal replacement shakes just in case.
She is now just over a day into her 10 days of antibiotics, and she is nearly back to her usual self. It took her a little while to fall asleep last night, and she had to be given some tylenol in the night as well as once or twice during the day today. Tonight I gave her a slightly stronger dose of the pain medication (within the range that the doctor recommended for us - no overdose accusations, please!) that we were given for her, and she fell asleep almost instantly.
I'm so glad it turned out to be just an ear infection - and so relieved to finally have an answer for why she wasn't eating or sleeping all weekend long. I'm irritated by how unhelpful the ER doctor was, but thankful that our family doctor showed such obvious concern - and made Clara a follow up appointment for this upcoming Friday.
Thank you to everyone who knew what we were going through and prayed - we love you all!