Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sympathy Itch

Have you ever had a parenting moment when you just don't know what to do?

Let me tell you mine.

Two weeks ago the girls got two vaccines at the doctor's office, and subsequently both got mild rashes on their bellies.

(Before I go any further, for the love of sweet baby Jesus--let us not debate vaccinations here. Brad and I have chosen to delay some, to skip some, and to give some on time. These choices are nothing to be taken lightly. All us mamas are just doing the best we can for our babies. Let's respect our fellow mamas' choices. Thank you.).

Hadley's rash went away. Brynne's never did. A week later we were back at the doctor. They thought Brynne's rash might be a strep rash, and did a strep test. It was negative. They chalked her rash up to a viral rash left over from the terrible croup/cough/cold thing they'd had the previous week. Read: We really have no idea what this rash is.

Another week went by. Thursday night Brynne is yanking on her ears. The rash had spread up her neck and behind her ears. After her bath we lathered her in hydrocortisone cream and gave her some Benedryl.

Friday morning the girls wake, they nurse, and I go to change diapers.

My jaw just dropped as I'm changing Brynne.

Brynne is covered, COVERED in red angry hives. They.Were.Everywhere. Neck, back, belly, chest, behind her ears, in her scalp, behind her knees, on the tops of her feet and on her forehead.

Both my husband and my brother-in-law make fun of my sisters and I for our propensity to exaggerate or "catastrophize" things. Friends (especially Brad and Mital), this is no "catastrophization"--she was covered!

When I became a mom, I was sure that vomit was going to be the hardest thing for me to deal with. In the past, the smell alone has caused me to run away retching. Well, I did the vomit thing and, surprisingly, it was tolerable. So, I figured it couldn't get any worse.

I was wrong. This rash thing was way, way worse than vomit. It was impossibly difficult for me to look at Brynne. I never thought that "doing hard things" would involve looking at my daughter. I was suddenly itchy from head to toe. Sympathy itch.

I'm sympathy itching as I write this.

So, my mind is racing. What if this was caused by something she ate--do I let her eat breakfast? The doctor wasn't open for another hour. Do I take her to the emergency room?

I was supposed to babysit later that day. I called that mama to explain what was going on, in case it affected my availability to watch her child. You know those moments of:
I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm handling it, everything's going to be okay--then all of a sudden---bwahhhhhhhh---I'm not fine, I'm not fine, I'm not fine, I'm not handling it, everything is not okay, not even a little bit? 
Yeah. Poor Ellyn. She got an ear-full of sobbing about Brynne's rash, and me telling her how itchy I was.

I opted to wait till the doctor was open, so that I could leave a message for the nurse to get back with me. I might have "catastrophized" that message a bit.

I was so desperate for someone to do something to make my poor baby feel better, I took an appointment during the girls' morning nap, and took them all by myself. One of these alone is recipe for disaster. Two at once--let's just say the rest of the day wasn't very pretty.

I didn't care. I needed answers.

My answer = severe allergic reaction to something.

I could have told them that over the phone. Whatever. They gave us drugs.

Brynne is on a five day course of steroids.

Her spots are fading. My itchiness is slowly going away. It's still hard to look at her fading spots. There are just so many!

They have no idea what caused this, which is unsettling to me. I'm afraid if I give her a bite of something, or if she smells a flower in the garden she'll keel over in anaphylactic shock. I know, Mital and hubs, "catastrophization" at its finest.

So, we march on. Doing hard things.
Praying that "something" doesn't cause another allergic reaction.


Wendy said...

How infuriating to not know what caused her rash! i would second guess everything I put in her mouth and everything in my home. I feel for you Mama! Felt a little sympathy itch myself!

Sara said...

Been there mama! I would write down everything she's had to eat for 24 hours before the hives and then go from there. Also, try switching to a hypoallergenic laundry detergent. Allergies suck! :/

Lauren said...

I have been there too. Noah gets a rash from just about anything, apparently, and has had hives several times too. One time, at 4 months old, he had them so bad, just COVERING his torso. They lasted for a week, and then went away. I could never figure it out, because he hadn't had anything new, no new food, no new clothes, no new soaps, no new detergents, no new places... he just broke out in a million massive hives.

I am surprisinglyy calm about Noah's illnesses and symptoms though. I've never even taken him to the doctor for anything other than a regular checkup. I've called telehealth (its a free nurse hotline in Ontario) a few times, but seeing as he's been sick 11 times and had many mysterious skin conditions, I think I'm doing pretty good for staying calm.

Ordinary Girl said...

Oh poor Brynne!! I can't imagine how frustrating that must be. I find it hard to stay calm sometimes when dealing with medical situations with Bean because she's so little that it's just hard. I can't really explain to her what's happening, she can't tell me exactly how she's feeling. There are just so many pieces of the equation that can make you feel helpless. I think in the face of that, you did quite well. I hope that this is a one time thing and that you don't have to deal with it again. And I hope you're both feeling less itchy!!

Abs said...

I hope Brynne feels better sister. Give her lots of hugs and kisses, just don't get hives in your mouth :/

Twinside Out said...

Oh poor baby! How awful for her!! And how frustrating for you to not know what caused it. We had a similar mystery reaction (my hubby, not the kids) and after rewashing every single clothing item, sheet and towel per the doctor's advice, we still had no answers. The steroids cleared up his rash, and it hasn't come back since. Hoping it will be the same with Brynne, and that this will be an isolated incident!

BTW - catastrophization - love it!!

Kailene Brightman said...

I am going through this EXACT thing right now. ER twice, doc on Monday, steroids and benadryl and aloe and oatmeal baths. Except she has a fever and is getting redder and I keep being told by the ER to just stick to it. I'm angry. Hoping her pediatrician figures this out and refers us to allergist. I'm dying not knowing and thinking we're worsening it by unknowingly exposing her to the allergen all day. :/

Btw, could the vaccine be the allergen?? My daughters allergic to penicillin and amoxicillin.