Day Five of Daughter’s battle with Swine Flu. H1N1 if you prefer. Whatever. It’s the Flu and a bad one.
Even though both kids were vaccinated with the H1N1 Flu mist on October 22, Daughter came down with a fever last Sunday night (10 days after the vaccine). Her first two days were the worst with a high fever and severe vomiting. I started to worry when she couldn’t keep the fever reducer medicine down, wouldn’t even lick an ice cube, and couldn’t stay awake for more than ten minutes.
A quick swab at the pediatrician’s office confirmed it was the Flu and Dr. Jen prescribed an anti-nausea medication (Zofran) to help Daughter take and keep fluids down. It worked beautifully (well, she threw up the first one but with gentle coaching, let the second one dissolve on her tongue then fell asleep until it worked) and by the next day (Wed) she was drinking water and eating toast.
Dr. Jen said the respiratory symptoms would probably appear and by Thursday, Daughter had a stuffy nose and mild cough. The fever was milder and disappeared for hours usually to pick up late in the day.
Yesterday, she was more her usual self. Today, however, she’s quieter and has lost most of her voice but has not had a fever since waking. I’m praying that her cough doesn’t pick up and with more rest, she’ll continue to recover well.
Below are some thoughts on various aspects of this virus based on my firsthand experience, stories from other Moms, and what I’ve read in the newspaper.
Is it Swine Flu?
Pediatricians in our area seem to be all over the place on diagnosing this virus. Some tell parents not to bother bringing their kids in unless their condition worsens (don’t spread germs, don’t bother getting tested, it’s all over the place). Some test and send the results out for Swine Flu confirmation. Others don’t even bother testing.
My pediatrician does the rapid Flu test swab which shows whether it’s Type A Flu in 10 minutes (earlier if it’s “really positive.”). According to Dr. Jen, seasonal flu hasn’t hit yet so if you’re positive for Type A, chances are it’s Swine. Besides, Daughter received the seasonal flu vaccination in August so she should be covered.
If you’re on the fence about whether to get the vaccine, my advice is DO IT. The numbers don’t lie. More children have already died from H1N1 than from seasonal flu in any season. While two-thirds of these children had an underlying medical condition, one-third were healthy and had sudden, inexplicable complications. Why take any chances? The vaccine is as safe as the seasonal flu vaccine which you’ve probably given your children every year.
But get it soon. The vaccine can take two weeks to be effective, hence why Daughter may not have been protected. Young children also need a second, booster vaccine 28 days later since their little systems can’t build up enough antibodies after one dose.
The vaccine can be hard to find. If your pediatrician doesn’t have a supply, check with your local health district. If your child’s school offers it, count yourself lucky.
A high fever can be dangerous. Check with your doctor on whether to alternate children’s acetaminophen and ibuprofin at shorter intervals to keep the fever from spiking.
This can also be dangerous if there’s a danger of dehydration or the fever can’t be kept down (though there are fever reducing suppositories). Don’t wait to see your doctor if your child can’t keep anything down.
Keep em home
The recommendation is to keep kids home for at least 24 hours after the last fever without medication. The time period is there for a reason. One, the fever can come and go and your child may not be completely healthy again. Also, Swine Flu can be contagious for 24 hours until after the last symptoms.
When I interviewed my pediatrician to write about Swine Flu last Spring, she was only prescribing Tamiflu to children with underlying medical conditions. This was due to some rare side effects a study had shown were possible in children.
Now that Swine Flu is widespread in our community, I have several friends whose children were given Tamiflu to prevent spread from siblings or severity of their illness. A friend whose six month old just came down with it, got a prescription from our doctor which is probably very helpful for such a young child.
Tamiflu is in short supply and can be hard to get. But if your pediatrician recommends it, from what I understand it’s now a good idea.
So far, the rest of our family hasn’t gotten Swine Flu. Perhaps Son’s vaccination had a chance to work before he was exposed (although many in his class have been out).
I say a prayer every day, sleep a lot and hope for the best. The notion that I can protect myself from Daughter’s germs is ridiculous. I fed ice cubes into her little mouth, held and kissed her, and washed my hands as much as I could (oh, and I was vomited on a few times).
All in all, stay on top of what’s happening with the disease and how many children in your kids’ schools are infected (our elementary school has been surprisingly and disappointingly lacking in information).
And be well.
Update: Ten minutes after posting this, I met Son at the bus. I could tell immediately that he had gotten it. The thermometer proved it – 101 fever…