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No, it’s not contact dermatitis

standard January 7, 2010 3 responses

Some three months or more ago I had an itchy scratchy patch on my belly. I did nothing about it. Then it grew. And I still did nothing about it. Then there was a second patch. And a third. So I went to see a dermatologist.

I know, you’re going to be shocked, but she told me I had contact dermatitis*.

I took the cortisone cream she prescribed and went my merry way.

A month later I was back in her office. The rash was now all over my stomach and back. 

We graduated from “contact dermatitis” to “Huh. I don’t really know what that is, let’s try this steroid lotion.”

Cost of steroid lotion: $375.
Coupon helpfully handed out by dermatologist: $50.
Cream bought by me: none. 

A month later I was back in her office. The rash was now all over. Back, stomach, legs, arms. The works.

A tube of steroid lotion to the person who guesses what the dermatologist said…

That’s right! Good job. Sorry, I never bought the lotion, can’t have any. 

She said: “Wow. That is interesting. But I still have no idea what it is. Let’s try this other cream.”

I didn’t go back to see her again. That was over a month ago and, surprise surprise, my rash is still as bad.

So tomorrow I’m trying something new. I’m going to see an Internist. I’m not holding my breath, I doubt I’ll come home miraculously cured, but at least this one might resist rolling her eyes when I mention that I might need a blood test or something. I mean, a girl can hope, right? Because if things progress at this rate I’m going to be a shoo in for a role as a lizard in the next season of V.

*Dermatologist speak for “you have a rash.”

Vaccines at last!

standard November 12, 2009 3 responses

“Do. Not. Touch. Anything.” My warning was delivered in my most dire ‘do this or else’ mommy voice.
“Right. Nothing except the toys.” C answered nodding knowingly.
“No. Nothing. You don’t touch anything. Especially not the toys.”

I saw her start to argue and I went for words that I hoped she’d understand (Thank you Sid!).

“When children are sick, parents take them to the doctor and while they wait they play with the toys in the waiting room. Their germs are all over the toys in there. Germs are what make you sick. You don’t touch anything. You hear me?”

She nodded sadly.

“But what about the fishies?”

I relented a little. “We can say hi to the fishies, but only if you promise not to touch anything. Deal?”

Deal struck, I pulled into the parking lot and ushered my kids into the cesspool of flu germs pediatrician’s office. Luckily someone was just stepping out, so I didn’t have to figure out how to open the door without using my hands or putting Little L down. I can trust C to listen when I say ‘don’t touch,’ Little L, not so much.

We checked in and I stayed a foot away from the counter. And then in the waiting room I made sure C kept her hands on the two stuffed bears she had brought in with her and kept herself away from the toys, books, and chairs that beckoned invitingly. We spent some time saying hi to the fish while I studied the other people in the room.

At first glance everyone else there was clearly waiting for a vaccine – the way the parents were staring everyone down like me was a clear giveaway. But suddenly a tired looking dad walked in leading a child wearing a surgical mask. All our eyes instantly darted to the big “If your child has flu symptoms please tell us so we can give you a mask.” sign hanging near the entrance.

“Hey girls! Let’s go look at the picture hanging in the hall!” I shooed C out of the room without making eye contact with the dad. Three seconds later two other families followed us out of the room. The only thing worse than imagining all the germs that are crawling in that waiting room is being thrown face to face with them.

The rest of the visit proceeded without further incident. We collected vaccines, stickers, and cheery waves goodbye and I managed to open the door without actually touching it with my bare hand. In the car I handed out liberal rounds of hand sanitizer and I shook off the mental image of bright kid friendly surfaces crawling with germs and viruses.

They’re vaccinated. Finally.

The h1n1 vaccine saga continued and hopefully ended

standard November 11, 2009 4 responses

The vaccine is all anyone talks about these days. Did you get it? Do you know who has it? Who’s high risk? Who’s gaming the system?

Never ending speculation and rumors that spread like quickfire. That office is giving it to anyone who walks in! This place had a 6 hour wait!

I got to daycare this morning and was told that the mother of another child, patient of our pediatrician’s office, had received a call last night informing them that the vaccine had arrived and giving them an appointment time.

Now, allow me to backtrack a second.

After all my hemming and hawing I fell down hard on the side of needing to get my children vaccinated. 76 dead children will motivate you like that. I double checked with the pediatrician’s office that my girls were high risk and then I sat back and I waited patiently for the call.

My friends freaked out and raced around looking for vaccine doses, but I waited patiently. I didn’t call the office daily, I checked the website like they asked. I was confident that they were doing their damnedest and would do their best to get to us when it was our turn. I put my faith in the system.

So this morning, I was curious, but nothing more. I checked online to see if there were any updates, and when I didn’t see any I called the office to politely inquire as to why we hadn’t gotten a similar call. I apologized profusely for being an annoying mom, but I asked.

And I was told only the high risk kids were being called. When I informed them that my daughters were high risk the receptionist paused, put me on hold, checked a list or two, and then came back online to tell me that only the really high risk kids, the ones who had had transplants or were awaiting them, were getting the vaccine.

Pardon my internet speak, but WTF?

In a town of 27,700 people and multiple pediatrician’s offices, how many of their patients could possibly be waiting for, or have already received transplants? Two? Three? Dare I call BS on that argument?

I bit my tongue and resisted getting mad at the poor girl whose job has probably been hell for the last two months. I figured that by simply calling and getting her to pull their files I reminded them that my girls should be on their high risk. I didn’t want to tick her off and make the situation worse.

Oh, but how it chaffed to hold back! I was pissed. I’m good. I did what they asked. I followed their arbitrary rules to the letter. I never bug them. I never take up their time needlessly. And I was being passed up. Twitter tales of people who had lied to get the vaccine upset me further.

I so wanted to believe the receptionist’s assurance that we were on the very next list. That they’d call us as soon as they could. But really? Why should I believe them. I even started thinking of ways I could game the system myself. Ear infection concerns anyone?

Luckily work took over for the rest of the day, pushing my concerns and my anger to the side. Though I did let it flare up periodically throughout the day by relating the drama to a few close friends. I ranted some more when I went to pick the girls up at daycare. And then we went home.

Where the answering machine light was blinking.

“We made a mistake. Little L should have been on our list. Sorry. Oh, but we don’t have a vaccine for C. We only have it for kids 36 months and under. She’s going to have to wait. Oh, and please don’t mention anything to anyone. Thank you. Beep!”

Again, WTF?

Don’t mention it? No vaccine for C? We ‘made a mistake?’

I’m sorry. You’ve had well over a month to prep for this moment. A month to figure out a system that actually worked. How hard is it to create a list of kids who need the darn vaccine? And why on earth would my 4 year-old also asthmatic child be any less at risk than my 2 year-old asthmatic child? The vaccine reserved for kids 36 months and up is usually the nasal mist. Asthmatic children can’t get that. So, what? C never gets the vaccine?

Let’s just say that it’s a good thing I got that message after the office closed.

And let’s add that I felt like an ass when we got a call at 8:30pm informing us that they were also going to vaccinate C and when could we come in?

I’m still appalled that the website still hasn’t been updated. I’m frustrated at the way this has been handled. But I’m incredibly grateful that my girls are going to get their vaccine in the morning. It’s not going to make us any less cautious when it comes to public places and exposure, but at least it’ll ease the stress a bit.

Still Battling Asthma. Still Winning.

standard March 26, 2009 4 responses

Our battle with asthma gets weaved into blog posts about sleep, about germs, about the never ending hunt for affordable medication. It’s such a part of our lives, a part of our daily routine, that I never think to stop and write up an update.

Uh, well, that’s because there really isn’t an update to give.

C has had a spectacular winter with minimal use of big guns. She gets her daily dose of Singulair every day and has had very few flare-ups all winter. Knock wood, but her doctor and I are even toying with the thought of taking her off the Singulair this summer to see how she does without it.

Little L is another story. When she’s healthy she gets a daily dose of Pulmicort, the only medicine that seems to keep her symptoms under control. At the first sign of a sniffle or a sneeze I double that daily dose and do a hasty please-no-asthma-flair-ups dance. A cold can mean one or two asthma attacks in a single night and the destruction of our very tenuous sleeping through the night habit. (Cut me some slack, OK? She only started sleeping through the night a couple months ago. The nightmare of no sleep is still very fresh in our minds.)

But even though I hold my breath when I hear coughing from their room, I’m still awed by how commonplace all of this seems to us. Yeah, our kids have asthma, so what? They’re active, happy, normal kids. So what if they get a bit winded after dancing around the room? So what if I have to double check that I’m carrying their inhaler when we go for a family walk? We’ve never had to run to the hospital in the middle of the night. And they sure don’t act like they’re any different. As long as I don’t forget to order their medicine on time we’re a regular normal family. (Mental note: Order more medicine tomorrow morning.)

Even as I make light of all this, I know that 20 years ago our life wouldn’t have been the same. If Little L didn’t have her control meds she’d probably be having breakthrough episodes nightly and we would, for sure, have made many late night trips to the ER. The same is true for C, even if her asthma isn’t quite as severe as her sister’s. Fact is, even as we take our evening nebulizing treatments for granted or chuckle when we see Little L strap on her mask before turning on the machine by herself, a small part of me says a quiet little thank you for the medicine that allows us to pretend we are a normal, healthy family.

(Dear Karma, please ignore this post. K? Thanks.)