Monday, August 6, 2012

The night is darkest just before the dawn

Before I launch in to today's story, let me just say that I'm not writing about all of these things because I want to be a Sally Sob Story. A big part of my reason for writing this blog is to be better at journaling. These last few weeks have been difficult, and I've learned a lot as a result. I'm writing this stuff down partly so that I can remember it and continue to learn from it. Thanks for putting up with me!

So, to start where we left off last time: Noah's wheat allergy test came back negative!!!! His reaction to wheat on the blood test was only slightly elevated--definitely not enough to be causing all those poopy diapers, and not enough to start buying gluten-free bread. Naturally, I was relieved that he doesn't have a wheat allergy, but that still left us with no answers about what was making Noah's body so sick.

The next step that our pediatrician advised us to take was to see a gastroenterologist. I took the first available appointment, and on Thursday morning I got both of us up early and drove in to Salt Lake to see what they would have to say. I met with their nurse practitioner, and we discussed the possibility of Celiac Disease based on certain things that made him a candidate. She ordered a blood test for it, but she thought that a bacteria called Clostridium Difficile (c. diff) was more likely to be responsible, and ordered a test for that as well. All of the antibiotics that Noah took for his ear infections killed all the good bacteria and thereby gave this c. diff. bacteria--normally dormant in most people--an opportunity to grow, eventually growing enough to cause this nasty diarrhea that has been plaguing Noah for over a month now. So we went to their lab, got the tests done, and went home to wait for the results to come on Monday.

As if all of this--the blood tests, the possibility of Celiac disease, bad diaper rashes, and Noah's increasingly poor and picky appetite--weren't wreaking enough emotional havoc in our lives, Noah had a rare complication from the month of constant diarrhea on Sunday morning. I was alone with Noah when it started, and I had no idea what to do about it. I'm not going to go into details here, because it really was an unpleasant business. All I'm going to say is that it was NOT life-threatening (thank goodness), but it was still scary, it put Noah in a lot of pain, and it was all very upsetting. After trying to handle it myself (with the help of my mom and mother-in-law over the phone--thanks, moms!), I called Tyler home from his church meetings and started trying to decide how we were going to make this better. It was evident that we couldn't deal with this problem on our own, but it also happened to be Sunday--a day that our normal pediatricians' offices aren't open. And, from our internet research about this particular issue, it appeared to be rare enough that your average pediatric Instacare wouldn't know how to handle it. We decided to give the Kid's Instacare a try anyway, and drove 40 minutes in order to get to a location that opened an hour sooner than our local one. Although the nice nurses and doctors at the Instacare recognized that this problem was not life-threatening, they didn't know how to handle it and told us that we either needed to take him to the ER at Primary Children's, or wait until our normal doctor's offices opened on Monday.

We didn't want Noah to have to suffer any longer, so we decided to go to the ER. Not only did they show us how to handle the problem and gave us pain meds to make it easier on Noah, they also had the results of the c. diff test, and told us that it was positive. The gastroenterologist on call--who also happened to be from the same office as the gastro nurse practitioner we saw last week--gave us the prescription we needed to start treating the c. diff, and since the hospital's pharmacy was open on Sunday, we were able to fill it right away and start giving it to him.

Even though it took a trip to the ER to get it, I felt very relieved that we finally know what's been causing Noah's illness a day early, and that we could get the medicine to treat it right away. A phone call to the gastroenterologist's office this morning confirmed that he does not have Celiac disease, and that it's just this nasty, stubborn bacteria that's making him sick.

Unfortunately, things still aren't simple and easy. This c. diff bacteria is very hard to get rid of, so Noah's road to perfect health may be long, and we might need to try several medications before we get there. The medicine that Noah is currently taking makes him nauseous, and while I'm hoping that his body will adjust to it and that the vomiting won't reach a severe level, we might need an anti-nausea medication to counter it.

Despite the many, many roadblocks we've encountered in this process, I'm so glad that we finally have answers. We know why this illness started, we know how to treat it and how to prevent it in the future, we know that he is not allergic to wheat and that he does not have Celiac Disease. Most of all, we know that he will soon be back to his normal, healthy self very soon.

Especially over this last weekend, I've been reflecting on the steep, steep learning-curve the first year of my motherhood has given me. I've become acquainted with the worlds of ear-infections and food allergies. I've learned creative ways to help pack some pounds on an underweight child who is allergic to dairy. I've learned the importance of taking a good probiotic after taking antibiotics for a long time (VERY important, folks!). I've learned that I can deal with things I never thought I could handle--things I never wanted to handle.

More importantly, I've learned how to enjoy my son. I've found a wealth of joy in the way he wrinkles his nose and sets his lips, the way he cuddles with stuffed animals and romps right before bedtime, the way he loves to look at books and carry my purses around. My child's vitality and curiosity and smiles enrich my life and causes me to say that I am truly blessed. I thank the Lord every day for a life so full of joy and love.

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