We had our first ER visit of 2015 this week—on Easter, in fact. (Of course! What would a holiday be without some health scare, amiright other parents of special needs kids?) When we were sitting in church in the morning, I noticed a faint red blush on Grace’s left hand, following the path of the streaking she had had with the August 2014 infection. I was alarmed, but reassured myself with the thought that every other time Grace has had streaking from an infection, it’s been obvious and bright and this was neither. We finished church (Grace did surprisingly well—for a kid who is not physically capable of sitting still and being quiet, she did a pretty good job) and came home to Easter baskets and an egg hunt. After lunch, Grace had quiet time in her room. When she came out of her room, there was a bright red streak down her hand with swelling. At this point, it was 3 p.m., the roast was in the oven, and our friends were on their way over for dinner. I decided to wait until after dinner to take her to the ER—no sense in spoiling everyone’s Easter!
Dinner was clouded by the stressful thought of another looming hospital stay. Generally, when she has a streaking infection, she is in the hospital for about 4 days. Jackson was sobbing and heartbroken—the stress was weighing on him, too. Poor kid. After dinner, our friends left and I packed a bag with about 4 days worth of clothes for us and all our fancy wound care supplies and we left for the ER with heavy hearts. Well, I should say that Chad, Jackson, and I had heavy hearts—Grace was excited to go to her “home away from home.”
At the ER, we had a doctor and nurse we’ve never met before. This is the problem with ERs—you are not able to establish a relationship with the people there because you’re just in and out. I got the distinct impression that the nurse didn’t believe me about Grace’s insensitivity to pain and suspected child abuse, at least for a moment. It was scary—I have heard way too many horror stories about the CPS system, and even though I know I do my best to take good care of my children, I never want to have someone on the outside judge my parenting skills. Anyway, the nurse apparently checked our file and my story was corroborated, so *whew*—scary disaster averted!
The ER doc, who didn’t know Grace and doesn’t understand the complexity of her condition(s), did not think Grace needed to be admitted. She mentioned oral antibiotics at one point, but apparently changed her mind on that because we left with no prescriptions. She did an x-ray and blood work—both were normal, of course—and sent us on our merry way with instructions to follow up with Grace’s orthopedist the following day.
We had our ortho appointment on Monday, and Grace’s hand looked totally normal—no redness, no swelling, no heat. Argh!!! It’s like when you take your car to the mechanic and all of a sudden the funny noise is gone—very frustrating. The next day, Tuesday, Grace was very defiant on her way into school, and it occurred to me that perhaps her behavior was tied to something going on in her hand. I took off her glove, and sure enough, there was an even bigger and more pronounced red streak. I talked to her school nurse about the possible infection and asked her to check Gracie’s temp throughout the day. About an hour after I dropped her off, the school nurse called to tell me Grace’s temp was 99.7—much higher than her typical 97.3. And she wasn’t overheating—this high temp was due to something else.
When I got to the school, Grace’s cheeks were very flushed and she looked slightly lethargic for her. Her hand looked fine, though—no redness, no swelling. By the time we got home, there was no fever, either.
What is going on here?? How is it possible that a streaking infection can be there one moment and gone the next? Why did she have that mysterious fever? Should we be treating this as an infection or an injury? What the $#%^???
We have an appointment with Grace’s regular doctor this afternoon. Hopefully she’ll have some guidance for us—although it seems unlikely that she’ll have any more insight than anyone else. Perhaps she can refer us to a different infectious disease doctor, but that doctor will be at a disadvantage since he or she will never have experienced any of the weirdnesses of Grace’s non-existent inflammatory response. Either way, it will be nice to have another set of eyes on this mystery hand.