October 30, 2014

Life with RSV

When Max was two weeks old, he was diagnosed with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). Lucas had gotten a bad case of croup Max's first week, which resulted in a night in the emergency room for him. It wasn't long after that Max had a cold, despite our best efforts to keep the two away from each other. When things got worse, we took him to the pediatrician, and he tested positive for the virus.

He was immediately admitted to the hospital. A few days prior, my father-in-law had passed away, and M was in Portland taking care of his family business. My mom had flown in from Germany for a week to help me out with new baby and crazy toddler, and the timing could not have been any better. A very, very sweet & good friend took Lucas for us, and my mom & I tag-teamed a two day hospital visit. To this day, I am still forever grateful for those two, because I don't know what I would have done with M gone, and me being completely alone with both kids. It was bad timing, all of it, but my amazing mom & amazing friend made it all a little easier to manage.

We were very lucky in that our visit was only two days long. If you aren't familiar with RSV, it is an infection of the lungs, which causes breathing problems in both infants and adults. As an adult, when you catch it, it may seem like just the common cold. You might get a runny nose, sore throat, fever, and just generally feeling blah. But in an infant, small air ways that are constricted and blocked can cause serious problems. When a baby has to struggle to breath, eventually they may just ... stop. Because they get tired, they may or may not decide to START breathing again. During our hospital stay, Max was given respiratory treatments every 3-4 hours, around the clock, until we were discharged.

The next six months were rough, to put it mildly. Our treatment continued at home with a nebulizer and every week until he was two months old we were back in the pediatrician's office. Every single time we took him in because of reoccurring breathing issues, I dreaded the test results, and the news that the RSV was back again. Luckily for us that day never came again, and when we made it from two months to three months without a visit, we considered it a success, but in between, and ever since coming home from the hospital, it was long days and nights. Every time Max got sick, it was breathing treatments every four hours, around the clock, for two or three days. Then a pediatrician visit to test for RSV, followed by a couple more days of 24-hour treatments. Every time any of us had even a small cough, or runny nose, it turned into a full blown respiratory issue for Max. Lucas was in preschool, and is, you know, a toddler. Which meant germs. We did our best to keep them at bay (lots and LOTS of hand-sanitizer) by going to high levels of caution, but we weren't always successful.

I hated taking him anywhere. I stayed home and avoided unnecessary trips. Anywhere we went in public, I worried about what kind of germs were flying around. I wouldn't let my friends' older kids hold him, and short of making them take a shower and put on a hazmat suit, I let very few of our adult friends hold him, either. It was stressful, because it never took much. We would get him healthy and within a couple of days, he would be sick again. If we went a whole week without using the nebulizer, it was a damn miracle. Eventually we moved to two different steroid treatments, which helped prolong the "healthy" periods. They didn't make things perfect, or CURE him by any means, but they helped.

Did I mention that through all of this, I was exclusively pumping? I was exhausted. All the time. It was an incredibly trying time. We continued to struggle with the RSV backlash up until we were leaving for Germany. And let me tell you ... an eight hour overseas flight, with hundreds of people breathing the same nasty air? We all got sick immediately upon arrival into the country. Including Max. Because of the voltage difference, I blew out our nebulizer (this is where my husband would say "I told you so!") but luckily, even being only two or three days in-country, our new clinic was able to get us a 220v version. The treatments continued our first week here, and we weathered through another round of illness & breathing issues.

And then ... things got better. We were always told that because Max caught RSV at such a YOUNG age, one of two things would happen. He would either outgrow it, OR, this was something that he would have problems with into childhood, with a likely diagnosis of asthma down the road. Since being here, we have been very lucky, and just recently hit the three month mark of NO nebulizer use. He has been healthy, ALWAYS happy (even at the worst), and growing the way that he should. It's amazing and something we celebrate, the fact that he has gone so long without any real issues. But winter is coming, and I will admit that I am a little nervous.

We have had sick people in this house since moving here. M travels, and so therefore picks up random colds. I am currently battling a not-so-nice sinus infection. Every time a new cold pops up I wonder, what will happen? But so far we have been lucky, and Max has remained healthy. There is a huge part of me, though, that wants to hole up and not take him anywhere until April, for fear of a repeat. We visited our new pediatrician today for Max's nine-month checkup (tipping the scales at 25.8 lbs and 29.5'') and he was very, very happy with how clear and wonderful his lungs sounded! It was great to hear that things look and sound completely normal. But we were reminded (not that I needed it) that he is still capable of becoming very sick, very fast. He was impressed with the measures we have taken, the supplies we currently have, and the plan of attack if anything should go wrong, but it was an eye opener to the fact that even though things seem clear, it's still too early to give the 100%.

So, we tread cautiously. For now. We continue to celebrate the healthy days, and prepare for the not-so healthy ones. At some point, he is going to get sick again. That is inevitable because he's a baby, with an older, germy brother. We play with other kids. M brings home random colds. But hopefully, next time, it will just be normal. We are looking forward to normal.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad he's feeling better and so sorry you had to deal with all that in his first year. Here's hoping this winter will prove to be a healthy one for him and your family.