In case you weren’t aware, Owen had a pretty intense (at least in my book) allergic reaction at the beginning of this week. Nothing life threatening or anything, but it was definitely scary for me! I wanted to write a detailed account of it for two reasons: 1) I know many of you have been following my updates on Facebook and have been praying for him, and 2) by having a written account of the experience, accompanied by pictures, maybe it will help in the future in case this kind of thing happens again with Owen or any other possible future kids.
It all started two Saturdays ago (Jan. 23) when Owen began crying and screaming in a very pain-filled way. They say that parents will learn the different cries of their children and this is definitely true – Owen has a specific cry for being in pain. We decided to take him to his pediatrician’s After Hours doctor thinking it may be an ear infection. When the doctor looked his right ear, her first words were, “Ooh. That’s a bad one.” She wasn’t able to see in the left ear because of some wax build-up, but she said that if he has an ear infection in his left ear also, the antibiotic would fix that side too. She prescribed him with Amoxicillin, which he took for his first ear infection a few months ago. We left the doctor, picked up the medicine, and headed home.
The following Tuesday (Jan. 26), Owen was being fussy and he didn’t seem to be getting better. We were going to continue to wait it out until the screaming started once again. Greg went to Wesley worship and I took Owen to the After Hours to get it looked at again. When I got there, the doctor (a different one than the first time) was able to see in both ears and that the infections were still pretty bad. She then prescribed him Augmentin (another kind of antibiotic) that would hopefully help heal his ears quicker.
Fast forward to Saturday night (Jan. 30). My family was in town because Owen was going to be baptized the next day. That evening, when I was getting Owen ready for bed after his bath, I noticed his skin was a little broken out under his left arm. Greg and I figured it must have gotten rubbed or something at some point during the day and gotten irritated so we didn’t worry about it.
Over the past few weeks, Owen has been waking up in the middle of the night wanting to eat. So he woke up at 1:30am on Sunday morning (Jan. 31) and I fed him then put him back down for bed. He woke up again at 3:15am and when I got him out of his crib, I noticed his right ear looked funny. I thought maybe he had slept on it weird and it was just folded over but when I touched it, it was completely swollen. I turned on the light and noticed that his skin was broken out more than just under his arm at this point. I showed Greg and he said it was an allergic reaction. He stayed up with Owen to keep him occupied while I went to WalMart to get infant Benadryl. On the way, I called his pediatrician’s 24-hour nurse call center and talked to poor Wendy who was unlucky enough to be on duty. She was extremely kind and helpful, even though I can tell I woke her up. She gave me the correct dosage amount for his age, as well as told me to bring Owen in to the After Hours that day. I got the Benadryl and we gave him a dose before being put back down to sleep.
Here’s Owen on Sunday morning at 3:30am.
After I had woken back up and gotten ready for church, I went to feed Owen and get him ready and it seemed like the Benadryl had done nothing in terms of making the reaction die down. Owen’s ears were still as swollen as ever and at this point, the back of his neck was swollen as well. Owen, however, was acting completely normal and didn’t seem to be in any discomfort at all! He laughed and squealed just like normal! Because of his behavior and the fact that he didn’t seem to be having trouble breathing or swallowing, we continued with our plans for his baptism that morning at church and lunch with family afterwards, planning to take him to the doctor after lunch.
This is Owen Sunday morning around 8:30am before church.
Owen was a complete trooper during the baptism. Like I said, he never seemed to feel bad – just look kind of rough – but the Benadryl did make him quite tired and when he would fight the sleep, he got cranky.
Poor baby Owen and his swollen ears.
After lunch, Greg and I took him straight to the doctor. He was acting as happy as can be, loving to take pictures and squeal in the doctor’s office. He even grabbed the paper on the patient’s bench with his feet and brought it up to his face. Crazy boy. The doctor confirmed that it was an allergic reaction and instructed us to stop giving him the antibiotic for the ear infection. Greg is allergic to penicillin and because the Augmentin is a derivative of penicillin, the logical explanation is that that is what he is allergic to so she said they would put in his chart that he is allergic to penicillin. She said his ears didn’t look bad so once we figured out this allergy, we would figure out another antibiotic if he needed it. She told us to give him 3mL of Benadryl every 5 hours. She told us that we probably wouldn’t see much of a difference by the next day (Monday), but if we don’t see improvement by Tuesday, we should bring him back in.
At the doctor’s office around 2pm on Sunday.
I did what the doctor told us and even created a medicine tracking chart to keep track of when to give him the Benadryl, on top of the Motrin/Tylenol circuit I was giving him for the two front bottom teeth that conveniently decided to spring up during this time. When I woke up on Monday morning (Feb. 1) and went in to feed Owen, it was clear that the swelling in his ears and the back of his neck had gone down an incredible amount, BUT now the swelling seemed to move to his face and the rash had spread! His eyes (and face in general, really) were puffy. Even his belly was swollen – his belly button was nothing more than a slit. I called the nurse and explained our whole situation and that I understood that we can’t expect for him to be better after only a day but that it seems like there is new swelling and the rash had spread. The nurse called me back and set up an appointment for us to see Owen’s normal pediatrician (as opposed to the After Hours doctors) for that afternoon.
Owen’s swollen face on Monday around 10:20am.
By the time Owen and I got to the doctor, his rash had gotten even worse and his face was even puffier. Still, Owen remained in great spirits and playful. He’s such a trooper. Dr. Smith came in and looked him over and explained that it seems like Owen is in a second stage of an allergic reaction with the rash and swelling as bad as it is. He prescribed him with an oral steroid for him to take once a day for the next 5 days that would take the place of the Benadryl. He explained that sometimes it can take up to 10 days for the visible effects of an allergic reaction to go away completely and that sometimes as the rash is going away it can look like bruising. Great. So my kid is going to look like I beat him. At least he won’t look like a leopard, right?
Playing with our toys at the doctor on Monday at 2:30pm.
I gave Owen his first dosage of the steroid on Monday afternoon as soon as we got home from the doctor/CVS. I’m not even exaggerating when I say that we could tell a difference in the swelling and rash by that evening. By the next morning (Tuesday, Feb. 2), all swelling was completely gone and the rash was only faint bruising. The bruising was not nearly as dramatic as I had prepared for in my mind so that was good.
Silly boy on Tuesday morning around 8:20am.
All of this brings me to today: Wednesday (Feb. 3). He has now taken 3 of his 5 doses of steroids and will finish up on Friday. He looks COMPLETELY back to normal now. Absolutely no swelling and no rash or bruising. It’s amazing. Obviously he’ll still take his last two doses of the steroids, but it’s great to know how well they’re working!
This entire experience has been frightening as a first-time parent, even though we never hit the life-threatening part of an allergy! Owen never had trouble breathing or swallowing and never seemed to be in any discomfort or pain. I am SO very thankful for that. But it’s been so scary. We had very little sleep between Saturday and Sunday so our whole house slept in late on Monday. I would have let Owen sleep longer than I did, but I couldn’t help but worry about him not being able to breathe so I went ahead and got him up for the day.
I am so very thankful for everyone who has offered encouragement to us over the past several days and who has checked in to see how Owen is doing. Even more though, I am SO thankful beyond words for Primary Pediatrics. First off, Owen’s pediatrician, Dr. Smith, is fantastic. He is so knowledgable and calm and takes his time to answer my questions. Second, Primary Pediatrics has an After Hours program that’s open until 11pm, staffed with doctors and nurses. I think we may have seen the After Hours doctors almost as much as we have seen his actual pediatrician and we have never been let down or felt like we were getting second-hand doctors. Third, the 24-hour children’s call center is amazing. Poor Wendy answered my call at 3:30am with so much grace and love and handled this panicked Mama so well. I am so grateful for this staff of doctors and their care and support.
Here’s to a better next few days! Praise Jesus for doctors and steroids!