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Doctors, doctors, and more doctors

>> Friday, August 26, 2011

I'm just going to jump right in and start rambling on and on about Jackson's health.  This blog has proven to be more than just a fun way to share our life stories, it's also my documentation for my sick kid.

I'd like to add this disclaimer: There are thousands of sick kids that are far sicker than Jackson.  From an outsider, I realize that Jackson seems to be a perfectly healthy, thriving toddler.  We are blessed beyond belief that we are only in and out of doctor's offices, and not hospitals, and ER's. 

So, here I go!

After Jackson's last round of mastoiditis, ear infection, sinus infection, and tonsillitis - we finished 10 days of aggressive medication and three days later, he started getting sick again.

Jackson is at the doctor with sinus infections and bronchitis once a month.  In the past 6 months we've had 32 prescriptions filled, this doesn't include the shots and samples that we get in the office or the over-the-counter drugs.

Jackson's chronic sinus infections cause a lot of drainage down the back of his throat, which makes him cough.  And because he is one of the lucky kids that was left with hyperactive and restricted airways from RSV, his cough quickly turns into a bronchial asthma attack.

This past Saturday afternoon, Jackson woke up hoarse from a 4 hour nap, hello red flags.  By Sunday night, Jackson was in a full blown episode.  Gagging and retching from couching so hard.  Holding his chest and crying from pain. Pressing on his eyes and holding his head telling us how bad it (the sinus pressure) hurt.

First thing Monday morning, we were back at the pediatrician's office.  He ordered a chest x-ray and sinus x-ray, and then told us there was nothing more he could do for us.  Jackson really needs to see a specialist.  He also gave Jackson his 4th round of steroids in the past 6 weeks.  Most adults aren't supposed to take more than 4 rounds in a year, just to put this in perspective.  However, after conversing with a pulmonologist it was deemed necessary if we wanted to keep the bronchitis from developing into pneumonia by the weekend.

Tuesday morning, I took Jackson to see his ENT.  Her only option for us was surgery to irrigate his sinuses and replace his tubes, which are about to fall out.  This would require Jackson to be under general anesthesia for 30 minutes, and have a few days of recovery.  Again, this was her only option to us and we still wouldn't know what exactly was causing Jackson to be sick all of the time.

I left the appointment and knew we had to look at other options.  My mom and I spent the day looking for our next steps.  She took Jackson's charts to all of her top doctors in the area and they all agreed that Jackson needed to be seen by a doctor in New Orleans at Ochsner Hospital.  He is a pediatric ENT that specailizes in cases like Jackson.

So I called, expecting to get an appointment with him 6 months down the road...and they were able to get us in on Wednesday, the very next day! Thank you Grandma and God, for answering my prayers:)

Wednesday morning, my mom drove me and Jackson to New Orleans for the appointment.  We arrived at Ochsner about 20 minutes early, and they took us right away! The doctor spent one full hour with us, and not a minute of that time was spent warming up to Jackson.  Jackson left with a sticker that he proudly gave him that said, Dr. G made me scream!

And boy did Dr. G make Jackson scream...

He first sat with us reviewing Jackson's charts and patient history. Then we went into a different exam room, where it took 4 of us to pin Jackson down so that he could look at his ears through a microscope.  This allowed for him to rule out any ear disease or need for tubes.

Next he jammed some numbing medicine up Jackson's nose and told me to hold him down tight.  Note to self: Do no wear a dress to hold and pin your screaming toddler down.  Bring football pads and Daddy!

Once the numbing medicine kicked in, Dr. G was able to put a scope up Jackson's nose and down his throat.  We were all able to watch on a big screen, as he checked everything out.  It was pretty amazing, I have to say.  Jackson's sinuses are full of puss and mucous, causing a lot of drainage down the back of Jackson's throat.  It's no wonder he coughs all the time.

The scope ruled out a lot of possibilities; he doesn't have a deviated septum, or malformations, or need to have his tonsils removed, and his adenoids are still gone.

He believes that Jackson has some sort of secondary infection, on top of his chronic sinus infections.  In order to clear up his bronchial issues, we have to clear his sinuses first.  However, he does not want to do surgery like his regular ENT recommended because the results just aren't proven in children his age.

His prescription: Jackson will be taking 42 days - 6 weeks - of aggressive antibiotics, in combination with nasal steroids and a diluted Afrin nasal spray for 10 days.  IF Jackson gets sick again within one week of completing the antibiotics, then he wants to sedate him and do a CT Scan of his sinuses. 

More importantly than that, he wanted Jackson to be seen by an immunologist to have an immunity work up done.  Dr. G highly recommended a doctor in Alexandria, Louisiana...

So, we literally left Dr. G's office in New Orleans, and called Dr. C's office in Alexandria and they told us to come on up that afternoon!

We arrived at Dr. C's office at 3:30 and didn't leave until 5PM.  He spent almost that entire time with us, reviewing Jackson's history with me and asking a lot of questions.  I was exhausted by the end of the appointment.

We discussed a lot of possibilities and next steps.  A lot of if this, then that situations.  And we left with orders to go to our local hospital's lab for an immunology work up.

And 12 hours after meeting my mom to begin our day, we arrived back home!

Thursday morning, Mr. took Jackson to get his lab work done before school.

We have to wait a week for the results, which I'm praying goes by fast and answers the mystery to Jackson's health.  I need a plan.  I need answers.  I need to know what to do to make my baby feel better.

I know that some of these test could give us answers that will change our lives, I'm praying for the strength to handle that news.

I also know that these tests could all come back completely normal, which would mean that we would move forward with allergy testing immediately.

It's a 50/50 chance. If this, then that.

While I avoid Dr. Google, please join me in praying for all of those seeking answers.  Please pray for the healing and peace for all of those who are sick, their families and the doctors and nurses that care for them.

No matter how healthy or how sick, our children are our everything!


Happiness is...

>> Monday, August 22, 2011

Flying airplanes through the house...
Coloring all Saturday morning in PJ's...
Putting stickers all over Momma's house...

Drinking homemade milkshakes, while Momma and Daddy drink frozen rum drinks:)
and cracking yourself up eating Cheerios in your diaper...

and family date nights for ice cream and art walks!

 What is happiness to you lately?!?


St. Louis Trip - Summer 2011

>> Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It's taken me a few days to get back to posting about our summer trip to St. Louis, as our trip getting there was cause enough for a vacation!

Jackson and I made it back to my sister's house pretty late into the evening, and it was even later by the time I was able to get Jackson settled and asleep. I made a mistake of letting him sleep with me while we were gone, and it's making the big boy bed transition this week harder than it should be.  But, he was sick and has outgrown the pack and play - and well it just felt right at the time.

No sooner then I rested my tired eyes for a couple of hours of sleep, the sun was shining and we were woken up with some sweet cuddles from little Miss Amelia and our vacation officially began.  In true Kerns (our maiden name) fashion, we drank our coffee and cuddled our babies for a good hour on the couch before it was time to shower and pack up again!

As if our travels the night before weren't bad enough, we had to cram in the car for a 3 hour drive to the Lake of the Ozarks to boat with my dad and Mr., who had gone up the day before to get the boat ready for us.  Thank goodness my little butt fit in between two car seats, or I would have been strapped to the roof of the car:)

We made it to the lake a little after noon and it was so good to see Mr. and my dad! We spent the rest of the afternoon on my dad's boat, trying to entertain Jackson and keep him happy...between the diaper blow outs, the horse fly attacks, and running out of diapers...we didn't make it too long.

Sunday was a much better day all around.  After a very rough night, Jackson was starting to feel better and the weather was beautiful.  We took the boat out to lunch and shopped a little before heading back to St. Louis for the rest of our visit.

Monday came and went way too fast! Mr. had to work, so I spent the day shopping and lunching with my sister and the kids.  That afternoon we had an hour to kill before taking Mr. back to the airport, so we made a quick trip to the Zoo! Maybe one of my favorite things to do for free in St. Louis!
Who needs a double stroller?!? :)

We ran through and saw as many animals as we could.  Jackson was amazing by the hippos and elephants - his expressions were priceless!
Mr. made it safely back to Louisiana, and I had one last morning with my sister so we went to the park.  The weather was so so nice in comparison to the oppressive heat we've had lately.  We got some great pictures of our Big Fish and Lil Fish and wore Jackson out before our flight home!

My dad works at the airport, so he took Jackson around to see lots of big planes before we boarded our flight.  Poor little dude still can't figure out that he's on a plane, but that will come soon enough:) And thank goodness, we made it home without any problems!

And because I'm true to my word, I told Jackson that if he'd stay in bed all night last night I would take him to the beach we're heading to Blue Mountain Beach after work today to meet my in-laws:)


Big Boy Bed

>> Monday, August 15, 2011

Well the time has come - Jackson is officially a toddler and no long my baby boy.  I certainly wish that I was saying this because I had a baby growing in my uterus, but that is sadly not the case.

Instead of transitioning Jackson into a big boy bed to free up his crib, we had to make the conversion purely out of safety for our little monkey.  It all started Thursday night through the wee hours of the morning, said monkey climbed, jumped, and leaped out of his crib and waddled his way into our bedroom a total of four times.  While I'm sure this is just a residual affect of the three rounds of steroids he's been on this month, we decided it was probably time for a big boy bed anyway.

I cried like a baby when I had to pack up his crib bed skirt, and flashed back to putting him in his crib for the first time like it was yesterday.

We made sure to make a big deal out of Jackson's new bed and even let him help us put everything together.  However, when nap time came Jackson was completely frazzled by his "broken" bed and kept saying "uh oh" and refused to ever really nap.

Bedtime was about as unsuccessful as nap time and hasn't gotten much better.  My good little sleeper now finds his way to our room at least once an hour, on the hour.  He's even so nice as to close each door behind him.

Waking up to your toddler staring at you while you sleep is a little eerie, to say the least.  Needless to say, I'm a very sleepy momma today and have quickly been reminded what sleep deprivation is.  And for a second, I think twice about hoping for sleepless newborn nights again:)

I know this phase too shall pass - or I'm putting the crib rail back up and tenting Jackson in until he's 18!



Jackson and the terrible, horrible, very bad day

>> Thursday, August 11, 2011

If I could redo a day in our lives, I think last Friday would totally be one of them...

It all started a few weeks ago, when we all got sick on our anniversary. Par for the course, as soon as Jackson finished up his antibiotics he got sick again. We went to his allergist and he was given the official label of an asthmatic toddler. Jackson got another round of steroids to help him breath, but besides his nebulizer medicine - there wasn't much else to do. He has allergies and asthma and we live in South Louisiana.

Fast forward to last week. Jackson was no better, no worse. Just totally irritable and throwing fits left and right. I tried to remind myself that I'd be cranky too if I couldn't breath. We counted to 10 a lot and drank lots of wine after bedtime.

Thursday night was unbearable. Jackson cried from the time I picked him up from school until he finally passed out around 9. During his bath the cries turned in to screams and shaking from pain. I could not figure out what was causing him so much pain. He wouldn't even let me wash the shampoo out of his hair...and that's when I saw it.

Jackson had a marble sized lump behind his left ear and it was red and tender to the touch.

right after Jackson's bath, when I first noticed the lump
I took this pictures and sent it to my mom and mother-in-law, who were both as dumbfound as I was. We couldn't tell if it was a bite or a bruise - certainly the farthest thing from what he was diagnosed with!
Around midnight, Jackson was sleeping but momma was up worrying...
Of course, the timing of this lump couldn't have been any worse. We were flying to St. Louis Friday afternoon and Mr. went up for work the day before us. I had an out of town meeting all day on Friday, that I would have canceled had I known what was about to happen...

I called Jackson's pediatrician first thing Friday morning and arranged for my mom to take Jackson to have his lump looked at. I went on with my boss to Baton Rouge and met with a client all morning. We took a quick break at noon and I had numerous missed call from not only my mom, but two doctor's offices as well.

Thank God my mom is so well connected with the medical community where we live, she took him to a few doctors Friday morning to address the multiple issues with Jackson.

The mysterious lump behind Jackson's ear was diagnosed as mastoiditis, which means that he has such a bad ear infection, the infection went into the bone behind his ear and the lump was his bone. The link has much more information about what it actually is.  Serious shit.

Jackson never ran fever or tugged at his ears, and never had drainage.  We've had no trouble with his ears since he got tubes last December.  Jackson was given an antibiotic shot, another round of steroids, and two additional antibiotics that he takes orally for 10 days...we're averaging at least one massive diaper blow out a day.  Oh and if you've lost count, that would be his third round of steroids this month!!!

On top of the mastoiditis, Jackson has an ear infection, server sinus infection, and tonsillitis.  So that nasty eye drainage and "allergy eyes" were because his sinus were so infected, not because his allergies were acting up - thanks Mr. Allergist for missing the boat on that one! And now his ENT wants to talk about taking out his's always something...

If you're still reading this post, our day doesn't get much better after this.  This all happened before noon.

After excusing myself from my meeting to call everyone back, my boss agreed that we needed to end our meeting early so that I could see about Jackson.  So nice right?!? Well it's a darn good thing we left when we did.  Our hour ride home took nearly three hours because of road construction!

Did I mention that we had a 5 o'clock flight to catch - yep, we came dangerously close to missing our flight...until it got canceled! So between seeing about my sick baby, picking up all of his medications, now I had to call the airline to see what the heck we were supposed to do!

Since our flight was canceled due to mechanic issues, they were able to put me on another flight with a different airline.  Great news, I had an extra hour to get to the airport and I'd get in to St. Louis a little earlier!  In theory, this was great news.  The reality was that our connecting flight in Houston was delayed almost 5 hours.
Does he remind you of Dennis the Menace - he should!
If you've never spent 5 hours in an airport with a severely sick child, totally jacked up on steroids, running wild - all while trying to keep you bags in tow and not lose your shit - well then consider yourself blessed!

Thankfully, Jackson was so worn out that he slept the whole way to St. Louis and I was able to recharge as well.
We finally made it to my sister's house in St. Louis around 1AM...more on that next!



Just playing the part...

>> Thursday, August 4, 2011

As if baby 2.0 hasn't been on my mind enough lately, I had to strap on a prosthetic maternity belly last week and play the part of an expectant mother for a client's TV shoot.

While I never mind being on camera, the irony of this part just made all of us laugh.  Here we are trying to get pregnant and having to act as if we are well on our way to becoming a family of 4.

I think that maybe the strap on belly was just what my body needed to have baby fever completely take over.  I sure did ovulate shortly after the shoot, putting me at 5 days past ovulation and my basal body temperature on the rise.  So here we are in the lovely two week wait time period and I'm pretty sure my boobs are so sore because I'm poking at them to check to see if they hurt every other minute!

After the shoot we asked Jackson if he'd prefer a baby sister or brother and as clear as day he shouted out sister.  Not sure if he really knows the difference, but it was too sweet:)

In the dressing room, with my big ol' fake belly
snap shot on set - my make up looked much better on TV then camera!
love my wild little man:)
Oh and I only wish that I could look this "all belly" next time around...whenever that may be.  I'm really trying to let go and let God!

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