Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Croup and Cancer

Well, last night was no fun. About an hour before bedtime Violet started coughing with an ominous barking sound and although she did go to bed without any trouble, she woke up shortly in full-fledged croup mode, coughing away like a miserable little seal and sounding TERRIBLE every time she took a breath. It was not a restful night, to say the least, as she dozed in and out of wretched wakefulness.

Grace had her share of colds while a baby but never really had that specific croupy cough, while this is not the first time Violet has done the whole nighttime seal-like barking and wheezy stridor and all that. It's like they are whole different people or something. Anyway, croup always makes me think about Anne of Green Gables. Right? Anybody? Remember when Diana's baby sister had croup and Anne saved her life by giving her some medicine that made her cough up the phlegm? (Speaking of which, I got phlegm coughed up on me last night. AWESOME.) Croup always seemed like such a big deal in all those old-fashioned books, something that babies could die from, so this made me need to look it up. It turns out that croup (the wheezing and barking cough) used to be often caused by diphtheria, which was really serious for babies and small children and had a fatality rate of up to 20% for them. We immunize against diphtheria now (it's the D in DTaP for all you mommy types out there) so nobody gets it anymore. (At least not until the vaccine-refusing crowd makes us lose our herd immunity...) Now croup is usually just caused by some run-of-the-mill respiratory virus that runs its course and doesn't do anybody too much harm. Thus, today I am really struck with how amazing vaccines are, realizing that they have changed my problem from worrying whether my baby will be among the 20% who die to losing some sleep.

I am 100% convinced she got whatever respiratory virus this is from the church nursery on Sunday. Violet has not been a regular in our church nursery because she has always napped in the mornings so I just kept her with me and she would sleep through the whole service cuddled up in the sling. She is dropping her morning nap, though, and it is time to get her adjusted to the nursery. She was NOT A FAN at first but I've been sitting in there with her and she is doing much better; I bet in another several weeks I'll be able to leave her by herself without her flipping out. This hatred of group childcare settings has been a new thing for me with Violet; Grace was always totally fine with it. In fact, Grace would cry when I would leave her at home with somebody (Rob, babysitter, etc) while tolerating group settings just fine, the exact opposite of Violet. Again, it's as if they are entirely different people or something. Anyway, I sat with Violet on Sunday in the nursery and I was struck by what a germy soup of babies it was, all of them putting their mouths on all the toys and half of them with runny noses. I commented about it to Rob that afternoon, and then there we were 30 hours later with Violet all sick and stuff. I don't know how people with babies in daycare do it. You put your baby there because you need to go to work, but then daycare makes them sick and you have to stay home from work to take care of them-- a vicious cycle! Eventually they will build up immune systems of steel, I suppose, but getting to that stage must be painful.

While I'm yammering on about health and medical issues, I'll share the most serious one on our minds these days. Rob's dad is having a serious recurrence of the cancer he first had a few years ago. They are going to see a panel of cancer specialists tomorrow at Stanford, but it looks like there is a major surgery in his immediate future and some unwelcome permanent changes to his life and daily routines. Rob's parents are worried and stressed, of course, and many of our thoughts and prayers these days are with them. Rob's dad doesn't share our perspective on faith, which makes dealing with such big, hard things even harder. It certainly puts all Violet's snot and phlegm in perspective on the one hand, but on the other hand it makes me realize that none of us is guaranteed a tomorrow, despite vaccines and chemo and car seats with 5-point harnesses. And that makes me change the way I will approach today, when I will stay home with my sick baby and not-yet-sick toddler, wiping noses and butts and hopefully being fully present in the sweet everyday moments with them.


Amy B. said...

Prayers for all the sick one's in your family! xo

Carlie said...

I am so sorry Violet's sick and even sorrier to hear about your father-in-law...you guys sure do have cancer in your world at the moment. Yikes!

Our church nursery has a rule that no child is allowed who has any sign of illness...its kinda harsh when its your kid who just has a lingering cough or a touch of a runny nose but when your kid is healthy it feels like a really good plan.

angie.a said...

Ah, I hope baby Violet is feeling much better by now. :( That's the worst!

And yes! Anne!!! I bought my Lu the entire DVD set, all 3 films. Have you seen the 3rd? It's not quite the same caliber, but it's Anne! And Gilbert!!