Actually, what she had was a cough. Her nose wasn't running anymore, her head wasn't stuffy, but her cough was lingering on and on.
We sent her to Girls on the Run practice as usual, thinking that the fresh, cold air and exercise could help clear out the lungs once and for all. But it didn't get better. We kept sending her to school, since she wasn't feeling too poorly, wasn't running a fever and just had this nagging cough.
Finally, this past Sunday her cough got to the point where she was gasping for breath. She had circles under her eyes from the strain and disjointed sleep, and her sides hurt from the coughing.
So Monday I stayed home from school with her and took her to the doctor. The pediatrician decided to do a whooping cough test, even though she thought it would come back negative. They put what looks like a Q-tip on a very, very long flexible wand so far up her nose I thought they were going to tickle her brain. God bless Marissa, she did so well during the test even though she was super scared to do it. She's a much better kid than I was at that age, that's for sure.
The doctor sent us out the door with a prescription for Zithromax and said that we would treat it like whooping cough until we knew for sure if it was or wasn't. In the meantime, Marissa could go to school until we got the test results, especially since she wasn't running a fever.
I should clarify -- she wasn't running a fever at the doctor's office. The pediatrician asked me if she'd been running a fever and I said no, even though the battery on our electronic thermometer had been dead for months and I hadn't been able to actually get a temperature on her this entire time. The first of a series of "mom of the year" award-winning moves.
So she and I spent the rest of the day Monday snuggling together, watching movies, reading and enjoying each other's company. It was actually quite nice.
Tuesday morning Marissa awoke and said she had a headache and didn't want to go to school. She didn't feel warm (using the hand-on-forehead scientific method still), so we gave her some ibuprofen and sent her on her way. We did have her skip Girls on the Run, though.
Same thing Wednesday. Doesn't feel like going. Gave her ibuprofen and sent her anyway.
Same thing Thursday. Doesn't feel like going. Get her up and dressed and she and I head to Bruegger's since it's free coffee day, a fundraising event for Gillette. While there I missed a call from her pediatrician's office. I pick up the voice mail and hear that the test came back positive for whooping cough. Not what I expected.
In the next hour of phone calls here's what I learn about whooping cough:
- It is a reportable disease, meaning the pediatrician has to notify the state about this diagnosis.
- The treatment is antibiotics but she is still highly contagious during the first 5 days of treatment. Even though she's been on Zithromax since Monday, she must stay out of school the rest of the week.
- Not only should she stay out of school but she needs to stay out of all public places.
- The entire family must be treated with antibiotics as well so we don't develop it.
- Her cough is expected to last another 3 to 4 weeks.
- Anyone who has spent more than 10 hours with her in close contact (like my sister who was just visiting from Indiana over the weekend) must be notified and should contact their doctor.
- She can and did develop whooping cough despite being vaccinated against it because the vaccine is no longer 100% effective. Why isn't it? Because so many other families don't vaccinate their kids against it, per the pediatrician.
I also learned that whooping cough is an annoyance for kids Marissa's age and healthy adults, but can be deadly to little babies and those with compromised immune systems, which is why it is monitored so closely. Had Marissa been around any little ones in the past 2 weeks? Um….yeah, we had her cousins over for dinner one night, the littlest one is only a year old. Crap.
For days Marissa had been saying she didn't feel like going to school and we'd been sending her. Parents of the year award coming our way, both of us.
So if you're looking for us this weekend, we'll be right here in our house, quarantined, the four of us. I think some books and movies are in our immediate future. Maybe some apple pie. Hey, I have to earn back that "Mom of the Year" title, right?