Monday, November 29, 2004

So when can I start parenting?

Since the birth of my youngest kitten, my male, I have not had a moment's peace. Oh, I'm not talking about the usual sibling fights and the rambunctiousness of a toddler and the worries about safety. I'm talking about illnesses.

My son is very ill with a mystery disease. He's been sick for several months. Cough, cough, cough. That's what he sounds like all the time. He can't get through a sentence without coughing. Yes, there are times when he'll get through an entire morning without coughing. Most of the time, though, he is coughing.

A month, ago, or so -- I'm not sure because I'm losing track of time and dates -- he was diagnosed with what the doctor thought was pneumonia. We were suspicious, because the cough has gone on for months, but we took the antibiotic and ran with it.

After a week of no improvement, we went back and got a new antibiotic.

After two weeks, he improved for one day and then we ran out of that antibiotic, and he started up coughing again.

We were then given a steroid puffer. After a week and a half, no improvement.

Today, he was coughing so hard he was gagging, so we caved in to extreme fatigue and chronic worry and took him to the ER.

Doc there says he thinks kitten has pertussis. That's right, pertussis. Whooping freaking cough! Turns out the immunization only works on about 80% of kids. However, doc is concerned because my son has been sick for a longer period of time. Also, he now has an ear infection in both ears. Off we go with more antibiotics and a referral to a paediatric respirologist.

So let's see where we are now:

We have two chest x-rays, one in August and one in November. Both are normal.

We have one head x-ray to check the adenoids and tonsils. Normal.

The internet tells me chronic cough could be cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis, or pneumonia. (I know, you may *spank* me for internetting).

We know he doesn't have pneumonia. Cystic fibrosis, I just found out tonight, has been present on DH's side of the family. No known cases on my side, though. Plus, kitten doesn't seem to have any gastro problems that are typical with CF.

So that leaves two unknowns: tuberculosis and now pertussis, both communicable diseases. So how could kitten get one of these rare infections?

Enter my cousin. She lives in a little town outside of Atlanta. She is in her mid-thirties, and has six children with six different BF's. She's lost all of her children due to negligence and a nasty bout with drug addiction. She's been in and out of jail. Currently, as far as I know, she is back in jail.

Because my cousin lives down south and I live in Canada, I haven't seen her in many years. But her mother, my aunt, lives here in my city, in the same apartment as my mother. In fact, their apartments are side by side.

So the last time my cousin went to jail, she lost custody of her one remaining child, the baby, who I'll call Jake. Jake is two. My aunt high-tailed it down to Georgia to beg some judge for temporary custody of Jake. She won, with the promise that she would not let Jake near his mother. Well, since the mother cannot keep herself out of jail, this should not be a problem.

(I should mention here that, in spite of the many problems my aunt has had over the years with my cousin, I do have a small place in my heart for sympathy for the poor girl, who was sexually abused by my uncle for many years. It's no wonder she's so fvcked up.)

So little Jake came to Canada. It was nice for my son, who has a weekly sleepover at Gramma's to have a little playmate on Saturday nights. They got along famously!

Then my son came down with a terrible cold. Coughing, hacking, sputtering, went on for about a week. My mother came over and as kitten started hacking and coughing, she said she hopes that he didn't catch Jake's terrible cough. "He's been coughing for weeks and he can't seem to get rid of it!" I'm like WTF? Thanks a lot, Gramma, for letting my kid play with this coughing-for-weeks kid! Holy fvck! What were you thinking? I found out later that DH's inner voice was shouting the exact same thing at the exact minute.

So my mother went on to explain that no cough syrups or cold medications were helping this poor boy. A doctor? "Oh, no! She can't afford to take him to the doctor. He's an American citizen, so he isn't covered by OHIP, and she's unemployed, so she can't afford to take him."

I have two issues here: what judge in their right mind would let this toddler go to another country without proper assurance that the child would receive proper health care? The second issue is immunization. Are children immunized for free in the states? Because if they are, my aunt doesn't know about it. When asked if the child is up-t0-date on his immunizations, the answer is "I don't know."

I told my mother that I wasn't happy about my kitten being around this chronically ill child. She then backtracks and says that kitten's cough is "different" than Jake's. Yeah, right. Can you tell I have some issues with my mother?

Well, so began many long months of coughing, doctor's appointments, ER visits, sleepless nights, frantic googling, and nervous breakdowns.

Now, I've heard kitten may have pertussis. No doubt, if he has it, he caught it from Jake, the poor child who has not had the good fortune of visiting a doctor about his condition. (I hear he is better, but I don't know that firsthand. We haven't seen the child in months.)

I'm so mad I'm just spitting nails. Not only has my own doctor been merely treating a symptom instead of trying to find the root cause, but I, as a parent, have done everything possible -- everything that is expected of me -- to keep my child well. I've kept his vaccinations updated, I've taken him to doctors and ER's, I've begged for follow-up, and he's still ill and I still don't know what's wrong with him.

This kitten has been plagued by developmental problems, too. He's fine now, but still very shy. He was a late walker, a late talker and a late trainer. I wasn't worried because I was all of the above when I was a kid, and I turned out just peachy.

But doctors started tossing words about. Austism. Fragile-X. It was terrifying. And to make matters worse, it went on for years.

You could say that I feel cheated out of my son's kittenhood. I really haven't had a moments peace of just putting my arms around him and feeling 100% love as opposed to 100% love and 200% anxiety. Hopefully, in the coming days after he sees yet another physician, this will change for the better. I just can't help but worry that it will change for the worse.

All that keeps me going really are the false diagnoses of autism and fragile-x. I wish I could go back and tell myself that nothing was going to come of all that. Hopefully, sometime in the near future, I'll look back and wish I could come back to this time and place, and give myself a big *hug* and tell myself it's all going to be okay.


At 6:51 AM, Blogger Asrai said...

Oh honey, this breaks my heart. I wish I could be there to kick some ass, so you and kitten can just be. I hope the poor little guy gets much better VERY soon.

He has suffered way more than any child should over someone's stupidity, laziness, and ineptitude. Of course, I'm not talking about you, hon. You've been an amazing mom through all this, I know.

I pray that you finally get a much needed answer to what's ailing your kitten. Much love from me to you, sweetie!

At 4:58 PM, Blogger frisky said...


That's for taking the time to read my incessant whining. :) You know I luv ya. *smooch*

At 1:22 PM, Blogger TechNoir said...

Nope, kids aren't immunized for free in the U.S. Health care is, apparently, a privilege shared by the financially able.

I'm still wondering about asthma. I coughed for two years before they diagnosed the darn stuff.

Best with the little one ... I'm so sorry you're both in pain.

At 9:21 PM, Blogger Dave Clapper said...

*hugs* Hope some answers are found soon.

At 4:41 PM, Blogger Breezy said...

Poor Kitten. *hug*


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