At the risk of sounding like one of those parents who thinks everything their kid does is earth shattering, as a fellow blogger pointed out recently, apparently that is common when you only have one child. I always love how parents with more than one kid try to pretend that parents with one kid are somehow not really full-fledged parents, because we have sooooooo much more free time than they do. Granted, there are things that we parents-of-one don't experience that truly must up the annoyance factor, like fighting, sibling rivalry, two sick kids, getting two kids ready, shlepping two kids, etc. But parents of more than one do forget one thing in this equation, often their kids, at least as they grow up also at least have the potential to entertain one another. When you are the parents of the only child, umm guess who has to be the entertainment? But, I digress, this is not what I wanted to write about at all. Apparently though I have a lot to say on the topic so I will post about that another time.
Onto the topic at hand.
This morning we woke up to a treat. Maya's leg, or more correctly the back of her leg woke up with a nasty, red looking infection looking like a cross between falling asleep under the sun lamp and measles. This thing looked angry, like Mel Gibson kind of angry, and it was taking no prisoners. An hour after she woke up spots were making their way up her legs. To be honest I noticed it on Friday when there was one small sore on the back of Maya's knee, I asked her what it was and if it was itchy and she said it wasn't, so I just figured it was a bug bite or some kind of playground mishap and left well enough alone. Yesterday when Maya came inside after playing outside at the playground for a blissful 2 full hours I noticed it looked a bit worse. But Maya has had Excema all her life and she doesn't have what I call champion skin. There is nearly always some part of her that is red, itchy or a little bumpy or splotchy. Granted last night after her bath it looked worse, but often her Excema and her skin tolerance is less when the weather hot so I just figured that a good night's sleep and Maya not scratching it would help. So I loaded her up with some antihistimine and some steroid cream which usually stops the itching enough that she can sleep deeply and figured Maya's curious little fingers not being frequent visitors would be enough for this thing to start fading. Not so, it was 5 times worse this morning and after some quick Internet searching I was pretty sure it was impetigo.
Maya had impetigo once when she was a baby and we were visiting my mom in the US in August, she caught the bacteria from somewhere and the combination of the hot, humid temperatures and her irrational fear of taking baths in strange places (she screamed so loud and so long the first night we tried to give her a bath at my mom's that one of my mom's neighbors came over, sure that someone was beating the crap out of her). It was so bad that I just stopped bathing her at night instead gave her a quiet bath at the hotel with either Leo and I in the tub and figured I was still bathing her once a day, that would be enough. Within a few days she had it and we knew then it wasn't excema, why? Because she didn't sleep a wink all night and just screamed and screamed the entire night, again so loud and so long the hotel front desk called us to see if we were beating the crap out of her. I am telling you we were lucky to get through that vacation without Maya getting a foster family. After one night of no sleep and desperate with a screaming, shrieking baby on my hands we went to the emergency room and they diagnosed it, gave her oral anti biotics and within a day her skin still looked awful but she had calmed down. Fun vacation, my mom's neighbors did always kind of give me the eye anytime they saw me, I think they were not quite convinced that we weren't using Maya as a tennis ball.
Yesterday though I didn't quite come up with Impetigo because Maya wasn't screaming and was sleeping and I just figured it couldn't be impetigo sans screaming. But after surfing the net a bit and looking at pictures of impetigo I was pretty sure it was. Leo called the weekend medical service and they asked us to bring Maya to the Urgicare. Surprise of surprises, they took us right away (socialized medicine for you, ERs not crammed with uninsured people as their only manner to get medical attention). We walked in and the doctor looked at her for a total of 5/10's of a second and said, it's Impetigo and then proceeded to ask us if we wanted oral antibiotics or antibiotic cream. He recommended the cream first since the Impetigo was still largely localized to (now) both legs. He told us to try it for two days and see if it improved, if not to go back to our family doctor and get her on the oral antibiotics. He instructed us to first wash the wounds with betadyne , pat her dry and apply the ointment twice a day, warning us that while the wounds were open it would sting her. Yeah, joy of joys.
So, we came home from the pharmacy, antibiotic ointment and betadyne in hand, I asked Maya to go lay down on her belly. I got one of her little bathtub buckets, washed it, and filled it with betadyne soap and warm water, grabbed a washcloth and towel and went to her. I carefully washed each spot and her body was tensing up so I knew that it stung her and then I put the cream on her. When I was done the first time and she turned over, she had tears in her eyes and I hugged her, she cried for about 5 minutes saying it hurt, but then she calmed down. I repeated this after her shower tonight and she didn't cry this time, but each time it stung, her body tensed and she whispered to herself "just keep relaxing, just keep relaxing." She said that to herself about 20 times while I put the cream on her and tried to dab it in ever so gentle. I was amazed at her bravery and how calmly she handled what I know hurt her.
It made me start thinking about how much I dreaded her ever being sick. Why? Well besides the fact that it is awful to see your kid sick and suffering, blah, blah, blah but also because getting her to take medicine was one of the hardest things EVER with her. Maya, a kid with excema, whose quality of life depends on salves and ointments has for most of her life violently resisted taking medicine. Until she was the only way I could rub on her excema ointment and give her relief was to wait until she fell asleep and then try to uncurl arms and legs without waking her and gently rub it on. Any oral medication, whether it be children's Tylenol, antihistamine (a must for her every day in spring or summer or else all she would do is scratch herself and sneeze) had to be mixed in her apple juice (which I am sure dulled its effectiveness) or I had to wait until Leo was home to hold her down while I somehow shoved it in her mouth, we were lucky if we got 1/3 to 1/2 of the dosage in. When she got a little bit older she would just spit it out at us. It got to the point where I would take my top off when I gave her medicine, so at least then I wouldn't stain a shirt. When I give her pills I use an old trick I learned volunteering at the nursing home where my mom worked, I crushed the pills and put it in applesauce. Maya + medicine = tantrum. That was Maya's reality, a fact of her life and ours. But apparently no more.
So, while I hate seeing my daughter suffer from impetigo, it has made me again realize just how far she has come. She understands that taking medicine, while not pleasant is something that is sometimes necessary and that relaxing may not make it more pleasant but helps her to cope with it another way, without tantrums, without it totally wearing her out, without it costing her so much. She has given herself a mantra to hold onto. Yeah, sure it ain't a Nobel Prize, it's not National Honor Society and it is not a blue ribbon, it's not even one of those silly participation trophies. Maybe if I would have had another kid I would not even think twice about it, but apparently since I just have one kid and all the time in the world on my hands I have decided to make a mountain out of a molehill.
But you know what? I am glad that I am the kind of parent who makes a mountain out of a molehill when it comes to my child and her development. I don't know what caused Maya's autism and I don't know exactly what causes her to take steps forward, both great and small but even though I don't have scientific proof, I am convinced that my husband's and my positive reinforcement and encouragement through praise has been good for her. Three years ago my child was afraid of stepping on grass or from moving from carpet to tile. This was a child who truly believed from the core of her soul to the top of her brain that the world is a scary place. My child spent so much time being paralyzed from fear or throwing tantrums out of frustration. Now my child can face a lot of those fears and she has taught herself to soothe herself by repeating a little mantra.
Damn right that is something to be proud of and to celebrate.