Thursday, July 20, 2006

Family update

There's a question at the end of this, if you want to skip all the family

Lyndsay is improving, so that ends a very worrying couple of weeks.

It started over Independence Day weekend. She didn't feel well, but toughed
it out at work and got through her shift on Monday. She was scheduled to
work Independence Day too, and although she reported for work at 7AM, she
was home and in bed by 930. She was achy, tired, and ran a mild fever.

Jordan had a pile of fireworks for that evening, but since Lyndsay was sick,
he had to set them off all by himself. It was a sacrifice, but he was
willing to shoulder the load. Lyndsay sat in a lawn chair, wrapped in a
blanket because she felt cold. She watched the fireworks, but seemed
listless. Fortunately she wasn't on the work schedule for a few days.

She dragged herself around the house becoming progressively sicker and
weaker as days passed. Mary kept a watchful eye on her temperature, and
when she spiked at 104.7F early one morning, Mary called the family doctor.
His receptionist said that they couldn't see her until late that afternoon.
This wasn't acceptable, so Mary took Lyndsay to the local emergency clinic.

Initially, the clinic doctor thought Lyndsay had a virus and it would pass.
He gave her a prescription and sent her home with instructions to visit
again if she didn't improve in a few days. She didn't improve. She
developed a higher fever, tea-colored urine, and jaundice - all symptoms of
hepatitis and other liver diseases. When she went back to the clinic, he
called to get her a hospital room.

That's when it got scary.

We had a flat tire on the way to the hospital, right along a busy part of
US75. I changed it quickly and still dripped with sweat as we arrived at
the hospital.

She was admitted and placed in a private room for isolation. Since there
was a possibility she was infectious, they didn't want to take the chance
that she'd infect another patient. Fighting the fever was difficult.
Tylenol fights fever very well, but it also causes some liver problems. She
was already showing some liver involvement, so they brought her temperature
down with cold compresses. The doctor aptly described her illness as the
"flu from Hell".

Lyndsay had CAT scans and x-rays, and a host of blood tests. She saw a
couple of doctors, all of them seeming to agree that she had hepatitis E, a
relatively rare form of the disease in the United States, but more common in
other parts of the world. She tested negative for all forms of hepatitis,
and the doctors ruled out tumors, cancer, or a blockage.

Mary stayed at the hospital with Lyndsay. Neither of them slept much. The
nursing staff clearly appreciated having Mary there to help, and several of
them commented on the obvious tight bond between mother and daughter.

Jordan and I had to fend for ourselves at home. He had football practice
each morning, so I'd get him to practice and back. We'd have lunch, then go
down to the hospital. Jordan had great difficulty dealing with the stress
of seeing his sister so dangerously ill. He babbled and paced, unable to
help, but full of nervous energy that needed an outlet. He did some long
walks through the hospital. After a couple of days, he was our tour guide
because he'd been everywhere.

On Friday afternoon, Lyndsay was released. They still didn't know what she
had, but the blood work indicated she was getting better.

Since then, her fever has gone up and down. The spikes were progressively
lower and further apart. The jaundice disappeared. She started sleeping
normally again in the last couple of days, sleeping through the night rather
than catnapping around the clock. She's taking fluids and her appetite is
coming back slowly, but she's unnervingly pale, with sunken cheeks and
flattened affect.

Yesterday, we visited the doctor's office for more blood work. Her liver
enzymes continue to improve. But the tests offered no further information
about what had made her ill in the first place. Regardless, recovery may
take two or three months and she may have permanent liver damage.

Mary was curious as to what other conditions mimicked hepatitis, so she did
a bit of searching and turned up some interesting information. Chronic
dehydration can cause headaches, dizziness, liver enlargement, tea-colored
urine, and fever. We're wondering if this could be Lyndsay's problem. She
worries about getting fat, and we know she doesn't normally drink enough.
Could this have developed from dehydration? I don't know, because while
I've dehydrated badly once or twice, I've never experienced these symptoms.

(Late Thursday)

The doctor's office called to tell us she's been diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus, a form of infectious mononucleosis. Mary looked it up on the CDC site. In 20% of the cases, it attacks the liver, and just like hepatitis, it can take months to recover. Nearly all adults have been exposed, but most developed cold or flu-like symptoms.

Now we know what we're fighting.


Blogger Fritz said...

At least there's a name for it which helps. When we were very young my younger brother was hospitalized for something like what your daughter had/has. The docs never figured it out, and after about a week my brother was all better and discharged.

You wrote you had a question at the end. What is it?

3:20 PM  

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