In mid December my daughter had a cold for a few days and appeared to be recovering quickly. Two days later she woke up with severe stomach pain. Fearing she had a bowel obstruction, I rushed her to the ER where they quickly dismissed her. Seven days, four emergency room visits at three different hospitals, and one pediatrician checkup later, we learned that she had pneumonia in a lower portion of her lung. By the time the doctors began treating her appropriately, she could barely walk, lost over five pounds, constant fevers, and was frightfully ill. It was a nightmare that, by the grace of God, ended a day before Christmas Eve.
Flash forward to New Years Day and I now have two sick teenagers; another daughter was now ill, and so was my oldest son. Fifteen days later — I still had sick kids! How? What? Seriously?
Twenty days later.
Still sick. But now my son had an upper respiratory infection which they feared was turning into pneumonia.
Are you ready for more?
After all three teens recovered from their month-long illnesses, I fell ill with the flu. A week later, just when I thought I was getting better, pneumonia.
What You Need to Know About This Year’s Flu
This year’s flu is doing horrible things to the lungs! When my oldest son was in the hospital for an upper respiratory infection a week after he fell ill with the flu, I really paid attention to what they said to do. They told me to buy the over the counter Mucinex 1200 mg and Tylenol for pain/fever. Then they gave him prescription antibiotic, steroids, and cough suppressants.
You would think after three teenagers fell ill with flu, upper respiratory infections, and pneumonia, I would know how to avoid getting pneumonia myself, right?
Mommies. I did everything right. I didn’t lay in bed all day; even sat outside on my porch for fresh air a few times every day. I moved around when I could. Rested when I needed to rest. Took Mucinex 1200 mg as directed. Vicks on my feet (no, it doesn’t work as well on adults like it does children, but I thought it would still help a little.) Steam showers. Vitamin C. Fruit juices. You name it, I did it.
I even thought I was getting better. Just like my daughter. Just like my son. About a week after the flu set in, I was feeling alright and even shampooed my bedroom carpet (we have a new kitten. Oh my! That’s another post.) Two days later. I’m back feeling terrible and now I have severe pain in my chest. Back to the ER because I knew what the chest xray was going to say. Pneumonia. I was so ill at this point that my nurse practitioner says to me before I’m discharged:
“Oh honey. You are so sick. Of all the people I have seen today, this week even,
I feel for you. That doesn’t happen very often.
I see a lot of sick people. [shakes head]. I feel so sorry for you.”
I don’t know if that was supposed to make me feel better, exactly. But I do know that I am now two weeks out and I still have pain in my chest when I breathe deeply and I still can’t pickup my toddlers with the usual ease. This is brutal!
What Should You Do About the Flu? What Can You Do?
Like I said, I thought I was doing everything right. I really did. I did everything I knew to do under the usual circumstances. This years’ flu isn’t the usual flu. That’s the first thing you really need to understand. This years’ flu is doing horrible things to the lungs. What you need to know is how to know when to go to the hospital. Because we know how to treat “the flu”, but many of us don’t really know when the flu has turned into something more.
How to Know When to Go to the Hospital with the Flu
- If your family member/child has the flu ask them if they can breathe deeply for you. Ask them to give you five deep breaths every hour. (Could they do it? Was it painful? Did they struggle?)
- When you check on your child, ask them to lift their arms over their head. (Could they do it? Was it painful? Did they struggle?)
- If you notice your child is sitting upright without leaning back on the pillow/chair/couch — ask them if it hurts.
- When your child coughs, do they hold their stomach or chest in a way that looks like they are in pain?
- If you notice anything that makes you question, really question, your child’s health and safety – go to the hospital!
One More Thing…
If you have a children’s hospital within driving distance, go there with your children. Our local hospital treated my daughter for a UTI because that was the first test that came up as positive — even after I politely protested and asked them to keep looking. When we returned, they looked further but didn’t give her the right medicine to treat the “tiny” pneumonia spot on her lung. I took her to another nearby hospital where I was scolded for “taking up there time”. When we followed up with our pediatrician, she was baffled that the hospital was treating her illness with such little regard. She looked at me and said
“I want you to leave here and take her to Children’s immediately.”
Mind you, Children’s was a two-plus hour drive, but I did it. I wish I had done it sooner! They had her on the right medicine and mostly recovered within 48 hours!
Disclaimer: I am NOT a doctor and in no way am I giving you medical advice. Please see/call your family’s physician if you have questions about your family’s illness during the flu season.
Post originally appeared on Mommy’s Playbook on 2/18/2018, but the message is timeless!