Last winter I expected Zoé to get sick. I imagined that going from African dry, hot days and cold, dry nights to a typical European winter of dry/wet/windy days and freezing nights would be a real shock for a 6 months’ old system.

So we built up our outings from a short 5 min walk on 01.01.12 to a longer 10 min walk on 02.01.12 etc. Once, she seemed to take it well, we started to go to play groups so she could gradually come in contact with Europa’s typical winter viruses and diseases. She hardly got a cold during the whole of last winter.

Now, comes winter 2012-2013 and she has gotten one thing after the other. It first started with a mild fever for a day or two that was really easy to control and her behaving rather normal. So I did not think much of it but there was this strange urine smell every time I would change her nappy. Because, we were to have her 18 months pead visit, I got an appointment only to find out she had a urinary tract infection, that already found its way up the kidneys (pyro-nephritis)…. bad, dangerous stuff. What I thought would be a short routine visit turned out to be a full and intense afternoon of urine samples, blood samples, emergency ultrasounds and 2 weeks of strong antibiotics. The strong meds cured the infection but also made her more “unwell” than the disease itself. Less energy, no appetite, clingy etc.

Then, a week after, we left to visit my family in law for Hanukkah for a week. DH felt sick as he woke up the first morning. 4 days flu. Zoé didn’t seem to get it (she behaved like sick because of the antibiotics anyways but did not develop fever etc like DH). I felt flu-ish-bad for 1 day.

She stops the antibiotics, eats a bit better. … We come back to Switzerland and 2 nights later she feels burning hot. I measure her fever: 35.9°C. “The thermometer must be broken” I thought. The next day she behaves like her usual self so I forget everything about fixing or buying a new thermometer until the following night, when she feels burning hot again (I of course feel very irresponsible). Comes Saturday morning with the resolution to go to the chemist and have a) this fairly new and very expensive ear-thermometer fixed and b) a real measure of her temperature. Chemist lady did not want to change the thermometer (still under guarantee) and comes up with a bullsh*t story that because Zoé’s left ear measures 38.2°C and the right ear only 37.0°C, said (broken) thermometer is in perfect working condition but that the poor child probably has an ear infection and that we should quickly leave her store, (with broken device) and speed up to the emergency room instead of wasting time doubting the quality of her (bad) merchandise. Guess what ? Not only did we do exactly that, we also bought a new, even more expensive, digital frontal thermometer !!! (Not only feeling irresponsible but now also over-emotional)

We arrive at the pead that stood in that Saturday and of course, we tell him, that our daughter probably has an ear infection. He measures her fever: 39.2°C. There goes the Chemist’s theory on the thermometer not being broken. He checks, scrapes and confirms that she not only has 1 ear infection, but a double ear infection. There goes the Chemist’s theory on hot ear = infected ear. A new course of antibiotics, firm resolution to never, EVER go to that chemist again but happy that her bullsh*t urged us to the Doc, we come home, try to make our now burning hot and miserable toddler feel a bit better. We give her the first (huge) dose of antibiotics that, judging by the look on her face, seems to taste very bitter. We push, push and push the substance inside her miserable (full of little cracks due to a candida infection that flares up under (previous) antibiotic treatment and weak immunity) little mouth, promising that it is good for her and that she will feel better (I, now feeling, not only irresponsible, very-over-emotional but mostly and plainly : “a lyer”…..).

She gets better. We relax. For. 24. hours.

After that, she vomits her antibiotics. She is unable to calm down (read wired) till 23:30 at night and fever slowly but surely surging up to 41°C at Christmas Night. She was anxious. Chanting a mantra. Boiling. Contracting her little fists in cramp-like movements. I was terrified especially when the fever did not go down despite the panadols, ibuprofens etc that we would give her, every 4 hours. While my DH called the hospital’s emergency, I opened her PJ’s, the window, cooled her hands and feet with cool cloth, prayed that the fever would go down …. especially when all we could hear on the telephone’s other end sounded like : “all our lines are actually occupied…” !! Occupied, on Christmas Night ?!

After 30 or 45 min, the fever started to subside to a “stable” 39.5°C…..

We got to the Clinic where, lucky us, our usual Pead was on duty on Christmas Day. He changed her meds, gave her penicillin and was worried she had a beginning pneumonia cause the strangle whistle like sounds she made when breathing. He asked us, to update him in 24 hours.

1 hour after giving her the penicillin, things were looking much better. She was not her usual self, but more playful and her fever was down. We update the Pead 24 hours after and he told us to continue the treatment for another week.

Things looked like sorted. We relax. For. 24. hours.

Fever rising again. Climbing to 39.5°C. We go back to the Pead. Make X-ray of her longs. Take a blood sample and a sample of the mucus in her noose.
X-ray shows that her longs are ok. Mucus shows that she now (also?) has the flu. We stop penicillin. Go home. Be sick. Keep her fever in control. I now also got flu. We slept. And sweated. And drunk water. And slept. And got better. Together.

This experience left me wondering:

1) is this how young children make their anti-bodies ? would it then not be better to give them less strong doses of antibiotics to stimulate their own bodies to “do the job” and create strong immunity ?

2) it all happened exactly 1 year after we met/came home. could her body now finally relax and let her guard down ? is it a way her body expresses trauma that could be associated with abandonment/adoption/radical change ?

Would love to read your opinions, experiences and views …. Please share.