A word about viral fevers

When A1 was 10 months old, she had her first cold. I thought 99 degrees was a fever. Psssh. This is normal. I gave her Tylenol, despite the fact that my mother cautioned me against this. She was illness free prior to this, and didn’t get her next “mystery virus” until she was 16 months. I was pregnant with A2.

Her temperature was 102. I took this rectally, as the AAP and our pediatricians recommend. I brought her in after dealing with this random fever for a day or two. I saw the physician’s assistant, which I hate doing for my own appointments. I think doctors give a more accurate diagnosis. Our PA is nice, but she made my toddler a science experiment. Leave your hypotheses in med school. Don’t touch my kid.

They checked her ears. They were fine. The listened to her breathing. It was fine. The PA then said she’d order a urinary catheterization. What the hell?! What are you doing to my poor little girl? The nurse, who I like, was kind as always. She even comforted my stressed out, crying, hormonal self as I watched my oldest daughter scream from this “pencil tip” width tube being inserted into her tiny urethra. Jesus, even I had an epidural when I had that thing put in—she had NOTHING!

Oh, but wait. This gets better.

I was directed to take a sample lab kit for the hospital’s outpatient center to perform BLOOD TESTS on her. I then had to take her to the same place I had my glucose tolerance test done for gestational diabetes. (Three hours of unnecessary torture, all because I ate two hours before then. Lesson learned). These stupid techs held her down, and made me assist. They are cold and uncaring with toddlers. I wanted to punch them in the face. I stood there crying while she screamed. They didn’t give a shit.

The test results, urine and blood work, all came back fine. I tortured my baby for nothing. I was pissed.

Fast forward to today. A2 is 5 1/2 months old. She is fussy and stays up until 3:30 am. She is hot and cranky the next day. She spikes a 101.7 fever.

A1’s fever went down with meds and spiked at night. This is what you expect. A2’s has continuously gone up and down until tonight. 101.7, 100.6, 102.5, 103.2. Yesterday, I gave in. I called After Hours, which is run through a larger hospital two hours south of here. They asked me questions. They told me to bring her in, just like A1. It’s Sunday, and the pediatricians’ office is closed. I had to take her to the ER. What fun.

Two years ago, when A1 was 17 days old, I fell off our old guest bed while holding her. I landed on my elbow, and she rolled to the ground. She was fine. I fractured my distal humerus and didn’t get a diagnosis for four hours. There is nothing like sitting in an ER with a broken arm and no pain meds or splint. I waited just as long with my infant.

The doctor eventually comes in. He is an older guy (well, 20-30 years older than me). He has a bushy mustache and accompanying goatee, salt-and-pepper gray to match the hair on his head. He has a friendly demeanor, and his bedside manner with A2. He checks her in the same manner as A1 was a few months ago. He said, “I’d check her for strep throat, but I’m 99-100% sure she doesn’t have it.” I bristled. I had a throat culture done when I was 12. It adds insult to injury when you already have a scratchy throat. I agreed with him. He ordered ibuprofen for her, which brought her fever down quickly (for the time being). I was given discharge papers and sent home.

What made me do a mental facepalm is the description of what she supposedly has: a “viral syndrome.” It also said “an upper respiratory infection, or UTI, also known as the common cold.” Thanks, guys. Thanks for making me feel even more stupid than I already did.

The purpose of my story is this: to help other new moms who need this information, and veteran moms who also need it, but haven’t had it.

Honestly, my pediatricians are great. I ask plenty of questions, and get concise answers. One thing I’ve noted, though, is that you need to ask, and know what to question. Whether you have kids, are expecting, or plan on it, here’s my advice for you before your next/first fever experience:

1. Throw everything you know about big kid fevers out the window. Not to be dismissive, but the “rules” (I use this term loosely) don’t apply here. 99 degrees is a low fever for us; however, it’s normal for infants and toddlers.

2. No two pieces of advice/sources are alike. It is confusing. The AAP tells you to bring a sick kid in. The pediatrician says it’s a virus that must run its course.

3. No outward symptoms? Probably a virus. Unless you see a rash, like roseola, or ear pulling/pus, like an ear infection, it’s likely to be an internal bug. Now, I’m not a doctor, so I will list my sources from research when I finish this post.

4. If an ER doc or ped tell you that it’s a virus or cold, keep your child comfortable, and check temps often. Administer Tylenol or ibuprofen, but select only one of these, unless otherwise specified by a physician.

5. 100.4, according to the AAP, CDC, and BabyCenter, is a fever in babies 0-3 months. SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY IN THIS CASE.

6. For babies 4 months+, 101-102 is considered a fever, according to BabyCenter. Administer Tylenol or ibuprofen. Be sure to check with the ped, or, if available, after hours care about the dosage. This is given by weight, not height, for those who are new to the journey of parenthood.

7. Feel free to ask other moms you trust for advice, as you are seeking here. I recommend it. Weigh out your options, then do what’s best for your child(ren).

8. I don’t care what anyone says—you are NEVER wrong for taking your child to the doctor if you think it is or could become a serious illness.



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