RSV, You Nasty Witch

My apologies for being offline for so long. The past two weeks have been difficult, exhausting and downright scary, and it was necessary to take a brief hiatus.

Two weeks ago, I became very ill with what I thought was the flu. I had body aches, chills, fatigue, and was too weak to drive twenty-five minutes to my primary care physician, so I just decided to go to Patient First since it is located less than a mile from my house.  While I tested negative for the flu, the doctor said that he was (almost) certain that I had the flu, despite the negative test, and decided to treat me accordingly. Off I went out the door with my prescription for Tamiflu and nausea meds. 


I spent the entire week in bed! By day four, I started to feel better, but then developed a terrible cough. In our house, when one person gets sick, we take ALL precautions and quickly get into “sick mode” that includes: sanitizing all surfaces of the house, wear hospital-grade masks to prevent the spread of germs, quarantine the sick person, and washing all laundry on the hottest temperature setting (the “sanitize” button) on our washing machine.  The last thing we wanted was for this bug to spread to our two-year-old daughter. Having a sick parent is a bummer, but having a sick parent and a sick child is downright awful!

A couple of days later, by the weekend, we noticed that V started to have a runny nose and seemed a bit under the weather. She had moments when she seemed sick, but also had moments when she had a burst of energy. We had even taken her to the trampoline park with her cousins, and she seemed fine.  By the next day, things took a turn for the worst. We took V to the pediatrician, assuming that she had the flu, but surprisingly she tested negative for flu. The doctor dismissed it as a virus and told us to let it run its course.  As a mother, sometimes you get a feeling in your gut that tells you, despite what the doctor is saying, that something more serious is, in fact, wrong with your child.  That was the feeling I got, and I’m glad my gut didn’t fail me. V was in and out of sleep all morning after our visit to the doctor. She began breathing very heavy – almost panting like a dog – and her fever increased to 103 degrees. She has never had a fever that high, and it was then that my husband and I decided it was time to take her to the emergency room.

Once we arrived at the emergency room, my husband had to peel V out of her car seat. She was like a wet noodle – not able to move very much or carry her weight. Whenever I tried to get her attention, she’d open her eyes for a second, and then her eyes would roll back into her head and she would close them again.  Thankfully the ER wasn’t crowded and they escorted us to a private room.  The nurse took her temperature, and before I had a chance to see what it was, two nurses and the doctor on call quickly rushed into the room, surrounding V and started putting cold washcloths all over her. Puzzled, I said to my husband, “What happened? What was her temperature.” To which he replied, “It was 106! The nurse took it twice and it’s 106!” I could feel my stomach sink and fear set in.  V had a 106 fever and was in respiratory distress. The culprit? She tested positive for Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV. Over the next hour, the nurses connected her to an oxygen line and attempted to get an IV line in her hand, which was traumatic in and of itself! My sweet girl was screaming “Mommy! Mommy” while the two nurses were holding her down and continuously jabbing the needle into her hand looking for a vein. After several minutes of agony, I finally lost my cool and demanded that they stop.

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V was admitted to the hospital, and we spent the next four long days there. Multiple doctors and nurses were in and out of the room at all hours of the day and night due to shift changes. After each day, her symptoms were getting worse, not better, and the doctors decided to put her on “high flo” oxygen.  We knew that if this didn’t help, we’d have to be transferred to the top regional children’s hospital in our area, as they are better equipped to deal with these types of health complications.

There is no greater pain than seeing your child severely ill and suffering. While you trust the doctors to do what’s best for your child, you also feel a sense of helplessness, as your baby’s health is (somewhat) in their hands. While we were in the hospital, I began to think about the parents of children with chronic illness and fatal diseases and how difficult their journey must be. I tried not to allow myself to fall into the fear and sadness of our situation, and had faith that God would bring us out of this. And thankfully, He did!

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1st night hospital for rsv

V is now back at home and recovering. The process of easing back into home life has also been difficult. After being discharged from the hospital, V has had nightmares almost every night, and wakes up multiple times throughout the night due to coughing fits and vomiting. Before this situation, I had barely even heard of RSV. Had I known the symptoms, maybe we would have urged her pediatrician to test for it or maybe we would have taken her to the hospital sooner. The crazy part about it is we now believe that I probably had RSV, not the flu, and likely passed it to V. The symptoms are less severe in adults, but can be very serious in young children.  I’m sharing our personal experience in hopes that it can help other moms and dads who may go through the same thing.  Learn more about RSV and the symptoms here.

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And to the parents of young children who may be ill: please, please, please keep them at home when they are ill. This year’s flu and other viruses have been some of the worst strains to date, resulting in hospitalization and death. While our situation was horrible, it could have been much worse. We are so grateful our sweet V is on the mend.


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