Maya came home from preschool sick one day. She developed a little fever that increased in the coming days to the point where she was running 105° while in the doctor’s office. Soon Michelle was sick, and a day or two later I became sick as well with a virus that had us all coughing and sniffling and tired. Zoe showed no signs of being sick during the length of our illness which lasted about a week with a peak of 2 days or so, but we kept myself and Maya away from her just to be safe. Michelle continued to breast feed as recommended, and eventually Zoe developed a little cough and some congestion.
In the days following her first signs of a sniffle, Zoe’s congestion worsened even as our illnesses passed without further incident, and soon she developed a small fever. This persisted for several more days, and in particular the fact that the fever did not go away began to put a strain on our sense of calm. We all assumed Zoe had simply caught whatever bug had put us all under for a few days, and likely she did. What we didn’t realize is that the bug could trigger something worse.
After a few days of fever, being only 2 months old our pediatrician Dr. A put us in the hospital. He could have waited a couple more days to reach the “must go to the hospital” stage of pediatric guidelines, but he didn’t feel comfortable waiting and for that we’re grateful. It turns out each day lost to disease progression without a diagnosis could have brought us closer to a dire outcome.
We went into the hospital Saturday March 6th. Michelle stayed with Zoe while they examined her and ran tests to determine the cause of her persistent fever. They suctioned out her congestion, which at the time was our greatest concern due to a really nasty little nasal cough. As parents we immediately go for a cure for the thing that makes her uncomfortable even as the doctors were completely focused on the underlying causes. Soon the cough had faded as either time or the antibiotics wore it down, and we were left with low oxygen levels and that fever. Without a clear diagnosis the tests began to come in, and each time another virus was eliminated as the cause there was a slight elevation of the tension among the doctors at the hospital.
Zoe had a spinal tap, and that eliminated a number of diseases or concerns. More blood tests, more eliminated causes. No virus. A virus quite quickly became our greatest hope, it’s amazing how rapidly a parent can begin to hope for their child to be sick with only a virus when the realities of more vicious maladies begin to set in.
At 11am on March 10th we had a visit from Dr. K and a number of the students who had been through on rounds already. Zoe had slowly developed a curious following in this teaching hospital as she continued to evade diagnosis. Dr. K had seen some additional results and felt a little more confidence that it was indeed a nasty unknown virus that was haunting Zoe. He indicated we might be able to leave that evening, or perhaps the following day depending on the fever. It was not to be.
Some hours later we learned that one of the blood tests had revealed extremely depleted Platelet count (16) however, and immediately everything changed. Within a few hours Dr K was back, and we learned just how much one result can overturn a feeling of confidence in the treatment team. The platelets scared them, and we would not be allowed to leave anytime soon.
Around 7pm that same day we had that fateful visit from Dr. M, and everything changed for our family.