In the beginning of June my husband, our two youngest children and I traveled to the United Republic of Tanzania. Aka: my birth home. As expected before international travel, we each took appropriate vaccines and malaria tablets.
We were in Tanzania for five weeks, and within that time both children got sick. It began with the 3 year old getting a viral and bacterial infection. One night we noticed that her temples were a bit hot, and then the heat transferred to her palms and soles and they were hot! I had personally never experienced this nor had I ever come across any such symptoms while doing other research online. So needless to say, it was a bit scary.
When we took her to the doctor, lab results showed that she had a viral infection resulting in a rash all over her body, and a bacterial infection which was likely caused by fecal-oral transmitted bacteria.
Nasty. I know. We are parents, however, and if we aren’t writing posts about fecal-oral bacteria, then why are we really here? (smile)
She was prescribed antibiotics, calamine lotion, an antihistamine cream, and antihistamine syrup. After a week, she was all done with her antibotics, which she finished entirely, even after she felt better (I mention this in jest, but I also want to reinforce the importance of ensuring that our kids finish the antibiotics they are on). Her rash went away after a couple more days and that was that (or maybe not).
As soon as she was fine again, her 1.5 year old brother became ill. Coughing, sneezing, hot temples then hot palms and soles including a 102 degree fever in the middle of the night.
The following day we took him to a doctor and his lab results thankfully showed he had not viral infection, but did have a bacterial infection, also brought on by…. You guessed it: a fecal-oral transmitted bacteria.
He was also prescribed antibiotics and probiotics, and began healing quickly.
Fast forward two weeks, to our second last night in Tanzania. My son had a restless night. I thought it was because he wanted his daddy. He was calling ‘Daddy! Daddy!” in the middle of the night and showed no other signs of illness. The next day we walked to pick up my emergency passport (that’s a story for another day) and it was the dustiest 15-minute walk on which he has ever been. Think country road meets busy city road.
I walked as fast as I could, even jogged a bit, but alas, the damage was done. That night he had a runny nose that went from clear to yellow overnight. He has been sick ever since.
When we returned to the States I took him to his pediatrician’s office and explained what had happened. The pediatrician on call prescribed an anti-allergy medication. Five days later he was no better. We went back and his usual pediatrician said to increase the dosage of that medicine and alternate it with another antihistamine.
We added the use of a humidifier, eucalyptus oil, and baby Vicks on the back, chest and feet. We also got a really cool contraption that allows parents to suck the snot out of the baby’s nose through a filtered hose that keeps parents mouths clean. Yay!
Nothing was better. He had that same palm and soles fever for two nights. We took him to the doctor for the third time and I explained our travel and illnesses to a third pediatrician. I explained how both kids were still feeling sick, one with crazy congestion, the other with a persistent upset tummy – something she never used to have.
I am not in the medical field and words in my vocabulary like to take abrupt leave of absence (my husband says it’s because I speak multiple languages. I go with that reasoning!). So sometimes it feels that what I have gathered about my children’s health and what I think should be checked based on how they are feeling, is something that their pediatrician doesn’t quite get. Sometimes it feels as if they dismiss the possibility of something worse until it becomes that very thing; only then is it treated. Again, I am not in the medical field, so maybe there is nothing they can do until the reddened ears become infected ears, and the heavy congestion becomes wheezing… I don’t know.
This third visit proved more fruitful. This pediatrician seemed to actually listen and I also knew to be firm in what I wanted done for my children. He acknowledged the possibility of them being exposed to something overseas that requires special attention; something no one else acknowledged until then.
We are going for a follow up visit tomorrow, but it will also be a second visit for our 3 year old, as she is now showing many of the same symptoms as her brother , plus a couple of her own.
If there was a point (or two) to this post, it would be to please follow your instincts when it comes to your children, if in no other area.
Doctors are now considered to be in position of prestige, but that shouldn’t deter you from doing your research and stating exactly what you would like to see happen with your children. Don’t be afraid to be mom.
When traveling try your best to keep your children’s hands clean, and the dishes they use clean and dry.
What tips do you have when it comes to traveling with small children? Have your children gotten sick while overseas?
Do you feel that your pediatrician is interested in what you have to say? Do you feel that he or she is really listening to you?
This is an original post to World Moms Network by Sophia of ThinkSayBe. Photo credit to the author.
- My son and I the day after his premature birth.
My son was born 7 weeks early. He spent the first 78 days of his life living in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). A dozen nurses helped his father and I take care of him, watching him and feeding him when we weren’t able to be there. They taught us how to hold him, how to feed him, how to change his diaper. They showed us how to swaddle him when he was upset. When he accidentally ripped his nasogastric tube out a dozen times, they showed us how to replace it (though we never really did) so he would continue to receive the breast milk I spent hours each day pumping so he would have as many nutrients as possible. (more…)
Exclusive breastfeeding. Before I became a mother, I had never heard of it. I knew about breastfeeding, obviously, but not until I was seven months pregnant with my first child, did I learn it was possible to feed a baby only breastmilk for six months.
Most mothers I knew began complementary feeding with porridge and fruits around three months–which often coincided with their return to work after their 90-day maternity leave. Many mothers in rural areas offered their babies cow’s milk or porridge by two months. Certainly, almost all babies I knew were, by four months, happily indulging in fruits and porridge — regardless of whether they were breastfeeding, taking cow’s milk, or for the privileged few, drinking formula.
Could a child survive without even a drop of water? Impossible, I thought. Insane, actually. And even if it were possible, I imagined that the child would suffer from a nutritional deficiency of some sort. But, there was a mother and child on a television news program who appeared to prove me wrong.
I was confused as I listened to that mother and scrutinized her baby. He seemed to be the epitome of good health. He did not look famished or ‘deficient’ in any way. He was healthy to a fault. According to his mother, he hardly fell ill, not even with a common cold.
This mother encouraged new moms to breastfeed exclusively for six months. She was a career mother and had managed to do so. Interesting, I thought, especially because I knew I would be a working mother myself.
Included in the news segment were a peditrician and a nutritionist, both of whom affirmed that breastmilk only was best for baby for the first six months. They said breastmilk contained all the nutritional components needed for a baby’s growth for the first six months.
These people had to be kidding. Even professionals were in agreement with this woman?
I decided that additional research was necessary. I Googled and Googled and Googled some more. It was unanimous: breast milk is best. I began thinking that I would give it a try.
By the time my son arrived two months later in April 2011, I was sold. I exclusively breast fed him for six months, even after I returned to full-time work when he was three months old. I carried a breast pump to work, and expressed milk over my lunch hour. It was the first time my decade-old company had received a request for space to pump. The storeroom, filled with old newspapers, was the best they could offer me.
Suffice it to say that I also managed to exclusively breastfeed my second son, born in April, 2013.
The benefits of exclusive breastfeeding have been well worth it. My sons don’t fall ill often. We saved a significant amount of money because we didn’t have to buy formula, which I would have done if I had not succeeded in exclusively breastfeeding them both. Today, I use all channels within my disposal to campaign for exlusive breastfeeding because I believe it is the best start a mother can give her child.
Just the other day, I was happy to learn that the exclusive breastfeeding rates in Kenya have gone up from 32% six years ago to 61%. Meaning that I and all the other mothers I have managed to inspire through my blog and other advocacy campaigns are among the counted! Yaaaay! That has been the greatest news I have heard in a long while.
Higher rates of exclusive breastfeeding mean that more children get to survive their infancy, fall ill less often, and get to celebrate their first birthdays.
I believe that giving a child a healthy start to life through a good nutritional foundation is one of the best gifts you can offer your child. My sons appear to agree!
Is exclusive breastfeeding common where you live?
This is a post original to World Moms Blog by Maryanne Waweru Wanyama of Mummy Tales in Kenya. Photo credit to the author.
My daughter was sick last night. All over the futon, all over herself. It was certainly not something that I wanted to deal with in the middle of the night–especially knowing that there was no spare futon, and that I would end up sleeping on the hard floor.
I started off by giving her a shower, washing her hair, changing her pajamas. I’m at expert at this, after all. Due to a bout of RSV when she was three months old, my daughter has asthma. Her airways over react to any stimuli.
Coughing to the point of being sick used to happen daily, but it’s been over a year since the last episode. My daughter had forgotten about it, forgotten the routine. I had not. As I washed her up, she complained about how hard I was scrubbing, how these pajamas were too big, how the pillow was too hard.
When she was smaller, she used to only cry when I washed her.
It struck me how grown up she has become.
Recently, she was named group leader for her four-person group at school. (In Japan, it is very common for teachers to assign groups. They work together to distribute lunch and to clean up, as well as class work.) She takes this responsibility very seriously. Actually, a bit too seriously! She is stressed out about it. I can see how she is maturing and learning about what it means to be in change of others.
There are some things you can control, other things you cannot.
Later, after she was cleaned and changed, we both cuddled onto a futon meant for one. She rested her head in the crook of my arm and went to sleep, snoring softly. Such a big girl. Still such a little girl. So unaware of the joys and the trials that are awaiting her.
I rested my head on hers, encircling her in my longer, stronger, more experienced arms. While I still can, while she’ll still let me.
Please share moments when you feel how much your children have grown.
This is an original post by the author to World Moms Blog.
Photo credit: John Finn under a Flickr Creative Commons license.
My older son was born in 2003 and diagnosed with autism in 2007, when proponents of the vaccine/autism link were at their loudest. Since my son had displayed autism-like tendencies from birth, I never bought into this theory, and both he and his younger brother are up-to-date with their vaccines.
I find myself constantly having to defend my parenting choices where vaccinations are concerned. I get accused of not doing my research (I have), of supporting the interests of Big Pharma (I really have no feelings about Big Pharma one way or the other), and of pumping my children full of toxins (most of the ingredients in vaccines are present at higher doses in what we eat, drink and breathe).
The whole debate mystifies me a little, not only because of the overwhelming scientific evidence refuting the autism/vaccine link, but because there are those who believe that autism is such a bad thing that they are willing to force bleach enemas into their kids to “flush out the vaccines”. I hate to break it to you, but if you do that, your kid will be seriously ill, and he or she will still have autism.
A growing number of parents are basing their decisions not to vaccinate their children on myths instead of science. Some of these myths include the following:
1. Courts have confirmed the link between autism and the MMR vaccine. This myth is based on one Italian court case featuring a child who was diagnosed with autism a year after being vaccinated. The court found in favour of the child’s parents, and its ruling was based on a flawed, fraudulent report that has been discredited. And let’s face it, how much should we trust a court system that stated that a man cannot be convicted of rape if his victim was wearing jeans?
2. Vaccine shedding has resulted in more measles cases than unvaccinated kids. In one of the books in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy series, Douglas Adams likened the chances of something with the odds of dropping a ball bearing from a moving 747 and hitting an egg sandwich. The odds of vaccine shedding – the phenomenon of someone catching a disease from someone who has recently been given a live vaccine – are similar. There has been the one-in-a-gazillion case of the rubella portion of the MMR vaccine shedding into breast milk, and in over 55 million doses, there have been five reported cases of shedding in the Varicella chicken pox vaccine.
3. There is almost no autism in the Amish community, which does not vaccinate. Both parts of this statement are incorrect. Most Amish parents do vaccinate, and autism does exist in the Amish community, although at a lower rate than in the general population.
4. Diseases like measles and polio have been reduced not because of vaccines, but because of better living conditions. Substandard living conditions, including poor sanitation and lack of access to a safe water supply, exist in many poverty-stricken places in Africa. While some diseases, like bilharzia and cholera, spread very quickly in places like this, the incidence of measles and similar illnesses has dropped dramatically in places that have had vaccination programs.
5. People who vaccinate their kids have nothing to worry about. A common argument of those who choose not to vaccinate is, “If your kids are vaccinated, what are you so worried about?” That is true – I’m not too worried about my kids, whose shots are up to date. On the other hand, I am worried about the elderly person who lives in the same house as me. I worry about one of my loved ones, who is immune compromised because of the chemotherapy she is currently enduring. I worry about a friend’s two sons, who are transplant recipients and cannot receive vaccines. I worry about the pregnant women I know, and about the newborns who are too young to be vaccinated.
6. Measles, chicken pox and whooping cough are normal childhood illnesses. Anytime you put the words “normal” and “illness” into the same sentence, there is a problem. Illness, by its nature, is not normal. It’s a state of imbalance, of the body not functioning the way it’s supposed to. When these illnesses were common, it is true that many people got through them without serious consequences. But there were those who didn’t. There were the babies who died of pneumonia, the pregnant women who lost their babies, the kids who died of encephalitis, the people who suffered irreversible loss of sight.
7. The risk of vaccine injury means that no-one should vaccinate their kids. To play devil’s advocate for a moment, vaccine injury may exist. In a small percentage of the population, vaccines are alleged to cause serious illness and even death. But that is not the fault of the vaccine. It is simply a tragic result of the genetic makeup of some individuals. People who are at significant risk of vaccine injury have a very valid medical reason not to vaccinate – in fact, they are among the people we need to protect via herd immunity. But to say that no-one should vaccinate because of the few who are genuinely at risk is as ridiculous as saying that no-one should wear seatbelts because of the handful of people who have been harmed or killed by seatbelts in vehicle accidents.
When making the decision to vaccinate or not vaccinate, parents need to be driven more by the facts and less by emotion and media-generated fear.
Where do you stand on the vaccine debate? Do you believe that vaccines should be mandatory with an allowance for medical exemptions?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Kirsten Doyle (Running For Autism) of Toronto, Canada. Photo credit: PATH Global Health. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.