Sunday, September 16, 2012

Getting Closer...

Spring 2012

As early spring began to emerge it became more apparent that there was in fact a pattern to the recurrence and reprieve of J's symptoms. His issues seemed to hibernate with the cold weather and reappear when it was warm. It made me think of my daughter's seasonal eczema or the seasonal allergies and asthma J also suffered from.

However at this point all of my children were taking a daily dose of Claritin, but even in combination with Benadryl it seemed to do little to ease J's symptoms. This was my main hesitation in believing his problems were purely allergy related.

Word about J was beginning to spread. We were constantly trying to explain what was going on although we didn't really know ourselves. He looked absolutely terrible half the time. I felt the harsh looks of judgmental strangers when we were in public places... I found myself voluntarily explaining to the cashier, bank teller or other random person what was going on. My unspoken message quite simply being "I DO NOT ABUSE MY CHILDREN!!!"  I knew I would probably be wondering the same things about the child in front of me had I been the stranger standing in line waiting to check out. My own sisters were the first to point out that once the sores started scabbing over they looked just like cigarette burns.  Yes, I know... good thing neither my husband or I smoked.

Everyone had an opinion. Some we had already considered ourselves but several were new ideas.  Someone suggested his mattress might be infested with bed bugs.  We promptly purchased a new mattress for his bed and tossed the old one in a dumpster.  People mentioned chiggers, sand fleas, mites and other bugs that could be outside in our unfinished backyard. Maybe he was having reactions to the nasty weeds, bushes or other plants that were seasonal bloomers.  Grass was one of the few things J actually tested positive for on his allergy screen. On a whim we decided to return all the grass seed, fertilizer and soil we had purchased to landscape the backyard.  Although it blew our backyard budget completely out of the water... my husband decided to purchase and install a good quality artificial turf.  We reasoned it would save on water and maintenance in the long run and most of all we hoped it would have a positive impact on J by decreasing allergens.

We hired an exterminator to come out and pre-treat the soil to kill any little buggers that might be living there.  My husband dug out all the shrubs, bushes and dead tree stumps.  It took a few weeks and a lot of work but we ended up with a beautiful (and mostly maintenance free) backyard.  The first few days the kids played out back were great and J had no problems at all. Then we experienced our first rainstorm of the Monsoon season.  

We let the kids play outside in the rain since it was not lightening and they had a blast. They were disappointed the next morning because the rain had stopped, but they hurried outside to play anyway.  The heat and humidity had little effect on them.  I had to force them to come in and take breaks to cool off and re-hydrate.  I first noticed how bad the mosquitoes were later that afternoon when I called the kids in for dinner.  After dinner all three were complaining about and itching mosquito bites they had gotten on their feet, legs and arms.  I treated all of them with anti-itch ointment and sent them on their merry way.  The older two had no further complaint but by bedtime J's little feet were beginning to look like this...

and he was miserable!  His feet were beginning to swell and the bites were turning into the big, hot, red welts we were so familiar with... MOSQUITO BITES!?!?!  I immediately went to check the bites on the other two kids and they looked exactly the same if not better than they had earlier.  Why were J's bites doing this?  I knew they were mosquito bites because it'd just rained and I'd actually seen the mosquitoes... plus my other two kiddos were bit.  I was very confused... if it was an allergy to mosquitoes why didn't the Benadryl or other allergy medications help?  Could it really have been mosquitoes causing the problem all along?  That would mean there had to be times when he was the only one in the family being bit and how could that be right?  How does one person end up with five or six bites when nobody else get any?  I still had a million questions but I knew in my gut I had finally discovered the missing piece of the puzzle... and that gave me hope.

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