When The Sickness Won’t End :: Our Families Fight Against Pneumonia and the Month of May

We are a pretty healthy family. We rarely go to the doctor, we don’t take many medications and generally are health conscious people. But when over a one month period our three kids have had strep, two ear infections, a questionable rash and three cases of pneumonia, it’s hard to not question if we are doing something wrong.

We have been to the doctor no less than eight times in the last month, that’s not counting the three x-rays. That’s more than we usually visit in a year. By the end of May, I was beginning to have anxiety every time I had to make another appointment. My stomach would be in knots when I walked in the door, and I couldn’t even smile at the receptionist anymore no matter how hard I tried.

The dreaded month of May 

The month of May is never received with open arms. We are all trudging along and doing our best as we drown in end of the year projects, volunteer obligations, end of the year programs and parties in addition to our work and family life. But this May took the cake. We started with my 5-year-old getting sick. We went to doctor three times, had blood drawn and an x-ray before we figured out he had pneumonia. It took three antibiotics and two shots to get him well. Once he started feeling better, my oldest started acting strange mother’s day weekend. That evening she had a 103 fever and had a mysterious rash forming. I said no, pneumonia isn’t contagious! Well a doctor visit and x-ray later confirmed she had just that. When I received the call that she tested positive, I cried. Then when I told her, she cried and panicked because she knew how terrible the shots would be. It broke my heart to see her so upset. It was one of the moments where I just wanted to take all her pain away but I couldn’t. I basically had to say this was the only way to get better and she had to be strong.

How will we finish the school year?

My 4th grader missed seven days of school, seven at the end of the year! I was panicking; how would she make up all the work and tests? Somehow thanks to her amazing teachers and some serious studying, she made everything up the last three days of school but it was stressful. I can’t tell you how happy we were to see the last day of school. We were exhausted and ready for a vacation. Well life had other plans. The universe decided to really test us by giving my son, who had already had strep, an ear infection and pneumonia, a lovely virus with an ear infection again. I thought why? What am I doing wrong???

Burn down the house, there is no other way…..

I cleaned, I washed, I threw away. I was about to burn my house down and take my family with me. I cleaned and cleaned in hope of getting rid of these nasty germs that had taken over my home and family. The month of May was coming to a close, and we were ready to head to the beach. I thought this is exactly what we need. A relaxing weekend and some fresh salt air will help everyone get healthy and recharged … and then my middle child started coughing. The day we were set to leave she woke up with a fever. I immediately went to the doctor and she called for an x-ray. My anxiety was at an all time high. My own chest was tight as I paced and waited for the call. When the nurse called and said her lungs were clear, that it was a virus, I jumped for joy. I said “pack up the car, we are going to the beach!!!”

But as you probably already gathered, the universe with her sense of humor wasn’t finished. We only had four days at the beach and my daughter was in the condo for half of it. By the weekend, her fever was back and she had been coughing the most horrendous cough I’ve ever heard. We headed back to the doctor that Monday and big shocker, she also has pneumonia and a double ear infection. I am beginning to wonder if my children will ever be well at this point.

This has to be the end of the road and always trust your “Mommy gut”

So here we are. Three x-rays, blood work, four painful shots, countless breathing treatments and seven antibiotics later. If you know me, it makes me cringe to think of the amount of medication and radiation my babies have been exposed to. It has been a humbling and exhausting experience. I am not one to run to the doctor, and usually I let viruses run their course. But something in my Mommy gut told me to go. Every time they spiked a fever or started coughing again, I would go. This is one of those experiences I have learned from. The only way I was able to get through was telling myself that “this too shall pass.” My family and friends were a major support system and listened to my countless calls and texts. They were constantly reminding me that it’s okay to question, it’s okay to give them medication that is why we have it, and it’s okay to cry.

As heartbreaking it is to have a lengthy period of sick children, it is also humbling. As beaten and broken as I felt at some points, I also knew that it would end eventually, and we all would be free of this but there are some families who cannot say that. My mind couldn’t help thinking of mothers who watch their children go through pain and sickness their entire lives. I wished over and over that I could take my child’s place and take their pain and discomfort away. I cannot imagine how that feels on a daily basis for families with children who have a lifetime of sickness. Those parents must feel a pain that is indescribable.

During our struggles as mothers, know that most of the stuff will pass. There will always be hard times and struggles. But most, not all, will pass. The gassy baby, the teething toddler and the germ carrying school age children will someday be a memory. And you will know as I do that we can survive it and we will sleep again.

Now I ask of one thing: Please send me some positive healthy vibes that not only my children stay well, but that mommy doesn’t get sick next!

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