Jackson has RSV. He started coughing over the weekend. No fever. He seemed to feel fine. It was just the cough. At first, I couldn’t even tell if it was a different cough from his regular attention-getting cough. Then it got wetter. Then it got more frequent. Then it sounded like it had moved down his chest some. Then he woke up this morning with a runny nose and low-grade fever, but he still seemed mostly in good spirits. Concerned about the RSV going around at day care, I called the pediatrician and she told me to bring him in. He gave her a good demonstration cough in the office and she said it sounded like he did indeed have RSV. She listened to his lungs and heard a little wheeze. His oxygen saturation was 96—not low, but they like for it to be 97 or higher. She gave him a nebulizer treatment in the office, which made the wheeze sound much better and got his O2 up to 97. She sent us home with a nebulizer and some albuterol. (This seemed like the big guns to me—Hudson had a similar crud a few different times, sounding much worse than Jackson, and they never gave us a nebulizer, only an inhaler and a spacer, with a little duck mask to put over her face. But I imagine this doctor, and maybe every doctor, will probably always be a little bit more aggressive when it comes to Jackson). The doctor said the RSV could get worse before it gets better.
I had been posting on Facebook about his symptoms since they started getting worse yesterday. As I waited for his albuterol prescription to be filled, I posted again: “Well, my little pumpkin does have RSV,” along with some more details.
And then it hit me. How horrifically familiar it all was. A child who seemed generally well except for some nagging symptoms that are pretty normal for a kid that age and not all that worrisome. A series of Facebook posts about progressively worsening symptoms and a trip to the ER, with a corresponding string of good wishes. And finally this at 10:24PM on May 10:
Hey, all- Well, Hudson definitely has bacterial meningitis. We’re settled in the PICU at Children’s for the night. We’re obviously frightened but hoping the antibiotics will do their thing quickly. Thanks for all the messages, thoughts, and prayers. Keep them coming. Love to everyone.
How almost nonchalant it sounded. How little we knew about what a terrifying illness bacterial meningitis was. How little we understood how very frightened we should be. How much I believed Hudson would be just fine.
Well, Hudson definitely has bacterial meningitis.
Well, my little pumpkin does have RSV.
I know that RSV is not meningitis. I know this. I know that in fact, it is so common that virtually every child gets it once before age two or three. Most kids only get a cold from it. Strep pneumo bacteria are that common, too, living in the nose and throats of just about everyone everyday. Most kids only get a cold from it. But I also know that RSV can get very, very bad. It’s rare for it to get that bad, of course, but so is an all-out, incredibly aggressive and ultimately fatal invasion of strep pneumo into the cerebrospinal fluid.
Apparently, I didn’t get Jackson out of day care soon enough. Another decision made just late enough to matter. All I’ve been able to think since we got home from the doctor is this:
If this child gets worse, I just don’t know what I’ll do.