Thursday, February 15, 2007

Wonders of modern medicine

You want to know how many different drugs my children are getting at the moment? Three proton pump inhibitors - a different one for each - to block acid production in their stomachs in response to acute gastritis attacks, probably caused by a nasty stomach bug that's going around; two antibiotics - a different one for each of two of them - for strep and an ear infection possibly caused by strep (I assiduously avoid giving antibiotics for ear infections without great cause - but in this case, the older brother with strep is cause enough); two pain relievers, alternating around the clock, for fever reduction and pain management (I normally only medicate fevers if the child is really uncomfortable, figuring that a fever serves a purpose - but in this case, rest trumps allowing body temp to rise for whatever purpose); and one antihistimine being used as a sedative (on doctors' advice! I swear it!) until a couple of nights ago to help one of them sleep around the gastritis; and one narcotic, given in the hospital to two of them over the last two weeks whose gastritis was severe enough to warrant (I'd say require) hospitalization.

Five, count 'em, five trips to the ER. So far five visits to our regular doctor's office. One meltdown by my dear husband addressed to said doctor's office, to the effect that the county hospital is apparently now our primary caregiver and what the bleepity-bleep is our doc doing for us besides rubber-stamping what the ER and peds docs are saying? Four strep cultures and a flu culture. Untold urine and blood samples. One (ugh) stool sample (that was a fun one). A chest X-ray, a belly X-ray, a CAT scan, an ultrasound. More lousy hospital food than I care to remember, none of which was for me, so why should I complain? Five full nights and about seven days in the hospital, plus two (I think) more partial nights. One overnight babysitting issue, precipitated by a five-day business trip by my better (or at least 'other' - the jury was definitely out during the business trip) half. One nor'easter, just to add variety and excitement to our regular (far too regular) route to the ER.

All of this is out of order and minimizes the strenuously resisted panic that's been at the top of my emotional spectrum for the past seventeen days; at the moment, with everyone well medicated and apparently recovering, it all just seems banal. Thank God for the art and science of medicine, and the efficient yet compassionate care of the nurses and docs who have been taking care of us. My title was in no way ironic: while none of what has ailed my kids has been life-threatening (probably - or not too life-threatening anyway), it's been far, far easier to cope because of the tools, therapies, and knowledge of which we've been the beneficiaries.

I was, and am, a fan of minimalism, preventative medicine, medicinal herbs, and providing support to the body while it does the heavy lifting. But the naturopathic options for my child sobbing "Help me... help me..." as he arched, writhed, and twisted in agony just didn't seem all that... compelling somehow. I still advocate doing as little as possible to mess up body chemistry and function - but bring on the morphine, baby, when it's needed: that's what it's for.


Ann said...

Wow, you've been going through a rough time.

One 'natural' approach that may help is probiotics (acidophilus, bifidobacteria, etc.). It's always a good idea to take these after taking antibiotics, and there is some indication that it may help with some types of gastritis, and it strengthens the immune system.

You can buy probiotic supplements, but that can be tricky (they have to still be alive to help). Probably the easiest approach is yogurt with live cultures. Stonyfield is the best established, but more and more 'live' yogurts are in the stores now.

I hope your trips to the ER are over!

Jamie said...

Yes indeed, it's part of my M.O. after antibiotics: I want to get my children's (or my) good bugs back into production. Yogurt is an early-reintroduction food for us.