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The mysterious rash continues

I never thought I would write so often about ‘Timan’s health issues when I started this blog. But it seems like that’s what I’m doing every couple of weeks. Because it’s really bothering me and what parent wants to see the child suffering. Yuck.

In the first 2 1/2 years of his life the tot had no problem what so ever. Apart from a couple of throwing up incidents, which cleared within less than six hours, he didn’t have a single health problem, nothing, nada, nuet.

But starting about half a year ago it seems like we don’t get out of the sickness circle. First the stomach problems that ended with a ruptured appendix, two surgeries and a stay in UCI and now a mysterious rash that we can’t seem to get rid of.

‘Timan’ has this nasty itchy rash all over his body. It started early July and I thought it was a simple Prickly Heat Rash. But now I’m convinced it isn’t and actually never was. Another three weeks have passed since I fist wrote about it. We did three more visits to the Pediatrician and we are still dealing with it. And it actually has gotten worse.

Both times, about 2 days after the oral hydrocortisone stopped, the rash came back. Another treatment with stronger oral antibiotics followed, because by now the little one was diagnosed with a staph infection. But in spite of oral antihistamines he kept scratching himself bloody at night.

And every morning the tot wakes up with one or both eyes swollen. He was given oral hydrocortisone because the swelling didn’t go away but now his eyes look normal after one or two hours, but the itching persists.  The next thing is completely dry and itchy skin around the eyes, the excessive scratching and wiping is turning the whole area red and irritated.

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The pictures might not look too alarming, but the itching and pain the rash is causing must be very intense.

The whole situation is extremely frustrating, for ‘Timan’ maybe not so much as for me. I wake him up at night to take his 4th dose of antibiotics just to find him moving from one side to the other in his sleep and scratching his whole body. He’s taking oral antihistamine twice a day, I apply moisturizer in form of unscented petroleum jelly for sensitive baby skin numerous times a day and in the middle of the night and he still keeps scratching himself bloody, especially on the side of his thighs and behind his knees.

And the rash on the rest of his body doesn’t disappear anymore. So much I want to help my little son, but nothing seems to work. He is getting more and more restless, I feel his behaviour is changing too and I have to admit, I’m feeling I’m reaching my limit as well.

The Pediatrician, the only private one on the island, told me the next step would be looking for the reason in our house, the environment we are living in. But still, she doesn’t want to label his rash as an Atopic Dermatitis, as of yet. Which is good I guess.

My gut feeling is that it was (and still is) caused by an allergic reaction.

We need to find the cause for ‘Timan’s allergy and this is not an easy task, especially here in Paradise. There are no patch tests available here and there is no dermatologist in the country either.

I wrote about my suspicion before and now I’m almost 100% convinced that all this is caused by our tap water. The water in the two storage lakes on the island is getting less and less and the water quality worse by the minute. The PUC (Public Utilities Corporation, responsable for the water treatment) has changed or increased the chemicals. Whatever chemicals they are using, Chlorine, Chloramine or something else (nobody can tell me for sure), they are the culprits that are causing the rash. Sometimes I have the feeling I’m itching too, caused by the water or by my imagination, I don’t know.

Nevertheless I’m also considering a food allergy even tough I hardly believe it is. The only thing I can think of adding to ‘Timan’s diet in the last two or three month is olive oil.

But anyway, a couple of days ago I took him off milk, cheese, yoghurt, foods with flavor enhancers (E635 and such) and olive oil.

However the most important change was using bottled water for everything. For ‘Timan’ to drink, cook food he’s eating, brush his teeth, wash his hands and take his bath. But how do I get the chemicals out of the laundry? And we keep hoping ‘Timan’s skin is going to take a turn for the better. But when?

Did you ever have such an itchy rash all over the body or eczema caused by chemicals in the tap water (e.g. Chlorine or Chloramine)? How and after what time did the symptoms clear?


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Do you want to know what happened later? Find out here:

The mysterious rash – did we get rid of the eczema? (part 1)‘ – January 6, 2012

and read how we got rash and eczema under control without steroids:

The mysterious rash –  did we get rid of the eczema? (part 2)‘ – January 9, 2012

Every person is reacting differently, it’s a matter of finding out what works for you. Good luck. 🙂

The mysterious rash

The nice time of the year, you may call it ‘summer’ and others call it northeast monsoon, is over and the next season, the southwest monsoon has begun, strong and cold winds are coming from the south. That’s ‘winter’ here in Paradise. Temperatures drop to 29C/85F and it’s supposed to be dry. Well, it is kind of dry and because it doesn’t rain enough we might run into a severe water shortage soon. But nevertheless the air is filled with humidity and feels hot, hotter than during the ‘summer’-time.

Because of all this ‘Timan’ developed a Prickly Heat Rash and I treated it accordingly. But the rash behind his knees got worse, got infected because the tot was scratching, and one Saturday morning it looked really bad. So I sent my two men to our local clinic’s ‘casualties’ to get a treatment. They came back with an oral antihistamine (allergex elixir, ‘Timan’ refused to take it because it’s deep red, like blood according to him) and a cream for fungal infections (Clotrimazole). I was using Clotrimazole a couple of times when ‘Timan’ had a diaper rash and it used to work pretty good.

Not this time with Prickly Heat though. My poor tot kept scratching behind his knees, the pimples got bigger and spread over this leg. The following Friday we went to our private Pediatrician, it’s the only way to get a decent diagnosis and reasonably effective medicine. Of course you have to pay for it, and of course we are more than willing to pay.

One important thing I learned about our Paradise is, that if you have a choice, do not use the public health system. In those local clinics you have to wait for hours, get to talk to a doctor who probably knows less than you for not more than 5 minutes, get no explanation you might understand (not because you don’t have enough brain cells, but because you don’t understand what he’s telling you very fast with his Indian accent) and if you have to come back for a second treatment, you will not talk to the same doctor again. Everything is free of charge, also the medicines, and therefore they are not the best, but the cheapest on the market. Oh, I forgot to tell you, sometimes they run out of them as well. But it’s the only place you get a medical treatment during the weekend.

‘Timan’s pediatrician, the one who sent him to the hospital because of his stomach problems, treated his rash with oral antibiotics, topical antibiotics, an ointment with a low hydrocortisone content mixed with calamine and some tincture to dry out the prickly heat part. And advised me to come back by next Thursday if the rash is still there.

After the weekend I also noticed little pimples on his belly, the small of his back, his knees and ankles, his elbows and his cheeks. So I started to give him an oatmeal bath 4 times a day and I had the impression it was  improving a little bit. But after the course of antibiotics and creams the tot’s face still looked like this:

His legs improved a lot but still looked like this:

Yesterday we went to see the doctor again and she started treating the rash with more Steroids, definitely not my first choice of treatment. But it’s getting better, a big relieve. Now the tot is taking 4 oral medications (Predine, Cetirizine, Polariamine, something to soothe his gassy tummy caused by the antibiotics), his Vitamins and I’m still applying the Hydrocortisone/Calamine cream.

The more I thought about it and researched on the internet, the more ‘Timan’s mysterious rash looked like an Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis to me. But what was the trigger?

There were no changes in our life, nothing, except the water in the two reservoirs on the island is getting less and less every day. And the little it rains doesn’t make a difference.

Could the tap water have triggered ‘Timan’s rash? Maybe the local PUC changed the chemicals to treat the water. And again I went online to find out more. Maybe they changed Chlorine to Chloramine (both of them are toxic and can cause skin rashes) and failed to inform the public I missed the public announcement in creole because ‘Timan’ was babbling into my ear during the evening news?  I tried to find out, but didn’t get an answer on the phone.

I still hope it was not the water and just the change in humidity. Because I have enough of the water problems in the past. (But that’s going to be the subject for another post).

How are you treating Heat Rash so it doesn’t turn into a secondary infection with a toddler/preschooler? Do you have experience with preventing and treating Eczema without the use of Corticosteroid Creams?

Linked up with ‘Sunday Funday’ by Adventures in Mommyhood, hop over and link up your favorite post of the week:

‘Timan’s ruptured appendix with complications (emergency operation, surgery 2)

Continuation from ‘Timan’s ruptured appendix with complications (surgery 1)

8th of March:

My little son has spent the night moving from one side to the other, but otherwise without incident.  In the morning he wanted instant noodles again (for breakfast), and the sick ones are allowed to eat what they feel like whenever possible, aren’t they? He was drinking but he still did not wet his diapers. I told the nurse. They also took his drain out and in the bag was not much liquid. The male nurse on duty kept asking me about the state of his diapers and I kept telling him every hour or so. Still nothing around lunchtime and I was badly worried at this time and kept asking for the surgeon.

‘Timan’ has been drinking more than 1/2 liter but did not pass any urine since 5pm the day before. What goes in has to come out or something is badly wrong. The male nurse called the surgeon but the doctor played down the problem, 1/2 liter was not much liquid. Maybe not for an adult but for a toddler it’s a lot especially when no urine is being passed for a period of over 18 hr.

The nurse kept insisting ‘but doctor, doctor, listen …’ for several minutes until the surgeon ordered some tests to evaluate what was wrong. Looking back he probably saved ‘Timan’s live with this persistence. The urologist was called and an ultra sound performed. There was the full bladder visible and something more, but very diffuse. We rushed back to the ward, ‘Timan’ was given a sedative to put him to sleep, no reaction, double dose, no reaction. We went for the CT scan nevertheless and I managed to calm him down so it could be performed.

And back to the ward to put a catheter. When the surgeon tried to extract the urine by first squirting some saline liquid into the bladder, he felt a strong resistance, but suddenly it passed inside. Then he extracted 230 ml brown urine. Back for another ultrasound and I was told the final diagnose: ‘Timan’ was suspected to have a collection in his abdominal cavity.

The emergency surgery was scheduled to start immediately and lasted for more than 2 1/2 hours. 150 ml collection of liquid from his appendix wound on the colon was removed and the whole abdominal cavity was cleaned out. A difficult, dangerous and live threatening surgery for everyone, even more for a Toddler.

After the operation I inquired for the reason for it. Apparently a blood clot had blocked the drain of his ruptured appendix surgery and prevented the liquid to drain from the wound inside his abdomen. This collection became more and more and an inflammation developed inside his stomach cavity.

My little one was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit. He was more or less stable.

I’m not able to tell you the things going through my head during the operation and the first hours in ICU. But the only chance we have had, was putting our trust in the operating team that was trying to safe ‘Timan’s life.

9th of March:

The artificial respiratory unit was removed the morning after the operation but he stayed in ICU  for another day.

10th of March/11th of March

Back in the pediatric ward ‘Timan’ was given the ’emergency room’, a room where he was able to stay on his own and under close supervision.

12th march

He was taken off the machines and the drain from the wound was removed. And there was a blood clot inside, about 6 inch long. I was terrified when I saw this. The same complication could have easily happened again.

‘Timan’ got better and better from day-to-day. I think he recovered faster because we were able to move into one of the single rooms. And finally he was discharged from hospital on the 16th of March.

I hope this is not going to stay in his memory forever, maybe only the things we will tell him when he’s asking about his scars. And they are large for the size of his little body, a horizontal scar of  2 1/2 inch and a vertical scar of 4 inch starting 1 inch slightly towards the right above his belly button, running down towards his groin.

But what the hospital personnel did not tell me and I found out later was if this condition was not caught in time our little son would have died.

And I keep asking myself, are we talking here about a doctors error or negligence? Or is this just one of these complications that can happen after a difficult operation?

During the last couple of days I was finally able to search online and found horrible descriptions of complications occurred after a ruptured appendix surgery.

In the end I think we were most lucky still having our little son with us. He’s a tough little guy but somebody was watching over him.

Another thing I learned from this: Do trust your own gut feelings as a mother/father more than ever even when people try to appease.

Life goes on. This time my son is going to be all right. I know so.

‘Timan’s ruptured appendix with complications (surgery 1)

No parent wants his child to be sick and not really getting better but at one point you might realize it’s actually happening and there is not much you can do about it but trust the medical professionals. That’s what has happened to our family. These last months February and March 2011 were the worst months in Hubs’ and my live, by far, and certainly in ‘Timan’s young live.

These recent events were also the reason I did not write any posts or used the computer at all. But let me start from the beginning, how all begun:

‘Timan’ was sick with stomach problems off and on during the whole month of February and I already wrote about his belly pain, his focus on his belly and that something else there isn’t quite right. After the antibiotic course he finished towards the end of February he was doing really great and we all thought he’s cured and well again … until the late evening of March 2, when the pain came back with full force.

After a joyful day spent with Hubs who was off and eating lots of tasty food he was suffering again. We thought he simply had too much to eat but in the early morning hours, after a more or less restless night, I knew it was not the food, this was going to be really bad.

3rd of March:

I started to examine his lower tummy, first slightly pressed under his belly button than moving to the right and even though he said ‘no pain, mommy, no, no’ I saw his face twitching. When I applied the slight pressure on the left side, no reaction at all. At that point it was all clear to me. I woke up Hubs, made ‘Timan’ ready, called the doctor’s office, luckily they were open already and off we went.

This time the pediatrician came to the same result, suspected appendicitis, we left for the main hospital and asked for the surgeon on call. And we had to wait, and wait, and finally around lunchtime he got examined, his blood was taken for tests and his abdomen checked with ultra sound, the results were diffuse so ‘Timan’ got admitted to the pediatric ward for a 24hr monitoring.

4th of March:

The next morning, the main surgeon examined his stomach and set the operation for 12 noon (unfortunately another doctor had allowed ‘Timan’ to eat some breakfast early morning).

I was carrying him to the operating theater, we entered the main door (it does not look too reassuring, I can tell you, worse on the inside).

It was dark inside and a dark man in green with a cover over nose and mouth took ‘Timan’ away. I was not allowed to go any further and I heard his frantic screaming ‘Mommy, Mommy stay, Mommy, Mommy’ for several minutes as I made my way out to the waiting area, until it stopped. And my tears began to flow.

I told myself ‘hang in there, it’s just a minor operation, that’s been done thousands of times, he’s going to have 2 or 3 little marks and all will be over within half an hour. Just relax, all will be good.’

And time passed … 1/2 hour … 1 hour … Hubs got a break from work and joined me … 1 1/2 hours. I thought ‘don’t worry, it takes time for the anesthesia to work properly, to operate and to wake up. And more time passed … 2 hours … 2 1/2 hours … and finally a doctor came and told us that the operation is going to be finished, they were stitching now. But it has been a difficult surgery … after another 45 minutes the surgeon came and told us that ‘Timan’ is stable and slowly waking up. The appendix had been clogged by mucus and tissue and was perforated at the base. They had to clean out a big part around it. I was allowed to the recovering area and after a short while ‘Timan’ was brought back to the ward.

5th of March:

‘Timan’ was slowly recovering, but did not say much or move around much, he just lay in his bed and looked around. Maybe because of the paracetamol he was constantly given, to keep pain and fever in check.

6th of March:

‘Timan’ was allowed to drink clear liquid. The nurse emptied the drain bag full of blood tinted liquid from the wound inside his abdomen. But this night, around 2am he had a sudden fever peak of 40C (104F) after his temperature slowly has been going down, back to almost normal. But in the ward was a viral fever going around, I started to feel some symptoms and ‘Timan’ had a runny nose and was coughing, so I did not feel very worried about he sudden high fever, and apparently so didn’t the nurse.

7th of March:

‘Timan’ was allowed to eat soft food but did not feel like eating anything. But I got him to drink water and juice diluted with water and around 5pm I changed his last wet diaper. In the evening he wanted to eat instant noodles and I was happy he finally started eating.

I felt more relaxed, even tough the pediatric ward was overfull. In our room were 5 kids with 5 mothers and the room was 7m x 7m max. There were two beds in the ward’s main hallway and the only two single rooms were taken already.

Since ‘Timan’ is so young, just slightly older than 2 1/2 years, I know it’s difficult to diagnose appendicitis. Because I had to take him to the doctor so many times this February because of his stomach problems, I think he did not tell me all the time when he was in pain, because he knew I would take him to see the pediatrician again.

Could or should I have done something different? Maybe reacting earlier, so it would have been an easy appendix removal? Would it have been different if we were living in Europe? Or should I have listened to my gut feeling and insisted on thoroughly checking him through when we went to the doctor during his former stomach episodes? Was it a kind of rumbling appendix all this time? These thoughts kept coming and I will never know.

Did you already have a similar experience concerning a late or almost too late correct diagnose ? Please tell me about it.

But now ‘Timan’s ruptured appendix was taken out, he was still on strong antibiotic medicine administered by IV to fight bacteria and fungus and from now on it can only get better, so I thought. … (to be continued)

Something is ‘cooking’ …

Oh dear, we are not off the hook yet.

‘Timan’s temper tantrums were coming more and more often, were louder and louder, the meals were consumed in smaller and smaller quantities, and at the same time he was getting more and more clingy by the day, hour or even minute.

There is something cooking.

And it’s something else than the stomach flu we thought ‘Timan’ had.

Off to the pediatrician we went, for round number two.

What a day. And it’s not over yet, I fear for worse.

Today we had:

Lack of cooperation to deliver a peepee in a jar, lack of cooperation to eat breakfast, lack of cooperation during the examination at the pediatrician, lack of cooperation swallowing the medicine, lack of cooperation during the time spent in town, full cooperation on the way home, full cooperation during lunch (because really hungry by now), full cooperation to go for a nap, what’s next?

Oh, I know, until dinnertime we are staying in the ‘full cooperation’ mood, but when the time for the medicines (plural!) comes, we are switching to the ‘lack of cooperation’ mood in the flick of a second.

And this is going to be the way we will spend the next seven days, three times a day.  I really fear for the worst because I know ‘Timan’. The doctor told me this morning that I have to think positive, need to take a positive attitude towards the medicine drinking and ‘Timan’ is going to drink it without a hitch.

Dear Doc, this may work for you, your kids, but not for ‘Timan’. I’ve tried it in the past, and every time we’re back in this situation I try it again, but the outcome stays always the same.  You saw and heard it at your office today, didn’t you?

A big ‘thank you’ to whoever invented the medicine  syringe and the few leg/arm/hand maneuver to prevent ‘Timan’ from kicking, arm wrestling and closing his mouth and another big ‘thanks’ to my ex-vet, who taught me how to administer my cat a medicine while preventing her to spit it out (works not only for cats but for babies and toddlers alike).

Or are there other ways to get ‘Timan’ to drink his medicine of his own will, ways I don’t know of?  Ladies and gents, your suggestions would be very much appreciated and I thank you so much.

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