Pic of the day – Whooping Cough, Maybe

Back to the doctors! But not for me, this time. My son might have
whooping cough, a.k.a. pertussis.

Vaccines have been doing amazing things. Think of polio, right? That’s
always the big success story. DTP (for diptheria, tetanus, &
pertussis) has always been a little bit more challenging. There have
always been people who absolutely can’t tolerate the full course of
the vaccinations. Both my children are among them. This was not by
choice. We tried, for both of them, and both had horrible horrible
reactions with severe pain. It’s quite a story, but I’ll save that for
another day. The problem, tho, is that then they are not protected,
and the protection upon which they must depend is that those around
them are protected and “IT” won’t spread (whatever “IT” is).

Today, it is whooping cough, with over 300 new articles reported in
recent news media.

Google News: Whooping Cough:
http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=whooping+cough#q=whoo…+cough&hl=en&prmd=ivnb&source=univ&tbs=nws:1&tbo=u&ei=zHX5TIf2E4T6lwffy4DHBw&sa=X&oi=news_group&ct=title&resnum=5&ved=0CGYQqAIwBA&fp=31da31970bac2115

There are even many articles in my state, including one in my exact area.

New Cases of Whooping Cough Reported in Washtenaw County:
http://www.wxyz.com/dpp/news/region/washtenaw_county/new-cases-of-whooping-co…

This is no real surprise, since we recently received a notice from my
son’s school (not mentioned in the article) that someone there has
pertussis. These are sent per the Public Health Department anytime a
dangerous contagious illness is making the rounds. I did the mom-thing
— sent a note to my son’s doctor saying, “Look at this, please. He
isn’t immunized for this. What can we do?” And the doc said, “Not
much. Watch for these symptoms, and bring him in if they show up.”

Being mom, ahem, I am of course going to do more, anyway, just in
case. Watched his diet & sleep more than usual, made sure he carried
extra water, gave him ColdEeze a couple times a week to help protect
against *other* respiratory illness. I know, I know, ColdEeze only
protects against COLDS as in rhinovirus, and does nothing for
bacterial infections like pertussis. I figured it can’t hurt and might
help, so he was going to take them. Ah, well.

Here’s how it unfolded (briefly).

Tuesday: Niggling little cough, but he SWEARS he isn’t sick.
Wednesday: Comes home from school saying, “Where the pain meds?
My throat is killing me.”
Thursday: He’s in pain, can’t talk, coughing constantly,
sleeping more than he has since grade school, miserable. I’m trying
everything I can think of. ColdEeze. Doesn’t do a thing. That means it
isn’t a cold. Strep? No, no fever, or only very low grade. My
thermometer broke, so I can’t be sure. Pharyngitis? Maybe, hmmm. His
dad asks, “Do you think this could be that whooping cough stuff?” I
say, “No. No way. I know what the whooping cough cough sounds like,
and it isn’t this.”
Thursday night: He can’t sleep. He can’t stop coughing. I’m
giving him leftover Tessalon from last summer, and it isn’t seeming to
work very well at suppressing the cough. I give him Motrin. I give him
another Tessalon. I give him cough syrup. Finally he falls asleep at
1am. He is coughing again by 5am.
Friday: 5am, I give up trying to sleep and go looking whooping
cough online. Check the CDC.
I check MedlinePlus.
You know what? Whooping cough starts out looking like a cold. And that
distinctive cough does’t usually show up for 2 weeks, and sometimes
never in older teens and adults. Oh. Well, then, maybe. We’re going to
the doctor.

The doc decides since the kid with whooping cough at his school was
someone he knows, let’s go ahead and treat him, and test him. We’ll
find out his test results the day he finishes his antibiotics.
Meanwhile we are going to sit tight at home, and try to make him
comfortable. I’m glad we checked, doubly glad when the doc says that
when folks wait too long to come in the antibiotics can’t help them.
You have to come in in those first couple critical weeks, before the
bad cough starts and when most folk think it is a cold. To my
surprise, the doc says if the kid’s test comes back positive the rest
of the family will need to be treated. But, but, but, we were
vaccinated. We’ll be ok. Won’t we? Hmmm.

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