My 3-Part Story Of My Son's Battle With Ear Infections (Part 1)
It’s 3 am, and my 2-yr-old son woke up again, crying with a fever while tugging his ear. This was just one of many sleepless nights after I started sending him to childcare. This happened to coincide with the time that I started a high-stress job. After speaking with many parents, I decided to share my story as I realized I wasn’t alone. I learned to deal with the misdiagnosis, antibiotic allergy and resistance, rejection of the second opinion, fear of getting an ear tube, and an emergency Rocephin injection to curtail his fever… and I’m sharing so you don’t have to.
About me: Seattle mom, Ph.D. in biomedical engineering who’s worked for 15 years in diagnostic technologies for the low resource settings as an R&D specialist, management consultant, and commercial operations lead. Affiliate assistant professor with the University of Washington. Currently Co-founder and CEO of Remmie Health.
The Unwanted Phone Call (part 1 of 3)
Ever since sending my 18-month-old boy to preschool while taking on this high-stress job at the same time, I’ve been dreading those calls from childcare in the middle of the workday. It’s usually harmless, “oh, he has bumped his head and we iced it, he seems fine, we are calling just in case you are worried”. But occasionally, it’s one of those “uh-oh” moment turning into an unexpected nightmare –
I got a message left on the phone during a work meeting, it sounds like he’s not feeling well and his teacher said I should go pick him up. Then another one 5 minutes later on my way there, he’s “not active” (whatever that means!) and running a fever. By the time I got there, I’d never forgotten this, he was in the front office in his teacher’s arms, his eyes closed. His whole body was burning like a fireball. I thought he essentially passed out.
I called his pediatrician, like always, they don’t have same-day appointments. I begged and was told to go in 1.5 hours for a 15-minute “squeezed-in” appointment. I went directly since it’s 5 minutes away, and sat there in the waiting room, in case they had something opening up before. I knew it would take even longer if I went to urgent care or the ER. That 1.5-hr felt like forever — he was too weak to move, in my arms the whole time, totally not my normal free-range chirping bird anymore.
They eventually let me in in an hour. The doctor said he’s got a bad ear infection, so bad that he needed a shot of the strongest antibiotic they could use on children his age. I was so surprised to hear about the ear infection. He was fine the day before, except a little cough, I thought it was a normal cold. I sent him in this morning even telling the teacher that he’s got a little something but no fever so he should be fine. I guess I’m less concerned about being a bad parent who is not even aware of what’s going on, but how on earth could an ear infection go this bad this fast. Only if I knew?
The antibiotic shot worked like magic. Within hours he felt back to himself, but we had an additional 10-day dose of amoxicillin prescription. In 3 days, he started having a rash all over his body. In 4 days, his fever came back. Should we continue through the course? We were back in the doctor’s office, it turned out, he was allergic to amoxicillin, and his infection wasn’t responding to it. We had to switch out the amoxicillin and get a different antibiotic. It was a Friday beyond working hours, so our usual pharmacy was closed. The closest 24-hr pharmacy was 10 miles away.
How convenient, just when we needed a drug today.