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speaking of sick kids... [updated]

Weird that I chose today to post the thing below.

I'm having major concerns about Nat. I know I said I wasn't going to post about the kids anymore, but I'm looking for some kind of help/advice here. We are going to the doctor, but her appointment isn't until tomorrow and I'm starting to become really concerned.

First, she has strep throat right now. This is about the fifth time this school year she has had something that caused her to miss more than one day of school. I think her downward decline, health wise, started when she had mono last year. She hasn't been completely healthy since.

These are the symptoms she feels on an almost daily basis, as transcribed to me: Dizzy, feels like she is going to pass out, shortness of breath (even when not doing anything) constant headaches, stomach aches - just weird - tired, lack of appetite. It's the weird thing that bothers me. She says she can't describe it, she just doesn't feel right.

Before you ask, there is absolutely nothing going on in school that would make her fake symptoms to stay home. She has a lot of friends, her grades are good, no problems with teachers or any other students. In fact, her latest bout of these symptoms - and the worst yet - occurred this past weekend and over two days of the winter vacation. Besides, I can see that her physical symptoms are real. Her face is flushed, her eyes are glassy sometimes. She also gets very tired during the day, but has trouble sleeping at night.

I'm worried about her appetite - she's not a girl who could afford to lose any weight. Also, she's a vegetarian. I don't think this has any affect on her medically, though - she eats a lot of fish, vegetables, fruit, etc. - when she's eating. Which she isn't, the past few days.

Taken one by one, all of these things seem harmless, like typical teenage complaints. But put them all together and I'm gettting a bit alarmed, especially since she has spent much of the past two days crying about how much she hates feeling like this all the time, especially when she can't find the words to describe how bad she feels inside. (Phsyically, that's not a mental thing). And all she wants to do this morning is take some aspirin and crawl back into bed and I'm shoving her out the door because she missed so much school already this year.

Anyhow, I'm not going to spend my time looking up symptoms on Google, because I'll end up in a panic, thinking she has some rare tropical disease that she got from an errant spider that made its way here from some island. You know how that goes.

She was tested for anemia just a few weeks ago and that came back negative. I just want to go into the doctor's office able to say something concrete, without saying "oh, she's complaining all the time about various things" which sounds like a hypochondriac thing.

Ok, rambling, not making much sense. But I'm sending her off to school crying yet again, and I don't know what to tell her because I don't know what's wrong with her, only that it seems like there's a lot wrong with her.

So I'm looking either for some quickie medical advice (Is it possible for the mono virus to mutate into something else?) so I can go into the doctor's office armed with more than just a mother's concern, or just someone to say calm the fuck down, she''ll be fine.

[Update: and now that I'm looking up the symptoms (against my better jugment) I'm thinking she might have mono again. I thought that was one of those things you only get once]

And: I'm not a panic mode person when it comes to my kids being sick. I'm more of the "suck it up, you'll be fine" kind of person. So it's unusual for me to be this freaked out about her being sick.

And my sister thinks Nat has mercury poisoning because she eats tuna every single day. Thanks, Lisa! Those symptoms sure look....familiar!

(Ok, I know it's not mercury poisoning..though...you never know...)

Update: So I just NOW remember that on Friday night Nat complained of a pain in her side/abdomen and I told her it was from moshing at the local band thing even though she insisted she wasn't moshing because she didn't feel good. So now I'm thinking "enlarged, swollen spleen" (consistent with mono) and how I blew her off. Bad, mommy. BAD.

Dr. appt at 1:45, specifically asked for my favorite Dr. of the bunch, who will more likely than not order all the tests I ask him to. Yea, even the ones for diabetes, Lyme Disease and mad cow disease.

Kidding about the cow.

Comments

I have a couple of ideas:

1) Have you tried supplementing with B Complex - in addition to a multivitamin? B vitamins get drained down when long-term ill, but most doctors aren't aware of that. Try a small amount (or a tiny, and I mean, tiny amount of brewers' yeast dissolved in citrus juice). If she gets gassy cramps, that's a sign that she is SERIOUSLY deficient. Don't quit taking, just back off on the dose for a week. Vegetarians are particularly vulnerable to B deficiencies.

2) Hang in there. She may need some re-build time to get her strength up to speed. She shouldn't try to keep up with everything, she needs some recuperative time. Maybe a nap in the pm.

3) Don't go all out on tests. Get the basic ones, but realize that it's very common to get odd results to batteries of tests, and that can land you with a mis-diagnosis that causes more problems than it's worth.

4) Reassure her that you take this seriously. She IS sick, and it DOES feel like crap to have a long-term illness. Sometimes you feel as though you will always feel like this - probably not. Either the health will improve, or she will find coping skills and strategies until it does.

Good luck.

I don't know but you shouldn't have to diagnose your own kid BEFORE going to the doctor. He should be able to figure it out based on those symptoms. Mono can sometimes though have long lasting effects and I have heard of it still affecting people years later.
Hope she gets better and the doc can figure it out. Make them run full tests to ease your mind. Full blood and urine draws, that kind of stuff. Run the gambit of tests to rule out everything.

Linda and I totally disagree with the test thing. Sorry. But all those symptoms followed by her "weird" symptom, would make me want full tests. She needs to try and describe that feeling to the doctor as best she can.
Feeling off and weird is usually a sign of something.
With me, that feeling of weirdness and feeling dizzy, was a sign of diabetes. I never knew I had it but once I was able to describe how I felt, they were able to narrow down the tests to do and it turns out, mild diabetes.

Mono can knock you on your ass for months, if not years. I agree that a full spectrum of tests should be done. If your doctor so much as mentions "emotional anxiety" or some other crap that means he thinks it's all in her head, get her to another MD pronto. Make sure they check her thyroid levels too. A wonky thyroid can cause all the symptoms you describe; illnesses can knock that out of whack.

I'd start with Andrea's suggestion on the thyroid. All of the symptoms tend to point to her thyroid running a little to fast or slow.

Ditto the thyroid check and mono relapse.

Yup, that's exactly what I was going to say, a mono relapse.

Echoing the suggestion of mono - was going to suggest that as soon as I read the symptoms.

If your doc can't come up with a diagnosis, maybe you can ask her school to put her on independent study for awhile until you find one that can - that way she won't miss out on her assignments and can get the rest she needs.

I don't remember how long you said long she was out of school the first time around. My oldest son contracted mono when he was six, believe it nor not - from the older brother of one of his friends (the brother helped serve food, etc at a birthday party). He was out of school for six weeks and our district policy was that for any absence longer than two weeks, the school put the student on independent study and sent a teacher to the house once a week to go over his work with him. Find out what your district's policy is for long-term absences and push your rights on getting the services you need.

I had mono back in 1999 (at age 22) and every once in a while I still feel the effects of it. Once you get mono, you've basically got it for good; it just goes dormant after the initial illness. So a blood test to confirm whether she's got it again will do no good - it will always come out positive. However, you can develop a full-blown case of it again, although it was thought previously that you couldn't.

Now it could be because I was older when I had it, but my energy didn't come back fully until last year. She may very well bounce back quicker. Taking a multi-vitamin and a time-release B-Complex tablet will help (you flush out B, so no worries about overdosing on it).

Also, and this is a little-known fact it seems - mono can spawn depression. Although it is usually temporary as it is illness-based, it's very common especially with females. Just don't let a doctor throw an anti-depressant at you if she's never needed one before, it can actually make things worse. It just takes time, lots and lots of rest, and like Linda said, knowing that people are taking her seriously when she says how bad she feels (which it seems you are). That was one of the things that bothered me the most, people telling me "you're fine, it's all in your head".

Sorry for rambling on when I hardly even comment here... heh. I just feel for her because I definitely know what it's like. Honestly, it's one of only two times being sick actually scared me. Good luck!

I agree with all of the above. My oldest had mono, and complained about not feeling well for about 3 years. Balanced B complex (I believe it was 50 mg) and Vitamin C helped her through it.

Hope she feels better soon.

Elizabeth
Imperial Keeper

FYI - when Brandon first was sick, the docs didn't even think of mono because he was so young...they were in the process of verifying Hodgkin's when they discovered it was mono. So I understand how severe the symptoms are, and how ill Nat must feel.

I do remember that his spleen was enlarged - that might be something for the docs to check for that will demonstrate what it is once and for all, and show how sick she is feeling.

I concur with all the other people who said that mono takes a long, long time to recover fully from. She may still be suffering aftereffects. (Still, it sucks. It sucks to be sick and feel "not right" for that long).

Another thing, and not to alarm you, but there are some chronic-fatigue-type conditions that can result after a bout of mono. I don't know much about them (other than having a friend who swears she developed it after a bout of mono) but that might be a possibility.

I think the "full battery of tests" (if insurance/finances can cover it) is a good idea. It might be something treatable like a thyroid problem or a secondary infection or something.

When was the mono originally? Summer? Off the cuff shoot for Lyme disease - may mimic mono and a long term linger. As for teenage girl freshman/sophmore - my daughter was tired listless for awhile. They assumed depression - why I dont know why but they had her on anti-d for awhile. Either way - good luck.

I am inclined to think that tuna every day isn't the best diet plan (if nothing else, there are other fish in cans!) but I doubt that that's the problem (metal leaching from the cans seems unlikely.)

Mono relapse, thyroid, juv diabetes, ... and a bunch of other possibles, some minor (b6/b12 difficency), some major. Being ill can lead to depression, period.

Hugs and sympathy for both of you; I'll prescribe chicken soup, with ice cream sundays after the doctor visit.

Thyroid problems are very common, often not diagnosed for a long time (especially for women) and it's amazing the change that can happen just from taking a tiny little pill every day to balance it out...

In spite of all your many, many, many, many, many flaws, you're a good mom.

Michele, I had mono at 25, and I got sick easily for the next few years. I got strep and bronchitis a lot, and my migraines got worse. The glands in my throat also stayed fairly inflamed for awhile after mono.

I'd echo the advice to have the doctor run a thyroid test, as well as a blood test to see if the mono has returned. Your description of how Nat feels is not unlike how I felt w/ mono, and I spent a lot of time crying about how sick and exhausted I felt -- it's emotionally draining to be ill long-term. Poor Nat.

I think everyone's offered some good suggestions. My first thought (before I finished reading) was mono - or a B vitamin deficiency. I was a vegetarian for about 9 years and I always took a B complex supplement just to make sure I got what I needed, since the B vits are water soluble and not "stored" in the body like other vitamins.
The suggestion to check her thyroid is a good one too. Those three should definitely be checked.

many, many, many, many, many flaws..

Being a Yankee fan counts that much against me?

Thanks everyone for the great advice. I at least know what to ask about when I get into the office (though the Dr. is, to his credit, very attentive and a good listener and would ask me a million questions anyhow).

I'm kind of worried about the symptoms of diabetes I just looked up, so I'll ask about that, too. Right now it looks like a mono relapse to me, coupled with a very tired immune system that's allowing her to get sick so often.

I wouldn't worry about the tuna. Levels of mercury in seafood aren't THAT high, and a lot of bodybuilders eat a lot more tuna per day than a teenage girl would without coming down with mercury poisoning.

Otherwise, ditto to what a lot of other commenters have said- it mostly sounds like she never really got over the mono.

My cousin is a vegetarian and she was sick for a long time until they figured out she just wasn't getting enough folic acid in her diet. Unfortunately I don't know what vitamin that is but maybe this helps.

I hope she feels better soon.

If you have a primary care doctor you know and trust well, that's wonderful. It doesn't sound like he'll dismiss her symptoms or not take them seriously.

A mono rebound sounds most likely to me so far. The symptoms don't fit hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) that closely, and just as I was looking up hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), Medline's server went down--but from what I can recall of it off the top of my head, they don't fit that either. Nonetheless, if the doctor's concerned about it he can run a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) blood test on her to check.

You can drive yourself nuts with it, but the Medline encyclopedia's a pretty good resource. It's put out by the National Institutes of Health and is here:

Medline

(Oh, good, and it's back up. Definitely doubt hypothyroidism.)

Good luck. Hope she feels better soon.

Because you asked for it...

Calm the fuck down, she'll be fine!

Call the doctor back and be a SheDevil and demand she be seen. If they refuse tell them you want to talk to the Doctor ASAP preferably on his lunch hour. That if you do not hear from him by 2pm you are going to go see him yourself.

Generally speaking once you get a doctor on the phone they have a hard time refusing to see you. The staff is hired to be the bad guy. Most doctors do not like to say no. When they do they start seeing $$ and thinking about their malpractice policy limits.Simple fact is, doctors always have work in appointments and it is flu season they are expecting to work extra hours.

The dizziness can be caused from an ear infection. They often come hand in hand with strep. Plus, strep is a bitch to get rid of. My girls have had it 4 times since august when school started. The fact is you know your daughter, if your mom radar is going off, then you are right. You seem to be a fairly strong minded woman and I would be willing to bet you could either exhaust or intimidate the person on the phone into at least getting a callback from the doctor.

Strep is tenacious and sometimes just doesn't want to go away. You do not want it to go into Rheumatic Fever though that is not likely but you could use that phrase to really freak out the secretary at the doctors office.

i guess I am suggesting verbal intimidation of the office staff.

Uh...I never said the Dr. wouldn't see me. I said I already had an appt and, in fact, they moved it from tomorrow to today to accomdate my worry. I LOVE my kids' doctors and their office staff.

When I was a sophomore in college I developed symptoms very similar to what you're describing. After many doctor's visits and many tests (which ruled out mono and everything else) the doctor finally concluded that I had hepatitis. I wasn't jaundiced and the hep didn't show up on tests but the doctor, by process of elimination, concluded that was what I had. (And no, it was not the form of hepatitis that's usually transmitted by needles or the exchange of bodily fluids). Fortunately, this was near the end of the semester so I was able to spend a few weeks at home just resting and getting my strength back. It took a while but I was fine and have suffered no long-term ill effects. You might want to ask about a hepatitis test.

My daughter had mono the first semester of college. The first doctor she saw treated her for strep while they were waiting for the culture to come back.

A day later the conditions were so severe that I called her regular doctor at home. He hospitalized her for 4 days.

It took her almost 4 months to feel halfway human, her doctor told me it could be a year for a full recovery and it was fairly common to relapse within that period.

It really knocked her immune system for a loop. That was 4 1/2 years ago and she still gets everything that passes by, for twice as long as most other people.

Hang in there Natalie (and Mom too)

It looks like you've got plenty of good advice, but figured I'd offer one other idea. Have you ever had Natalie tested for allergies?

I'd have to ask my mom (a nurse), but if I remember right, Mono is a virus that has some medium-range impact on the immune system, thus making the patient suceptible to more colds, viruses, etc. for a while... a year or so, if I remember right.

again, this is all guesswork and a keyboard, since I have neither the time, nor the inclination to look it up.

She's on drugs! All she wanted was a pepsi... just one pepsi, and you wouldn't give it to her.

Seriously, I hope she gets well soon.

oh yea... and watch out for the longer-term "epstein-bar syndrome" (I think it's called, that's why it's in quotes - also, I haven't the slightest idea how to spell it), which is basically reoccuring mono. That's a super-simplified explaination, but basically, it's the virus that causes mono taking up permanent residence.

As far as the strep is concerned, is there someone in the house who is a carrier for strep? My brother in law had bout after bout of strep and they couldn't figure out how he was getting it. Turns out his son is a carrier---he never gets strep, but he can spread it around. I realize strep spreads like wildfire around schools, but it might help to know if someone in the house is a carrier to cut down on how much Nat is exposed to it. Might be a drop in the bucket, but it might be worth a shot because her immune system is deteriorated.

I hate to mention Chinese medicine, because so many people think it's bunk (and believe me I used to be one of them), but almost ten years ago, my husband ruptured his spleen when he was snowboarding. The surgeon managed to save the spleen in surgery, but his immune system was weakened terribly afterwards. It was like he was starting from scratch: on average, he'd get sick at least once a week, which was really odd because he never got sick before he ruptured his spleen. Before the accident, he had been a sometimes-practitioner of Tai Chi, but afterwards he became very interested in Chi Kung, which is a sort of concentrated Tai Chi that helps to develop energy. He sent me out when he was still in the hospital to buy every book I could find on the subject. He read up on it and put it to work for himself. The results were amazing. The Chi Kung helped him to not only get his breathing back to normal about two weeks after the surgery (which is a big deal when they work on your internal organs) but it helped him to heal up quickly. It also helped him to strengthen his immune system so that he could fight off the colds he kept catching. A year before he'd had surgery for a hernia. It took him longer to recover from the hernia surgery (which was outpatient) than from the spleen surgery, which was ten times worse. The difference was the Chi Kung. I could barely believe it, but it worked. These exercises could help Nat to regain her energy and could help her to feel better.

The husband learned Chi Kung from a book written by Master Wong Kiew Kit, who's an honest-to-God Shaolin monk. He started off with "The Art of Chi Kung: Making the Most of Your Vital Energy." It's a good primer.

Good luck with everything and I hope Nat feels better.

Nothing to add to the mostly excellent advice you've already received. Just wanted to say I hope it works out well and she's
a) correctly diagnosed
b) gets better

I went almost a month before getting the mono diagnosis. And I saw 2 doctors who told me allergies. That was before I saw my REAL doctor who ordered the blood tests that made the correct diagnosis. You can get mono more than once. You can have it for quite some time and not know it. I would put money on that.

Most everything above sounds about right -- just want to add to the suggestion of 'chronic-fatigue-like' things the specific case of fibromyalgia (which is one of those fun things you got to when every other test fails to find anything - this one is speaking from personal experience on that; I got sent to a neurologist as a last resort meself to get that diagnosis...)

I had a crazy case of mono in the last year. I first caught it over the summer of my senior year in high school, in June 2004, and got over it fine.

Later in the summer, though, I started feeling "weird". Its really the only way to describe it, basically I felt like shit, and sometimes it seemed like my vision was off. My arm felt funny and I wasn't able to balance at all.

Because my the arm that would feel weird was the left one, I got sent to a cardiologist, where they found I had an irregular heartbeat.

The doctors started to believe me about the other symptoms and soon I was checked for just about everything from Lyme disease to cancer, and they never found anything. The only piece of bloodwork they found interesting was that my white blood count never went up, even when I had a very high fever.

I learned from a doctor who specialized in immunology in December, after I was feeling better, who hypothized that I was part of a group of people who cannot fight off mono easily. Its a genetic thing where the immune system, instead of just killing the virus that causes mono, sends out tons of anti-bodies that don't kill the mono.

Overall, don't be too worried. Get your daughter to the doctors and rule out anything really dangerous and try to make her as comfortable as possible. Try to get her involved in figuring out what is wrong with her. The worse thing about being sick like this is not the sense that you have lost control. It really helps to look around and regain some sense of control. Although, its important not to get scared by looking into some scary possibilities. Good luck!

No advice to add, but I'll just remind you that the odds are greatly in favor of it not being anything really serious. I'll keep my fingers crossed...

By the way I want to disagree with the person above who said that depression caused by mono shouldn't be treated with antidepressants because they can "make things worse".

On the one hand antidepressants don't always help and even if you REALLY need one, you might find that the first 3 you tried didn't work for you... But if you need something you need something.

I had some severe problems after getting mono as a teen, but you know there's no specicific reverse-the-effects-of-mono pill so you'll have to make due with the medicines that do exist.

I am a 38yr old male who got mono during the summer of 2003. My doctor said it came from CMV. I tested negative for EBV and she being an infectious disease specialist said it was from CMV. I had the swollen glands, fever, night sweats, bad muscle pain and joint pain, headaches and some fatigue. I didn't have the kind of fatigue that most folks get with Mono from EBV. I was not bed ridden for months. I would though get fatigued when I exerted myself. If I would exercise the symptoms would get worse for about 2 weeks and then gradually get better. I was doing this see-sawing of symptoms for 8 months. The glands in my neck stayed swollen the entire time as well as my tonsils. I then suddenly got better and all symptoms went away. That was February 2004. In June of 2004 I started running a low grade fever and had muscle pain and joint pain. After a week or so it went away. It came back again in Sept 2004 and then went away then came back in Dec of 2004 and I have been dealing with on and off low grade fevers, muscle pain and joint pain and sore throats. Here it is March 5th and I still feel crappy. I am wondering if I will ever feel better. The doctor swears that CMV cannot reactivate! I have been to see her several times over the past few months and she cannot figure out what is wrong with me. It makes me feel better knowing there are others out there that are still having problems after Mono. I will be coming up on 2yrs of dealing with this come July. One odd thing that developed with my mono that has not gone away is sweat that now is always above my upper lip...call it moustache sweat. It can be cold outside and I will still have beads of sweat break out on my upper lip. She says the virus may have changed my body chemistry...hmmm...thanks for reading...would enjoy anyones comments.

My son has been home for 2 weeks now with flu/chest infection and now mono. He describes EXACTLY the same symptoms as the daughter mentioned. He keeps saying he feels weird and can describe it. Definately not depressed but lays on couch ALL day. Cheeks are flushed and zero energy.

OOPS- meant to say that he CAN'T describe it. He also has the glassy eyes and dizziness when he gets up. He still has an appetite though. Can't imagine this lasting so long. I thought he'd be ready for tryouts in 2 weeks!!