Hello Korio
27. 02. 2017

Let me tell you about some bullshit.

If you’ve been reading for a while, you probably remember that Penelope was hospitalized a few months after she was born and blah blah blah, a kidney thing. A year or so later, she ended up having surgery to resolve the defect. However, during that year in between, we had to be on ridiculously vigilant watch for UTIs. Not that all parents shouldn’t keep an eye out for UTIs. But the structure of her body made it so that the infected urine from the bladder would be able to travel backward – something that should not and does not usually happen – to her kidneys and damage them before we’d know what was happening. We actually don’t know the extent of kidney damage she might have suffered from the first incident, but that’s something for future Kelly to worry about. Anyway, any fever over 100 degrees – even if she was clearly otherwise ill – required an immediate trip to the emergency room for her to be catheterized to get a urine sample, just to make sure. Fortunately, we only had to do that twice.

After her surgery, I think it was another year or so of watching, though the fever threshold got raised to 101. And then after that, a couple last tests and she was released from her urologist’s care entirely. Of course we still have to watch for UTIs, because UTIs are no good, but no more than any other parent. A UTI is no longer an emergency. Still, you also remember the kidney lady?

Okay, if you don’t, this is a story. I got a UTI, and I knew I had a UTI, but it kind of went away? I don’t know, I was stupid. I thought it was gone, but it wasn’t. It went underground for a few days, and then I was sick. I was so sick. I was so sick that when Phil and I decided to get married, one of the things I made him promise me was that as a married lady, he’d never let me sleep with my own puke bucket, because I was so sick all I could do was lean over and throw up and I couldn’t even remove my bucket from the bed. Like almost 105 fever, thought for certain I was going to die kind of sick. Anyway, it was a kidney infection, because of course that UTI didn’t just go away, you absolute walnut (me, not you). I got some crazy antibiotics and it took a while, but eventually I got better. And it took a long time for me to tell this one particular story about that incident, because it was embarrassing, so it took me a while to be able to tell it in such a way that it was kind of funny (but it was not actually funny). On my first day back to work after being sick, the medicine was still messing up my stomach pretty badly, and I was stuck in traffic at the 270 split in Maryland, and I had to get out of my car to throw up, and I only made it as far as the hood of the car before I leaned over to puke so hard I wet my pants. And I was still STUCK IN TRAFFIC, so I then had to get back in my car with all the same cars who were right there the WHOLE TIME all around me.

So I tell this story, and one of the comments I get is something like, “Hey, be glad you can even wet your pants. Some of us would love to wet our pants, but we don’t even have functioning kidneys.”

And. I just.

So if you see someone bellowing at someone else in my general circle of interaction on Twitter, “AT LEAST YOU HAVE KIDNEYS,” that is why that happens.

Oh, wait, here you go – I forgot for a minute the other site still exists and I can just take things from it whenever I want.

Needless to say, even though Penelope is cleared by her surgeon to not worry about UTIs as much, we still take them very seriously in this house. So when she was up and down every 10 minutes all night long to use the bathroom on Friday night, frustrated that she wasn’t actually peeing, and saying when she did pee that it was hot and “shocked” her, we knew we’d be going to urgent care first thing Saturday because no, we are not messing around with that shit. I mean, her kidneys may possibly be damaged, but at least she HAS some, and I have be soundly scolded by a random stranger on the Internet for taking that for granted one time when I was telling what was actually a really kind of sad story.

I will spare you the details about trying to get a urine sample out of a five year old who can only pee a drop at a time but wants to attempt it every seven minutes.

We go into the exam room, we go over her history with the VUR, the surgery, etc. Kind of irrelevant but also relevant, because you never know. We go over the symptoms – classic UTI stuff, minus any kind of fever, but then, when she was first hospitalized with a kidney infection as an infant, we had no idea what was going on, because she had no fever. It was kind of her UTI MO. So the doctor checks her out, basic exam, looks everywhere.

“I think she’s got strep.”

The fuck you say?

The doctor even had me look down Penny’s throat to see her tonsils, enormous and red and angry. She said it definitely looked like strep. But but but. No sore throat, I said. No fever. No nothing. Just the UTI. The doctor said, well, strep’s been a little weird this year. I’ll do a rapid test.

She does, and takes the test out of the room, telling us it will be five minutes, and the door swings RIGHT back open, and she shows it to me, explaining the clear positive that came up in like, 30 seconds. STREP.

Okay, I’m thinking, she’s got a UTI and we also found out she’s coming down with strep, coincidentally. NOPE. Zero sign of infection in her urine sample. NOTHING. She only has strep.

What, may I ask, the fuck?

And the doctor tells us, strep has been weird this year. They’ve had an epidemic not just of strep, but WEIRD strep. A kid came in with knee pain, walked out with a diagnosis of strep. Back pain, strep. Three people had been in THAT WEEK with UTI-like symptoms, no UTI, but a positive strep test. Penelope got one of their last two rapid strep tests. There’s no more left in the county at the moment. Five day courses of antibiotics haven’t been treating this well, so she was prescribed a 10 day course, and the pharmacy could only give us enough to get us through until today, because they were totally out. (They’ll get more today.)

I guess a lot of the cases the doctor was talking about could be coincidence. Maybe a kid did hurt his knee, and while there, they discovered strep. But three others with UTI symptoms and no UTI? And she also told us that in a ton of the cases they were finding, they were like Penelope – no fever, no sore throat, no signs of strep at all until you look down at the tonsils and then, hey, there you go.

So how many kids did Penelope take down with her, since she was in school all last week, since SHE WASN’T SICK as far as we knew? How many kids are walking around with this stealthy strep right now, passing it around and around, with no earthly idea it’s happening?

Having a kid is hard for a lot of reasons, because you know nothing and everything changes all the time, but you’re supposed to be able to COUNT ON STREP. Annoying, painful, yes. Basic childhood illness? Also yes. It sucks, it turns around within a couple of doses of antibiotics, and it’s a generally predictable and standard part of childhood.


In conclusion, this goddamn giraffe better make with a giant giraffe baby already.

9 responses to “I thought I could count on you.”

  1. Kristina says:

    YESSSSSS. Whenever my son gets strep he gets weird shit, like his ears hurt but no ear infection. Or his stomach hurts but no flu. Idk. Kids (and germs) suck and are hard. Meanwhile, as I type this my throat is on fire but I’m sure when I go to get tested today it will most definitely NOT be positive for strep.

  2. Kara says:

    My middle kid had a strep rash this winter, but not Scarlet Fever. Something that looked more like chicken pox, but only on the top half of her body. No other sypmtoms.

  3. LeighTX says:

    . . . at least she HAS tonsils.

    Sorry, couldn’t help it. The last two times I’ve taken my kid into urgent care CERTAIN she had strep–no strep, just a cold with sore throat, waste of $40 copay. But if I DON’T take her, thinking she’ll get over it soon, it will for sure turn into something worse and then I feel like the worst parent ever. Kids, man.

  4. Rachel says:

    Yup – mine was a rash. No sore throat, a little run down, but mostly just a rash on her face.

  5. Phancy says:

    Everyone in my house had strep last year, but not one right after the other like normal. No, it just drug out all spring. My 6 year old was puking–took her in and strep! Spouse went in for something, can’t remember, and the drugs didn’t work, then they figured out it was strep, but those antibiotics didn’t work, and I will spare you the the gross details but it was gross. And then I got it and it totally didn’t feel normal. (And I’m queen of strep, I’ve had it probably 20 times). I mean yeah, strep’s gone rogue.

  6. Tayna says:

    Once I got strep. A week later, my then 5 year old was trying to button a shirt and complained that his finger hurt. Take a look and it’s infected around the cuticle, like he pulled a hang nail, but it’s more swollen than usual. It’s enough to make us think it should be lanced. Mind you, NO other symptoms. Take him in, they lance it and that’s it. We go home. 2 days later they call and say they tested the stuff they got out of his finger and guess what….strep. Never had symptoms. Never had a sore throat. His throat wasn’t even red. Kid got strep throat in his thumb.

    Strep is crazy. Just crazy!

  7. Lisa says:

    Sick kid stuff is the worst. I am still traumatized by my 2 year old’s raging double ear infection that presented itself with NO SYMPTOMS but could have permanently damaged his hearing if I hadn’t coincidentally had a well check scheduled and the doctor discovered it. Felt like a GREAT mother that day!
    Also, I had VUR surgery when I was an infant to correct what sounds like Penny’s exact issue and I’m 40 now and completely healthy and my kidneys are fine. I tell you this to give you some reassurance that Penny might not ever have any problems again, either

  8. Amy says:

    On this past December 15th I had an 8 year old, a 10 year old, and a 5 day old. I tooknow the older 2 in for what I was SURE was strep. And it was! And also my 10 year old left without her appendix.

  9. Swistle says:

    Oh my god strep. Strep is the worst. Here is the trouble I have had with it, which is that I keep encountering doctors at the opposite end of the spectrum from the doctor you saw: doctors who say “No sore throat? Not strep.” When we have been passing strep around at my house, and the child has a 104 fever and is barfing, and the last time this child had a 104 fever with barfing it was strep, and her brother just had strep and then drooled on her food. Like, I KNOW it’s not typical presentation, but CAN WE PLEASE CHECK?

    I think you have known me long enough to know that I am not the ASSERTIVE type. Furthermore, I am eager not to be mistaken for a parent who thinks she knows better than a doctor, or a parent who demands unnecessary tests. But EVEN I have had to say, “Would you please indulge my maternal fears and do the strep test?” Doctor: sighs, does strep test. OH IT IS IN FACT STREP.

    Strep is the worst. It is the sneakiest and worst.

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