grumpy baby

Last week was by far the hardest week we’ve had with our son. He inexplicably decided that he didn’t want to eat, sleep or behave like his normal sweet self at all. He started throwing tantrums, and our normally active family couldn’t leave the house without a full-blown meltdown. His babysitter watched him one morning and then suddenly had a host of reasons why she couldn’t make our next appointment, and a friend joked that he’d become possessed. It was an extreme change that couldn’t be blamed on the usual culprits: he wasn’t teething and he didn’t seem sick, other than the occasional slight fever.

What made this all even worse was the timing. A week before, the boy had his routine 15-month visit. I’m usually on top of the alternative, selective vaccination schedule that we’ve arranged for my son but this one appointment day, I had to work. I reminded my husband which shots our son was supposed to get, but he was coming off a double-shift and wasn’t paying attention. The nurses didn’t even read his chart before dosing my son up. When my husband reported back about it, I flipped a dang lid. Of course, when our son started acting like he’d lost his mind a week later, I jumped to the worst conclusions. What if he had encephalitis? What if the mercury levels gave him autism? I beat myself up for days, asking my mother-in-law (who happens to be a nurse) a hundred questions. She tried to reassure me, insisting that something else must be going on. Maybe his stomach was bothering him. Maybe he was having headaches.

After five days of this, we took him into the doctor. A cursory check-up showed nothing out of the ordinary. Finally, the doctor asked if my son had any rashes. I’d seen a minor rash around his collar line the day before, but I assumed that his shirt was bothering him. The doctor lifted his clothing up and, lo and behold, the boy was covered in little pimply spots. My husband and I were floored. “That was NOT there this morning.” The doctor nodded, relieved. “The rash comes on suddenly with Roseola.”

Roseola. We finally had a name for what turns out was a simple virus plaguing our son. It typically affects children under age 2 and can lead to high fevers, although those were mild in our son’s case. One of the only symptoms is extreme irritability for several days before the fever breaks and the kid gets a spotty rash. We were thankfully towards the end of the ordeal. A couple more days with the feverish, spotted monster and my son made a full recovery. Hell week was over and we returned to normalcy with a renewed appreciation for our sweet-tempered son.

Have you ever had a scare with an illness you couldn’t quickly identify?  How did your family deal with it?

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