Google images may have saved Morgan’s life. He’s on his way home from the hospital now (it’s Sunday morning). WARNING: graphic photos below.
Let’s just get me out of the way here: I am a basket case. Between Ryan’s mass and surgery, Mango’s being lost and found and my mother’s intense disapproval and blame, and now Morgan’s weekend emergency hospitalization because he developed a heart-stoppingly dangerous infection, the last 30 days have been quite a ride. If anything bad happens to Hal, I might just leave his body on the road in Escazú and hope someone else helps him. I’m helped out. The only positive is I think I lost a couple more pounds from stress. I’d rather have the fat.
Wednesday night, Mo complained of a pain in his eye. He spent all day Thursday in bed, still had the pain but not too badly, it seemed. And no swelling, no visible problem. We figured it was a stye. And he’d been up all night the weekend before playing a video game (they can make that dumb choice if they want to one weekend night), so we figured he was catching up sleep.
Thursday night, the eye started to swell a bit, he was feverish and threw up several times. I went to geezer gig rehearsal thinking the worst was over. His fever was better and he was eating. Two long time expats there suggested spider bite which seemed reasonable. But by the time I got home, his eye was pretty ugly and he was feverish again. I started searching online, starting with “spider bites Costa Rica.” Nothing seemed to fit: spiders either kill you or you get a little swelling. And Costa Rica doesn’t have any really aggressive spiders, particularly at 4000 feet where we live.
So I changed tactics, searching “eye pain eyelid swelling” and, about an hour later, ended up here: orbital cellulitis. That scared the life out of me, so badly my knees started knocking. I was shaking, teeth chatteringly terrified. I woke up Hal and told him I thought this was pretty serious. He said we’d take Mo to the doctor in the morning.
Which reminds me: how come these things never happen during doctor’s hours?
I go back to the computer and type in orbital cellulitis in google images. I see people whose eyes look just like Mo’s and I totally freak out. I wake up Hal again, he’s sensible again. I go back and look at Mo again. It’s 3am. I ignore Hal and take Mo to CIMA’s emergency room.
Not to blame Hal at all. He’s the intellectual, putting
two and two together. A) He’s not looking on the internet and getting
scared to death and, B) he knows he’s married to an overly dramatic wish-she’d-been-a-doctor hysteric. Fortunately.
The CIMA doctor on-duty is very nice but, in the end, he was too much like Hal and not enough like me. After a blood test and a CAT scan ($435 for everything but the drugs – such a deal), he said Mo had a serious sinus infection (which was news) that had moved to his eyelids. A course of regular antibiotics would take care of it. He sent us home with $100 worth of drugs. It’s 6am.
Three hours later, the swelling is a tad worse and Mo’s still in serious pain. We go back to CIMA. The doctor now on duty looks at the CAT scan and says Mo needs to be hospitalized immediately with IV antibiotics. This is what the internet said everywhere I looked and what I believed should happen. We hysterics don’t mess around. Mo was not at the orbital cellulitis stage, but he was well on the way. The stage after O.C. is bacterial meningitis the thought of which had me shaking again. The only way to stop this infection in its tracks is with IV antibiotics. Nothing less would do and there just weren’t days to waste trying to figure that out.
Still, I freaked. All I could think of was my friend who had been in this hospital and picked up a serious infection. And I didn’t know any doctors there. So we called Dr. Arce, Ryan’s otorrinolaringologo [oh-toe-REEN (and you gotta do the trill with the rrs there)-oh-lah-reen-HO-lo-go, I think… means ear, nose, throat person]. When I told the CIMA doctor I was taking Mo to see Dr. Arce, his eyes got very big, he looked very impressed and humbled actually! Dr. Arce is the man. He put Mo in Clinica Bíblica immediately hooked up to a steady stream of IV antibiotics.
Neither Hal or I put our faith in traditional medicine. It’s a fact that more people die of medical treatment than from anything else. More people get infections in a hospital than anywhere else. But at some point, as a parent, you shut down and you need an expert and you have to put your trust somewhere else because you just don’t have the depth of information necessary to make a smart informed decision. We had to turn it over. Thank God for the internet and for placing Dr. Arce in our path. If you are going to go with traditional medicine, you want someone with experience who is not an hysteric and not hungry for surgery. We got him.
As we were preparing for the trip to see Dr. Arce, Ryan delighted in telling Mo about the scoping he was going to get. Nice, huh? But I’m thinking how odd it is that both boys have serious sinus infections requiring life-changing treatment IN A SINGLE MONTH. I don’t have the answer, but factors under consideration are:
- The rainy season which by all accounts is nearly as bad as last year’s which was the worst anyone remembers in many, many years. My angel pharmacist, Leah, says if you could see the air in Costa Rica during the rainy season, it would be a cloud of organisms. So much crap is pulled up from the ground during the pounding relentless rains, it floats around. Unseen and breath-able.
- Speaking of crap, Mo weed-whacked the grass last week. With three dogs, you can imagine there’s a bit of doggie do laying around. When whacking, you occasionally hit a doggie do land mine: bits flying everywhere, including on you, and a fine doggie do mist that you inhale… Mo got annoyed with the plastic face mask and took it off, then later complained about stuff hitting him in the face. If there were a sinus (or any) infection already established, doggie do could actually be dangerous. Why does this not occur to intelligent adults? It’s 100% disgusting bacteria; of course, it’s dangerous!
- We’ve made a lot of dietary changes around here lately, adding a boatload of supplements including GSE for yeast control. What I didn’t take seriously enough is that, when yeast dies off, it creates toxins in your system. So you take activated charcoal 45 minutes after the GSE to absorb those toxins. We have not been strict about this part because there were no obvious die-off symptoms (headache, nervousness – there’s a list). But if you have yeast and you kill it, those toxins are definitely created whether you see die-off symptoms or not. Toxins make infections worse. I never put this together. I have now. I think it’s a serious contender for intensifying this infection. (Mothers feel guilty for everything… trying not to go there, just looking at the evidence.)
- This whole front-yard-does-not-drain-during-the-rainy-season and that’s-where-the-septic-tank-is thing. What is the air quality around our house?
- Not to mention the fact that there are no air vents in any bathrooms, tico-style. So… what is the air quality IN our house? I’m putting all this together and wondering right out loud how safe is our air-quality around here. How much, if anything, do these details contribute, especially combined?
Mo just walked in and wants to do some sanding on an air gun, then spray paint it. Hal and I both leaped up and said no way until we get some cute blue face masks and he must wear the eye protection gear, no ifs ands or buts about it, is that clear??? He kinda backed off and said, “yeah, ok, whatever.” He’s now playing his guitar in his room. That’s safe, right?