About three weeks ago, we put Bumby on amoxicillin for an ear infection. He’s had the same nasty ear infection since about mid-February, and just can’t seem to completely kick it. We had suspected a mild penicillin allergy the last time he was on it, but ultimately decided it was a combo of the high fever, pneumonia, and two horrible viruses that he had — and not the amoxicillin after all. So I said sure, okay. If that’s the best for ear infections, let’s give it to him and hope it clears it up once and for all.
For a week, he seemed fine. Ear clearing up, no reaction to the amoxicillin. We simultaneously decided it was a good time to try to wean him off his Prevacid. The problem with treating a chronic condition like acid reflux is that the only way to know if you still need the meds is to take the person off the meds and see how they do. Prevacid weaning is known to cause “rebound acid,” meaning reflux symptoms in a person that would otherwise be fine, so you kind of have to push through the discomfort and see how they do once they are completely med-free. We opted for a very slow wean, using an entire month to take him down step by step. We also started a probiotic regimen and a low-acid diet to try to get his gut healthy and comfortable.
Then, on day seven of the amoxicillin, this happened:
I was rather terrified, and rushed him in to the pediatrician. An allergic reaction, they said. Give him Benadryl to keep him comfortable and let us know how it goes. It should start to clear up within 24 hours. The following day, he was worse, so they prescribed a low-ish dose of prednisone (a steroid) to help him clear up what was now an “inflammatory” reaction, which I guess is worse than an allergic reaction. The day after that, it was even worse. I will spare you the photos, because they are completely heartbreaking. He was miserable — itchy, hot, covered in red splotches. His eyes were starting to swell shut. I was even more terrified, and rushed him back in to the pediatrician. They gave him a shot of steroids in his fat little arm because the inflammation had progressed to his mucous membranes. THIS POOR KID, you guys. Also, for the record, he still had the ear infection.
The steroid shot kicked his inflammatory reaction’s ass, though. Five hours later, his skin was completely clear, although it was a little bruised looking in certain places where the inflammation had been really bad. But now, we had to taper him off the steroids. Apparently you have to give the body time to adjust and take over the work that the steroids were doing. So we were on a 10-day wean from the steroids.
You want to know what’s worse than a toddler with an ear infection? A toddler with an ear infection and roid rage. He was so mad, all the time mad. No, you can’t go out that door, let’s go out this one. Head-slamming against the ground, tears, screaming, kicking tantrum. It got worse and worse as the week progressed, because the steroids amped him up so much he couldn’t sleep. He was also literally eating as much as I was, which meant he was constantly hungry. Always eating, always running, always crying, and never, ever, ever sleeping.
After a week of this, I was totally fried. On Saturday morning, my wife got out of the shower and I told her that in the hour we had been up, Bumby had seven tantrums. I tried to calm him and sit on the couch with him, and he slithered off my lap to the floor and started SLAMMING the side of his head against the ground. My wife sat down next to him, and stuck her finger in his ear. He immediately calmed. Oh yeah. The ear infection.
We went back to the pediatrician, where the receptionist greeted the lot of us by name. The ear was scary-infected still, so they gave him a z-pack after we refused an antibiotic that could cross-react with a penicillin allergy in about 10% of people. So starting on Saturday, he was on Prevacid (although down to a half-dose by then), steroids, and antibiotics. It’s going really great weaning him off the meds, we tell ourselves. Oh hey look! A molar! Awesome. Also, he has broken 30 lbs due to eating everything in sight while on the roids. I guess that’s why people take them to “bulk up.”
It has, however, improved since then. He finished the steroids on Monday and I gleefully threw that shit in the garbage. Today, he had his last dose of antibiotics, and I gleefully threw THAT shit in the garbage. The ear does not seem to be bothering him, nor does the stomach. He is back to eating a normal-for-Bumby amount of food (which is to say, approximately as much as your average 10 year old). He’s down to 1/4 dose of Prevacid and doing great with weaning off of it — he only has half of his nighttime dose and nothing in the morning anymore. After about a month of frequent night-wakings, Bumby has slept through the night for two nights in a row. Honestly, the 2mL of Prevacid he is on probably does almost nothing to reduce his stomach acid, so I expect he has really and truly outgrown the reflux. We’re keeping on with the low-acid diet and the probiotics. We’re going to delay his 15 month booster vaccines, which are due on Friday, because HOLY SHIT this kid has had a lot of crap pumped into his body in the last month.
Now, he is happy and healthy. We had a laughing fit this morning after I told him “Nopity-nope-nope” could he open the drawer and eat Mommy’s earrings. A week ago this would have been 30 minutes of screaming. Instead, he pointed at the drawer and said “Nope nope” and cracked up, over and over.
On May 2, he will get his last-ever dose of Prevacid. On May 3, our little boy will be completely medicine-free for the first time in about 10 months. Hallelujah.