Call me superstitions if you must, but I don’t really like to talk (or blog) about the outcome of things before they actually come out.
I feel like I might jinx things or something.
But, now that we’ve gotten the pretty much all the way official word from the doc on #3’s condition and his probable prognosis, I feel comfortable sharing with all of you just what happened.
How we went from this spit-ball-of-fire-super-human…
To this, literally barely-hanging-on-for-dear-life lump of man child you see here…
One thing is to blame: strep throat.
The seemingly innocuous disease that many will suffer through in childhood (sometimes multiple times), tried to kill my baby.
Like, for real.
Thanks to a complication of strep throat known on WebMD in the medical community as Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis, my son was thiiiiiiis close to experiencing kidney failure and continues to suffer acute renal disease.
This is for all of you mamas like me who didn’t even know this was possible…
Real Talk on Strep Throat (and How It Gave My Kid Kidney Failure)
What is Strep Throat?
Strep throat is a bacterial infection in the throat and the tonsils. It is usually treated with antibiotics.
So, what? You didn’t get your son on antibiotics in time?
#3 started his antibiotics treatment mere hours after he expressed to me that his throat was hurting. His throat pain was so severe, and his neck was SO swollen that he couldn’t even move his head without bursting into tears. Initially I thought he had meningitis and rushed him into the doctor expecting the worst. But, his rapid strep test came back positive within seconds, and the doctor put him on a course of antibiotics which he advised me I should double dose him with that night. Despite all of this he got post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis.
What exactly is Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis?
According to MedlinePlus, post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis is a disorder of the kidneys that occurs after infection with certain strains of Streptococcus bacteria. The strep bacterial infection causes the tiny blood vessels in the filtering units of the kidneys (glomeruli) to become inflamed. This makes the kidneys less able to filter the urine. There is no specific treatment for post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis. Treatment is focused on relieving symptoms. Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis usually goes away by itself after several weeks to months.
For us, I noted after his fourth day on antibiotics that he wasn’t getting better. He wasn’t really eating. He wasn’t able to move his throat. His fever persisted. Sometimes, I would look over at him playing on the floor and he’d have tears streaming down his face. He couldn’t tell me why. He never cries really so I knew something was off.
Then, on the fifth day, he got hives all over his face. His fever spiked a bit. He started to barf. I called the doctor and they said to give him a couple more days on the antibiotic before we took him in.
It was Thursday.
He stopped eating. He continued to barf periodically straight through Sunday.
Monday, he sorta seemed better (no barfing, but quiet and not crying) so I foolishly took him to school (I really just wanted him to be better I think; it had been 2 weeks). His teacher called me after an hour and said he was lying on the floor in the reading room and that I should come get him.
He was crying when I got there.
We called the doctor who said to bring him over for a look in the morning. And then he went home and slept for hours. Like 18.
The next morning his entire face was swollen. He couldn’t stay awake at the doctor. His urine looked like McDonald’s Sweet Tea and there was only a tiny bit of it.
The nurse practitioner called the doctor. The doctor sent us immediately to the lab. They knew he was experience acute renal disease; they were afraid his kidneys were failing.
He had terribly painful leg cramps. He still wasn’t eating. Or peeing. Or talking, or laughing, or even staying awake for more than an episode of Austin & Ally (man I fell in love with that show while he was sick).
The following morning he had us back in his office by 9am to tell us that he was afflicted with post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis. As a result, he was anemic, he had high blood pressure, and he’d gained 3lbs in 3 days (that’s kind of a big deal when you weigh less than 50).
After consulting with the pediatric nephrologist at Children’s Hospital in DC, they put him on Lasix (a diuretic) and began to follow his blood pressure and weight daily. We were told to limit all physical activity (not the he was moving from the sofa anyway), put him on a sodium restricted diet, and watch him closely for urine output and increased swelling.
After witnessing him leaping off of the exam table to the floor, ninja style, the doctor declared Saturday would be his final daily appointment.
He should be able to come off of the medication and return to normal activity this week, provided all checks out with the lab.
Is he better now? Like, for good?
After beginning to wean him off of his medication at the beginning of the week and reading his latest lab results, his doctors have decided to put him back on the medication through the end of the week at least. While his lab work showed improvement, things are not progressing quite as we’d hoped. We will consult with the pediatric nephrologist again and reevaluate our next steps on Friday when he goes in for his next appointment.
All in all, once we get past these first few weeks, they expect his kidneys will continue to recover over the course of the next few months to a year. He will continue to be monitored (lab work mostly) to ensure that everything goes straight back to awesome.
Can this happen to anyone? Should I freak every time my child is diagnosed with strep?
Yep, we’re not special, it can happen to anyone. It just usually doesn’t. This is a very rare occurrence in industrialized nations where medical care is readily available. Clearly that doesn’t mean no one gets it, it’s just unlikely. In 30 years of practicing pediatrics, our doctor had only seen one case of this disease in a child. For sure though, if your child gets strep and doesn’t start to exhibit signs of improvement after a couple of days, insist your doctor takes another look at him. You can’t really prevent this disease, but you can be familiar with the symptoms to help your medical practitioner diagnose it quickly so as to prevent your child suffering the tumultuous consequences #3 did. Our doctor did a great job catching this and we’re so grateful that he was able to diagnose him quickly and move forward with treatment.