Uncle! OK, I cried it. Can we just get back to normal again now?

Several months ago, Mary Hazel started vomiting. At first it was nothing too out of the ordinary, nothing of great concern. What baby doesn’t throw up from time to time? I didn’t panic over it, but I definitely noticed it. After a few weeks, I noticed that she threw up every day for nine days in a row. Now, that sounds dramatic, but it wasn’t really. She always threw up at the exact same time in the exact same place doing the exact same thing. Her M.O. was to wake up early in the morning, cry for someone to come bring her to the big bed, nurse, and then…throw up. She would simply turn her head to the side and then, I’ll spare you the details, get sick. After she vomited once (maybe twice), she would roll over happily and sound off with a chipper “Hi!” and flash that silly grin. She obviously was not in any discomfort, her appetite never suffered, and she was in a good mood. Weird, right? Well after the ninth day, I did take her to see the pediatrician. Turns out she had a double ear infection. Normally, that wouldn’t be great news, but I was relieved that there seemed to be a reason for her being sick. We took the antibiotics and the vomiting stopped. The day after she finished the medicine, the vomiting started again. Always once a day, always in the morning. I assumed her infection had returned; it had not. We were told to “watch it” because she seemed fine in every other way. A few weeks later, Mary Hazel broke out in a rash. I thought she had the Chicken Pox. Turns out it was Hand, foot and mouth disease. Guess what one of the symptoms can be? Vomiting. So we waited it out until the rash disappeared and things were good for a while and then the cycle started again. This time, I didn’t take her to the doctor. The ritual of changing the bed sheets four times a week became another chore on our ever-growing list. It started to feel almost normal. I knew that after a week or so, she would stop throwing up for a while…until the next time. It wasn’t long after we resigned ourselves to this new normal when Mary Hazel received her well-documented diagnosis of Wilms Tumor. Devastated as we were, and I won’t go in to all those details on this post, the vomiting was finally explained! After her nephrectomy, sure enough, the vomiting subsided while she was in the hospital. She skipped the daily event for nearly two weeks. I was so relieved to have that unexplained mystery answered and no longer worry about putting rubber sheets on the bed anymore. Well, I must have jinxed the whole thing because exactly a week ago, it started again. Same old routine. 7:00 a.m. feeding, in my bed, lots of vomit. Sigh. Big ol’ sigh. Here we go again. It happened again two days later. I’m starting to Google things. This morning, it went from routine to different. When I heard that gurgle in her throat, I propped her up like usual and had the towel ready. Kind of like that scene in The Princess Bride when Buttercup and Westley are trekking through the Fire Swamp and encounter the flame spurt. “There’s a popping sound preceding each; we can avoid that.” Then she threw up again. I wasn’t ready for it, but I handled it OK. Then she threw up four more times. It was pitiful. She went limp like a ragdoll in my arms. She couldn’t hold her head up. She was listless and unresponsive. She slumped over into the folded pile of soiled towels and just lie there. Needless to say, every internal warning bell and whistle I have went off. Even Russell, who tends rarely to overreact, reacted. We knew this just wasn’t right. In between trying to stir her, I was on the phone with all of our doctors. I knew we were taking her somewhere, I just didn’t know where. The oncologist? The pediatrician? The ER? I got in touch with the pediatrician first so we took that route. Neither of us felt like the vomiting was linked to the cancer since she had it before and after the tumor was removed. Just as soon as I hung up the phone, Mary Hazel popped up from her crumpled pile and, with a twinkle in her eye, exclaimed “Hi!” It actually startled me. How could this be? A minute before, she was comatose. And now she was waving and being perky? What the what? We regroup. Do we still take her to the doctor? Yes, we do. So we did. The doctor wanted to rule out a urinary tract infection which can sometimes cause unexplained vomiting. I spent the better part of the day trying to catch baby tinkle in a bag. This was no easy task. After finally eking out enough for a test, we concluded that this probably was not the culprit. The doctor’s next best guess is something called Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome. Of course, I immediately Googled it and read:

Episodes may begin at any time, but often start during the early morning hours. There is relentless nausea with repeated bouts of vomiting or retching. The person is pale, listless and resists talking. They often drool or spit and have an extreme thirst. They may experience intense abdominal pain and less often headache, low-grade fever and diarrhea. One mother aptly described her child’s state during the episode as a “conscious coma”. The symptoms are frightening to the person and family.

Conscious coma jumped right off the screen. Yes, that is exactly what it was like. Mary Hazel was definitely not with us for those few minutes. So, now what? What does that mean? What do we do? Apparently there is no easy way to diagnose CVS so we pretty much have to rule out other culprits. I think we are supposed to learn more about that on Monday. I would be lying if I said that I had not thought about cancer again. Is it possible that she has some problem in her brain that has gone undetected? Oh, dear Lord. I cannot even fathom that right now. I’m more than happy to grab my CVS diagnosis and run with it. Yes, it may be terribly inconvenient to change the sheets every day and to watch as my daughter slips in and out of her conscious coma, but it is manageable. Children who have been diagnosed with CVS tend to outgrow it in their teens. That’s totally doable. Let’s do this.

Meanwhile, I’m very tired. I’m going to put fresh towels and a tub of wet wipes at the foot of my bed and dream of happy, sleeping, non-throwing-up babies.


12 thoughts on “Uncle

  1. O.O Wow. My dear lady! It never rains, or even pours, it’s just a cyclone on top of a hurricane with a tsunami thrown into the mix for good measure, isn’t it?

    Well, i’m still praying for you guys. Never stopped. I know I’ve offered before to help if you all need it, but really, REALLY, if you get sick of changing sheets and want to just chuck them in the trash out of frustration one of these days, I can bring you new ones. [[hugs]]

    • You are very sweet and I always appreciate the prayers for MH! I think I’ll save them up every three months before her next CT Scan. =) Hope you and Stephen are doing well!

  2. So I just read this with extreme curiosity because the number one thing on my list for our 1-year check up next Friday is why my baby seems to throw up so much! Now that I read your ordeal, I’m not feeling so bad for us. Quinn only throws up 3-5 times a week, usually following a small to large amount of crying. I’ve been trying to rule things out, but it’s darn tough when each day is different. Milk allergy? Lactose intolerance? Other allergy? Just a “thrower-upper?” Seriously touchy gag reflex? Motion sickness? And what I really want to know – is crying the cause or a symptom of discomfort? Your Princess Bride analogy is spot on – we now hear the gurgle and attempt to move and contain the aftermath.

    Well – I am so sorry to hear that there’s yet another health issue on your plates. I think about you guys about 42 times a day. I am trying to figure out a way to send ice cream your way because it’s yummy and it’s stinkin’ hot outside and ice cream makes everything better, right? :0) (unless it’s a milk allergy!)

    • Suzanne, if you figure out how to send ice cream, you can retire a lot earlier than planned! What a great idea! Sorry to hear that your little one is also throwing up. See, they are more and more like than I even thought! I hope you get some good answers. Some people have told me that it’s pretty easy to test for food allergies. Might be a good place to start. And the crying beforehand, hmm…sounds very chicken and egg to me. On a happier note, Happy Birthday to Q!

  3. Erin, I finally had the chance to sit down and read this, though it took me 30 minutes between laundry, dinner, separating quarreling children, and removing the ponytail holder that was stuck in Bowen’s hair (don’t ask). I just keep thinking “what else can this sweet family handle?” I hope by now you have a firm diagnosis and that it’s only CVS. I continue to pray for all of you – for wellness for Mary Hazel, for strength and peace for you and for Russell, and for Poppy and Charlie to know how much they are truly loved during this difficult time and so much focus on MH.
    I look forward to having the possums on Wed, if that still works.
    We love you guys.

  4. Hi Erin:
    My prayers are with you every day! If we were in the same town I’d babysit for you! My daughter had a similar thing happen when she was an infant but maybe not as dramatic as this sounds. Turns out it was related to what she was eating and food allergies. She was nursing and getting things through me that she was allergic to. When I stopped nursing her the problem went away. Then came back anytime she drink regular milk. So we stopped that. Then it was soy. So we stopped that. Finally, the vomiting went away for good, although we did find out that she was having undetected urinary tract infections because she had kidney reflux. After the kidney reflux surgery and eliminating allergic foods, it all has been clear, knock on wood! I hope things improve for y’all – please let us know if there is anything we can do to help out! Love, Kristi

    • Kristi – thanks for this info. I am now paranoid about protecting that good kidney. I will definitely follow up on that possible diagnosis for MH! Thanks!

  5. Jake (my son) started randomly vomiting first thing in the morning around age 7. Not every morning, just 2-3 times a week and always felt perfectly fine afterwards. This was extremely unusual for him though as he had only vomited a handful of times his entire life, up until that point. His pediatrician tried a four month trial of Prevacid for reflux and that stopped it in it’s tracks. He still takes it at times when the random vomiting appears again At those times, we put him back on it for four more months and then try stopping again. Just thought it was worth a mention….thinking of you and truly praying for an uneventful future in your household very soon!

  6. I just wanted to say thanks to all of you for following our sometimes sad, sometimes silly, always interesting adventures.

    Thanks again to my amazing wife, of the Herculean (Amazonian?) stamina — I have no idea how you do all the thousand and one things you do every day and still have time to write so well and thoughtfully about our family!



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