Chasing Ghosts

Let’s see…where were we? I’ve spent the better part of my week chasing ghosts. Last week, Poppy suffered what I think was a very bad case of heat exhaustion. This week, she is still suffering and we cannot seem to put our finger on the culprit.

Our very active daughter has a consistently bad habit of not hydrating. She has the activity level of her mother and the drinking habits of her father. (Not those drinking habits.) Last Thursday, she spent many hours in the sun. It was splash day at school, then the bouncy house, then bike riding in the near-100-degree heat. Admittedly, I should have done a better job of monitoring her fluid intake, but somehow I was distracted by all the other things mothers tend to monitor in a day. She went to bed that night feeling puny, complaining of a stomach ache, and refusing to eat. The next morning, she seemed a lot better. We went swimming with friends, but still she didn’t eat. I forced some water down her gullet, but she wasn’t happy about it. By noon, she was complaining of that stomach ache again. I dragged her through Whole Foods and promised her a cookie if she let me complete my grocery transactions without having to leave. She refused the cookie. Oh dear, this was serious. She begged to go home. When we got there, she literally passed out in a little heap on the couch and did not wake for hours. When she finally stirred, she complained constantly of her stomach hurting. She writhed around the couch and begged me not to press her tummy too hard. Strange. I took her to the doctor to get checked out. They diagnosed her with a kidney infection based on the location of the pain and the look and color of her urine. We left with antibiotics and started them immediately. The next morning, she was perky again. I couldn’t believe how quickly the meds were working. We went to a birthday party at Chic-Fil-A. She brought her own “chik” nuggets, which she refused to eat. She also refused the cake and ice cream. (Ding, ding, ding.) She did not eat again for two days. The pediatrician called Sunday night to ask about Poppy. She said that the urine culture tested negative for infection but positive for a high level of ketones. She wanted to see her again. We went back on Tuesday for another look. Poppy’s ketone level had more than doubled since Friday and now there was blood in her urine. We checked her glucose level to rule out diabetes. Her sugar level was normal thankfully. The doctor concluded that her ketone levels were off the chart as a result of starvation. Her body was breaking down muscle since there was no available energy to consume. The plot thickened. The next day, she perked up in the morning, but crashed again that afternoon. Eventually our wonderful babysitter enticed Poppy to eat a healthy breakfast of eggs and oatmeal and Poppy energetically played all day Wednesday. By 5:00, she was laid out on the couch again, rolling around and groaning. What the heck!? This morning, I took her for an ultrasound to check for, er, I’m not even sure exactly. No kidney stones, no pancreatitis, no obvious cause for alarm. She did drink some chocolate milk at the hospital and seemed to be her normal precocious self. Ironically, tomorrow is her 5-year well visit at the pediatrician’s office, so we will have her pee in yet another cup and see what those pesky ketones are up to now. After a week of chasing a diagnosis, I’m back to my original thought. Maybe severe heat exhaustion took a real toll on her little body and she is just having a hard time making a full recovery. I hope that she continues to improve each day and is firing on all cylinders before the first day of kindergarten at her new school.

In other news, the rest of us are all just fine.

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