Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Battling Cold Season

Cold season peaks in September, and it has been kicking our butt since July (well, maybe even as far back as May). When we last visited Dr. R in May, Big Monkey showed up at the office with a cold and raging ear infection. Thankfully, we were still able to increase our dose at least a little. I could have never predicted it was the start to a somewhat challenging summer in the sickness department, especially since summer is usually our healthiest time.

Picnic lunch during our first week of school
June went well, but July brought around cold season in full force. Big Monkey started with some GI (gastrointestinal) issue. It settled in just a few days after a dose increase, so we thought it may have been related. Dr. R had us cut our dose in half for a few days (3 days? 5 days? I can't remember now). It seemed to solve the problem, then Little Monkey (we are now referring to him as Little Monkey instead of Baby Monkey out of respect for the fact that he really dislikes being called a baby anymore) came down with the same GI issues about a week after Big Monkey. Well, thank goodness it didn't set us back any on dosing. We increased back up to our normal dose after the few days at a half dose with zero issue. As soon as Little Monkey was well again, Big Monkey got hit with a sore throat and snotty nose. Really? No fever was involved so we held steady at our current dose and just delayed any increases until he was well. That passed around the house, but was gone in about a week.

I think I managed to keep the boys well for 2, maybe 3 weeks (it is all a blur at this point), and then Little Monkey threw up and spiked a fever. Great, the dreaded fever. I bleached, did my best to keep the boys separated for a few days, and attempted everything to hopefully keep Big Monkey from getting this one. Well, attempts didn't work. Four days later Big Monkey threw up. Thankfully, this was a very mild and very short GI bug. Also, thankfully, Big Monkey got sick at 11pm. So we skipped his dose the next morning and went right back to a normal dose the next day. Unfortunately, this bug hit the week before we were scheduled to visit Dr. R again. So we had to reschedule for 3 weeks later. This was our first delay since starting in December 2013. I think that is a really good track record.

Creativity was practiced while we were contagious and stuck at home. Little Monkey's helmet, shield, chest plate, and sword made from zoobs
Trip to the circus
Dr. R was squeezing us in during the lunch break just to make sure we could get in sooner rather than later, so I became hypervigilant the week before our rescheduled visit to Dr. R's office (can you blame me after having sick kids off and on for practically 2 months straight?). We pretty much isolated ourselves to the house for a week and my poor husband got sent to work with hand sanitizers and lectures about good hand hygiene (he got lectured despite having fairly good hand hygiene). I was determined that we were going to make it to this next appointment and be well when we got there. And you know what? I was successful. Even with a trip to the circus just days before.

Little Monkey at the circus
When Dr. R walked into the room at our appointment, his first words were, so are you guys all well today with a little chuckle (I have to email him EVERY time Big Monkey gets sick so he can advise us on how to proceed safely). I assured him we were well, and even he asked if I had any idea why we had suddenly gotten sick so often. I wish I had the answer for that, but I don't. I partially blame daily swim lessons all summer, but I think that's not the whole answer.

I'd love to say that our office visit was uneventful, but it wasn't. It was a successful visit, but it was a bit challenging. We have hit an amount of peanut flour now where it would be advantageous and a lot easier if we could switch to dosing with whole peanuts (that's right, actual peanuts!). Now remember, Dr. R offered Big Monkey a peanut back in May and he was too afraid to eat it. So I've been talking with Big Monkey about eating a peanut since May. We've talked about what a peanut tastes like (he eats other nuts) and how a the number of peanuts Dr. R would give him is the exact same as the flour he is eating everyday just not all ground up. I truthfully think the peanuts would taste better as the flour has sort of a weird taste. It has a peanut flavor, but with a sort of floury taste along with it. We even set up some bribery (I am so not against bribery in cases like these - this is not an easy task for Big Monkey). A trip to a local natural history museum to see the dinosaur bones as well as a trip to a local ice cream parlor (a first for Big Monkey) was offered. All he had to do was eat the peanuts that Dr. R gave him. Better yet, all he had to do was TRY the peanuts (so put them in his mouth). So even if he spit them out and switched to peanut flour, he would have earned his reward.

Yeah, none of that happened. Instead, there was a fight and a tantrum. This is an emotional journey for us and is difficult for Big Monkey to endure at times. He was all geared up and ready to eat the peanut until he saw it. Then he refused. He also refused the peanut flour in the applesauce and attempted to refuse the peanut flour in melted chocolate. Dr. R was willing to just not updose and give me instructions for later, but considering we drive 7 hours to get there and had already rescheduled, I insisted we work with Big Monkey to accomplish an increase. Afterall, peanut flour in applesauce or melted chocolate is nothing new for him. I was a little surprised that he responded like that at the appointment. Thankfully, Dr. R is a doctor with more patience than I think any other doctor on this planet has (he truly is a remarkable and unique individual). We managed to get Big Monkey to take his dose in melted chocolate. He consumed the equivalent of 2.5 peanuts. He developed a very faint and small rash around his mouth (probably from getting all worked up right before his dose), but it faded within 15 minutes without any medication. He was also exhausted the rest of the day, but otherwise did very well. Success.

We did still go get ice cream as I recognize that this process is not easy for Big Monkey and he needs something positive associated with it. Although, he did not get his natural history museum reward.
We also went home with an updated plan. A very exciting updated plan. We challenged at the office with 1.8 grams. Graduation from the program is 9 grams. Seems like a long ways to go, right? Well, Dr. R thinks that we can reach graduation over the next 3 visits. Amazing news! Of course, it is all dependent on how Big Monkey tolerates the larger doses. My understanding is that 4 grams and/or 6 grams can sometimes cause some issues. I am praying that we paid our dues during those first 2 weeks of this process and that we are now done with "issues." If all goes well, then we will updose to 4grams in early December. Then 6 grams at the next visit and 9 grams at the third visit. Since our visits are usually about 9-12 weeks apart, we have the real possibility of graduating by the end of next spring.

Little Monkey with his ice cream sundae
Of course, this also all depends on how many setbacks we have due to illness this year! I fear that this cold and flu seasons (flu season peaks in January usually) may be a bit brutal considering our summer. Hopefully I will be proven wrong, but Big Monkey cannot get the flu vaccine this year (we have been advised to avoid all vaccines until 4-5 months after completing the OIT program), so who knows what is going to happen. The rest of us will be vaccinated, so hopefully herd immunity will protect Big Monkey this year. Good hand hygiene and avoiding people who know are actually sick will also be in practice here. In fact, we may just avoid crowded places for this cold/flu season to ensure that we have a better chance of completing this program.

So far we do not have a good track record. We were due for another small increase today, but instead Big Monkey woke with a sore throat. Little Monkey has had some terrible congestion for 2 days, so I think it's safe to say that we have been hit by yet another cold this season. I'll take that any day over vomiting though.

First day of school!
PE at our house!
In other news, Big Monkey and Little Monkey started school on August 20! Big Monkey is officially a kindergartener! We homeschool, so it doesn't make a huge difference, but we are enrolled in a homeschool charter program through our state, so there are still things Big Monkey must accomplish. So far he is rocking his studies and enjoying most of it. Little Monkey is technically a preschooler, but often insists on doing the same work as Big Monkey. So he's a little between grades. He's too advanced for the pre-K curriculum that Big Monkey did at his age, but not quite advanced enough for all of Big Monkey's work (he is doing some of it right along side us). So I think I am going to switch him to the K4 program that Big Monkey completed last year along with whatever work he wants to do with us. It will be interesting to see what level Little Monkey is at when it's his turn to enter into the charter school in 2 years.

Enjoying the last bit of summer