Saturday, September 24, 2011

Herbstfest (Fall Festival)

It was very crowded downtown.
We made it safely back to Germany.  We had a wonderful time in Texas but it is nice sleeping in your own bed.  Blue Rock has enjoyed his toys and being home as well.

Today was a busy day.  We went to a friend's birthday party this morning, then this evening we went downtown to the Herbstfest - Fall Fest.  It seems like there is almost always a festival in Germany going on somewhere.  We took the strassenbahn downtown, which my son loves.  I ate fish and chips and my husband had sausage.  Blue Rock ate some of each of ours.  We ended our fun evening getting ice cream on our walk home.

First time to take Blue Rock downtown without his stroller

Inside a strassenbahn
On our walk home

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Answers! Biopsy results and why my 2 year old is anemic

We finally got answers today!  We got the biopsy results which showed that Blue Rock has allergies in his stomach and colon.  The doctor prescribed Prevacid which reduces acid in the stomach so it can heal (also used to treat GERD) and Pentasa which is an inflammatory and heals inflammation.  Most likely the inflamation was caused from allergies and possibly a virus he got last winter that never healed. 

We found out on Wednesday that one of his great-grandmother's has a blood disorder which causes anemia.  Since Blue Rock's anemia is so severe, we asked to be referred to a hematologist. With lots of persistence, thank you, Husband, we got a last minute appointment today.  After the hematologist saw the lab and biopsy results he agreed to see us.  It appears that Blue Rock's allergies has caused him to become anemic.  When your stomach and colon are inflamed, it can prevent iron from being absorbed in your body.  Therefore, we need to find out what his allergies are from, continue the iron supplement, and that, along with the Prevacid and Pentasa, will help him get better.  Once we get back to Germany, we'll need to get his blood checked to make sure his body is absorbing the iron.  If so, then usually within a month of taking iron supplements, his iron levels should be back to normal.  Then we are to continue for two additional months with the iron supplement and his iron storage should be restored.

We also think we discovered another reason why he's throwing up but are not certain.  The main source is of course allergies. We have eliminated cow's milk from his diet (he's been mostly drinking almond milk for the past month anyway).  The hematologist said that cow milk is a poor source of nutrition and can cause anemia, especially in children.  It also causes problems in people who are allergic to it, which most likely Blue Rock is.  Also, Blue Rock ends up throwing up at least once during days he drinks cow's milk.  Sometimes right away, sometimes later in the day.  He's gone a week without cow milk and has already only thrown up once. Thankfully Blue Rock loves almond milk which has more nutrients anyway.  Besides allergies, he may have asthma, which is another possible reason he throws-up so much.  We don't know for certain but it does run in my family.  He gets eczema extremely bad in Germany and after running around a lot you can hear a little whizzing.  Some children vomit a lot when they have asthma when they are young.  Please say a prayer that if he does, it's not severe.  

These past three weeks we were hoping to relax and mainly enjoy seeing family and friends.  However, it seems like it's been more of a medical trip than anything else. We have had one medical appointment after another.  We are just so thankful that we have answers and know where to go from here. We both are so thankful to God that we were able to come home to take care of our son.  

Thank you again for all your prayers.  We feel very fortunate to have been able to receive the expedited care we received. We are very thankful that he doesn't appear to have anything real serious. Also, that while trying to figure out the cause of his vomiting, we discovered another problem that we are able to fix.  Now we just need to find out where we can get him tested for allergies in Germany.        

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The scopes went well

Before the procedure
Today has been a long day!  Why am I still up at midnight?  We woke up at 4:30am so we could take Blue Rock to the children's hospital for an endoscope and colonoscopy.  When we woke up, we found out Blue Rock was already awake.  He was playing in my sister's old room, where he's sleeping.  I guess he knew he needed to be up!  We arrived at the hospital before 6am, like they said to do.  We went to the back around 6:45am and they took him in the operating room for the endoscope and colonoscopy around 7:45am.

Blue Rock did very well.  I was worried about the anaesthesia since he has never had it before.  The doctors and nurses did a great job.  I was very impressed with the hospital, it was beautiful.  I told my husband that if anything was to ever happen to Blue Rock, I'd want him to be taken care of in Texas, not in Germany.  There is a HUGE difference in medical care and facilities.  Blue Rock has been to the children's ER in Germany, twice, and the surgery ER once.  And of course I gave birth in Germany.  Don't get me wrong, the Germans are in general very healthy people.  There are also some wonderful doctors there.  However, the facitilites are so much nicer in the States, at least in Texas.  Also the waiting rooms are more comfortable and they have food.  Where we are in Germany, there is either no food available for people waiting and not staying at the hospital, or it is very little and not very good.  The children's hospital we were at today had a great selection of food, including a Chic-Fil-A!  I mean, how awesome!!  Also, the nurses were so nice.  I loved how I could understand EVERYTHING they said.  They were also very good with my son, which is most important.  There were even toys to play with in the patient room and there were lots of books in the waiting room. The doctors, both the gastroenterologist who did the scopes and the anaesthesiologist were not from the US but their English was very clear.  When someone explains things in your native language, especially medical things, that makes things so much easier.  I felt like we were in good hands.

Waiting to go to the back room
The great news is that Blue Rock's esophagus and stomach look normal.  The only concern is the doctor saw a number of lymph nodes which he said is not too uncommon in young children, but also could be a sign of allergies.  We will know more once we get the results of the biopsy back.  The bad news is, we still do not know why he is vomiting so much and the full cause of his anemia. I'm starting to think part of the anemia is caused from a huge growth spurt he had over the last 2 months.  He grew 2.38 inches in 2 months.  I think the vomiting is most likely caused by food allergies. I will probably go back to keeping a food diary and writing down everytime he throws-up.

I hated that my two year old had to go through these procedures. But as his parents, we felt this was the next best step to take given our situation.  If he was not so anemic, we probably would have waited on this.  We are just glad they didn't find something awful.  Thank you all again for keeping us in your prayers.  They were not able to check for mechanical issues because of the anesthesia.  The best test for that would probably be the barium test, which is what they originally wanted to do first until they found out he was so anemic. I think our next step will probably be allergy testing since we are not here long enough to get the barium test done.  Please continue to say a prayer for us when you think about it. Thanks again for all the prayers.  God does listen and we feel so blessed to have our son prayed over all across the world these past few days.

Preparing for upper and lower endoscopes

Thursday we got more blood work done on Blue Rock as well as took in another stool sample.  We found out that he is extremely anemic, not just slightly like they originally said.  The doctor recommended we have an endoscope and colonoscopy done on our 2 year old.  This makes me so sad and somewhat scared.  On the otherhand, I am so thankful that we are in Texas and (hopefully) able to finally find out why our son is vomiting so frequently.  Sadly, we had to end our visit with my in-laws early so we could have the procedure done near my parents who live by really great doctors.  There's an excellent children's hospital here and I feel more comfortable having this done here than in Germany.  We have dealt with this for over a year and found no answers in Germany.  We've only talked to the pediatric doctors about this when we probably should have just gone on our own and found a specialist.  But we are here now and hopefully will find some answers tomorrow.

Today was hard.  Blue Rock could only have clear liquids - juice, Gatorade, tea, lemonade, water, broth, Popsicles, and Jell-O.  He had to take 4 cap fulls of MiraLax in 16 oz. of liquid within 4 hours.  He drank it within 20 minutes.  Then he had to drink 8 oz. of liquids within 2 hours after that.  He passed with flying colors and had 24 oz. down in less than an hour.  I offered him lots to drink today, plenty of little Popsicles - I love the selection of Popsicles in the States - and Jell-O, which he didn't like. I was worried he would ask for his favorite foods but he didn't ask for Almond milk until it was time for bed.  Then he sweetly said, "I would like some Almond milk for dinner, please."  I told him he wasn't able to drink Almond milk tonight but could have water, juice, lemonade, or Gatorade.  He wanted lemonade.  

MiraLax is strong and it was messy today. My parents and husband were awesome!  They were a huge help when there was a big leaky, explosion of poo that got all over the carpet.  It frightened Blue Rock as he didn't know what was going on except he was leaking poo everywhere.  I felt so bad for my little boy.  But overall he was such a trooper and really did an excellent job today.  I could not be prouder of him.

We go in the morning for the endoscope and colonoscopy.  Please say a prayer for us that Blue Rock does well with the anesthesia, the doctors and nurses take good care of him, and they figure out what is causing the vomiting and anemia. I know lots of people are already praying, but I wanted to extend the request to those I don't know personally.  God is great and I know He will take care of us.  Thank you.

Friday, September 9, 2011

My 2 year old throws-up, a lot!

We made it safe to Texas.  I'll be the first to say, overseas flights are not fun and double the not fun when you travel with a young child.  Blue Rock threw up two times on the flight.  About 5 minutes after departing and an hour later.  We only brought two changes of clothes for him so my husband and I kept a barf bag close by at all times.  He threw up again on the car ride to my parents' house once we made it to Texas.  He slept only 1 hour and then we have been having lots of sleep problems since.  Thankfully he's sleeping until 7am now, rather than getting up at 1:30am, or 3am, or 5am...ugh! 

The short version is the vomiting has caused Blue Rock to become a little anemic. I am crushed!  Absolutely crushed and feel like a failure.  We try so hard to give him a balanced diet but when he throws up almost everyday and sometimes multiple times a day, most nutrition is lost.  Please pray for him.  The background and how we're handling this is below.

The excessive vomiting starting around Thanksgiving last year.  For Thanksgiving we went to Paris and thankfully he didn't throw-up on our vacation there.  But once we got home he threw up everyday, multiple times for over two weeks.  We took him to the doctor it seemed like every few days and they did some tests.  He caught a virus and had an infection.  They did some blood work and gave him some medicine.  After a few months of this, he stopped throwing up everyday.  Although, sometimes he does throw-up everyday of the week.  So the problem is not completely solved, we are just better prepared now.  We keep a bowl on every floor in case he throws up.  There's not necessarily any one thing that triggers this.  At his 18-month well baby and 24-month well baby the doctors said he's growing fine and is verbally advanced for his age.  Since he exceeded the 24-month assessment and is gaining weight, the doctor didn't seem to think there's a concern, especially since he doesn't have a fever.  She said, sometimes kids get upset and they feel it in their stomachs, other kids just throw-up.  My kid is very smart and sensitive and throws-up. 

Since we were coming to the U.S., we decided to try and get another opinion from a doctor here.  Sadly, we couldn't find a pediatrician to see us but we're referred to a specialist.  The appointment lady told my husband twice that she wouldn't give us an appointment since we lived overseas.  Thankfully, my husband finally got us an appointment with a pediatric gastroenterologist.  I really like this doctor.  I'm so sad that we have such limited time and have to do several tests in such a short amount of time and are unable to get certain things tested.  We started with blood, urine, and stool tests.  His stool and urine are fine but we found out he is a little anemic.  I am so sad about this!  I want to cry!  I'm not surprised since he throws up so much but it is heartbreaking to hear that your two year old is anemic.  Especially, when I try so hard to give us all a balanced diet.  We had to turn in some more stool today so they could do a hemocult stool card (to check for blood in his stool). And they wanted to take his blood again to make sure his red blood cells are working fine.  We hated for them to take more blood because he's so little and they seem to take so much.  We were told to give him an iron supplement (ferinsol) for 30 days.  I was reading about anemia and the importance of getting enough iron.  He was breastfed for the first year of his life (never had formula which is fertified with iron) and at 9 months he got 3-day fever and was really sick.  They checked his blood then and his iron levels were fine.  At 12 months when they typically check iron levels they said since he was fine at 9 months, they didn't need to do any blood work, which we were glad about.  Blue Rock eats really well, most vegetables and every fruit but melons.  Since we primarily don't eat meat, the doctor told us to give Blue Rock two servings of red meat a week and that, along with the vegetables, should give him enough iron.  He also eats iron-fortified cereals.  Of course if your child throws up most of the good meals, then most of the nutrition is lost.

I'm glad we are back in Texas and close to specialists and able to get this checked out.  We're at my in-laws now, who live in the country.  We spent the first week at my parents.  We are enjoying family and Blue Rock loves all his extended family and friends.  Once I find out the test results I'll let you know.  Please say a prayer for us and Blue Rock.  Just this morning, I took him down the street to the park.  We were walking and he stopped to cough and throw up.  Most of the time it is very random.  He threw up yesterday after lunch in the parking lot of Red Lobster.  We're just at a loss for what is causing this and hopefully will find out soon.  Thanks for reading this long post and for your prayers.

***Tip: If your child throws up a lot, have the doctor check for anemia.  Some side effects of anemia include: brittle nails, finger and toe nails curling, pin sharp pain in feet, paleness, tiredness, and dark circles under the eyes.
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