Where it came from and how she got it is still a mystery to us...
Izzy was born on September 19, 2007 at Saint Anthony’s Hospital. Her birth was via c-section. Her father could not be here as he was serving a tour in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. We did however get to be the first family to ever do a web cam birth in the OR at Saint Anthony’s and the story was published in their hospital newsletter.
Her father came home when she was just 9 days old and shortly after his arrival is when we noticed signs and symptoms starting. I would feed her a small bottle and within minutes she was projectile vomiting. She could not keep anything down. We took her to our primary care physician who thought it was a sign of acid reflux. So we started her on some medication to help. For a short time, it helped. But she was an EXTREMELY fussy baby. We switched her formula, that did not help. Matt had to leave after two short weeks and I was left on my own to take care of our brand new daughter and our 13-month-old son. Several doctor appointments later, various acid blocking medicines later, and no relief is what I had coming without any notice.
Izzy would not sleep and was constantly screaming. Nothing I could do would help. Car rides, warm baths, rocking, singing, reading. Nothing. My parents could not even help to calm her down and I was wearing out. My in-laws decided to take Izzy the night of Thanksgiving so that I could have a break as I prepared to return back to work after maternity leave.
That night is when the nightmare we had been living got worse. My in-laws called me to tell me Izzy had been awake almost all night with diarrhea. It progressively continued to get worse throughout the day. It went from brown to clear and into green slime. After calls to our primary care, we were referred to take her to the Cardinal Glennon Pediatric ER at Saint Anthony’s.
It was here that they said it was probably gastroenteritis and that she tested positive for a urinary tract infection. She was running a high fever at that point and was not taking a bottle. After several long hours in the ER we were transferred overnight to Cardinal Glennon Hospital in Saint Louis. Every morning we were met with a team of residents who discussed our case and reviewed signs and symptoms. Tests were run, blood work was drawn, stool cultures were taken. Izzy had to lay clothing-less in the bed as she was defecating so often. So often that her bottom was ruby red and bleeding. A student nurse from Uganda was the only nurse that came in and rocked her and showed her loving attention. She sang to her, caressed her little head and told her everything was going to be all right. Izzy could not keep any fluids orally ingested down, so all of her fluids and medications were provided via IV.
As the days continued, she lost weight and became very pale. We received a topical salve for her bottom that is used with kids that have short gut syndrome. It was a miracle salve as it started to protect her bottom from the green slime escaping from her gut. The final diagnosis from Cardinal Glennon was gastroenteritis along with acid reflux and an allergy to corn. We were prescribed bottled Alimentum, Maalox, and Prevacid. After almost two weeks of in hospital care we were sent home one evening being told there was nothing else they could do that I could not do at home.
I stopped at Wal-Mart in Kirkwood to get Izzy the new formula. I bought the powdered version of Alimentum thinking it would last longer than a bottle and cost-wise it was more budget-friendly. I had to save where I could as we were living off a military budget and funds were slim. She screamed all the way through the store and all the way home. By 10:30 I would not get her to keep anything down and my nerves were shot. I called our primary care and she referred us to go to the new Saint Johns Pediatric ER in Creve Coeur. So I called my parents and my in-laws to let them know and off Izzy and I went.
I was met at the hospital by my father and my mother-in-law. Together we talked with the doctors and put a plan of action in place. They requested the medical records from Cardinal Glennon and we were admitted. The next morning we met with Dr. Brady, a pediatric gastroenterologist. She explained a great deal of what was going on to us in detail. Within 24 hours we had discovered that Izzy has Salmonella poisoning. It appears she had had it for some time. So, after a couple of weeks in the hospital we brought Izzy home right before Christmas. Follow up appointments with Dr. Brady and our primary care physician eventually lead us to an infectious disease doctor. To no avail and after months of continued culture testing and phone calls from the local health department – Izzy remained infected with the Salmonella. No one knew how long it would take and it was finally agreed upon that she would be a permanent carrier.
However, about two months ago I received a phone call from our primary care that based off the most recent culture, the Salmonella was gone. I cried and hugged my little girl so tight. The nightmare was over.
Izzy had Salmonella Barranquilla (which originated in Colombia, South America) and Campylobacter. No one else in the United States had been diagnosed that year with this strain. Where it came from and how she got it is still a mystery to us. We suspect that it was possible my husband brought it home with him on-leave from Iraq. Other elements at play here were that when Izzy started vomiting, it was her body’s way of getting rid of the strain. We gave her medicine prescribed by the doctor that unknowingly allowed it to get pushed and embedded into her gastrointestinal system. Once there it multiplied like crazy and made a home for itself in our little girl. Through this process, not only did our daughter get sick but so did our son. He was diagnosed with gastroenteritis caused by Campylobacter. Shortly after his diagnosis, I was hospitalized for a day and my in-laws along with our niece each got it.
It has been almost two years now since the nightmare began and we are now living our own fairy tale life. Kids are well and their father is home. I could not ask for anything more than the love and life we have now.