Learning about the body

I naively expected that when I went in to be colonoscopated on Monday morning, it would be me who would be out of it for the rest of the day, but when I emerged in my “drug they give you so that you won’t remember anything about the experience and are thus more likely to come back and get another one someday”-haze, I received a message that Catherine and Oliver were in Emergency and I was to meet them there.

Oliver’s okay, but he’s had a hard couple of days.

On Thursday when he got home from daycare (only his third day) he had sniffles and a runny nose — we assumed he’d picked up a cold from one of the other kids. Friday was much the same, but Saturday he was really lethargic (didn’t get up until 11 a.m.) and was running a fever of about 102 degrees. We called outpatients and they told us to give him Children’s Tylenol, which we did right away. His fever came down to just below 100, and he seemed to perk up.

Sunday he was up and down — his fever came back, and he was a bit more lethergic, but then he seemed to be picking up later in the day.

On Monday morning Catherine called our family doctor, but she wouldn’t schedule an appointment until Thursday, so at 8:30 a.m., on her way to de-colonscopate me, Catherine took Oliver to Emergency, that really being the only alternative recourse (note to health care system: this doesn’t make much sense).

Emergency was really backed up, and by the time Oliver got to see a pediatrician (who, I should add, was excellent) it was about 2:00 p.m. The pediatrician recommended Oliver be admitted, and he’s been on the children’s ward since Monday afternoon.

What they think happened (in the simple terms that I can understand it) is this: on Monday or Thursday, Oliver picked up a viral infection — a flu-y sort of thing — from someone at daycare. While his body was battling this infection, some sort of bacterial infection (called a “supra-infection”, which we originally heard as “super infection,” which understandably made us worry!) snuck in, and that’s what gave him the fever, the lethargy, and the dehydration. Apparently Oliver is prime age for this sort of thing.

One interesting thing we learned today is that the dignosis of a lot of this type of thing is done only indirectly (for all I know the diagnosis of most types of things is done this way). For example, they test Oliver’s blood for white blood cells (the ones that help to combat infections); if his white blood cell count is higher, then they reason that this is because reinforcements have been called out to rally against an invading infection.

They also take another measure of the blood, called CRP, for “C-reactive protein”. This measurement gives them evidence as to the nature of the infection (i.e. whether it’s bacterial or viral).

Because Oliver’s white count is high and his CRP level is high, this led them to think that he has a bacterial infection, and so they’ve put him on a course of antibiotics.

What’s interesting as well is that they do all this without actually knowing what the bacteria that’s infecting actually is (hence the indirectness); the antibiotics Oliver’s been prescribed will take out (we were told) about 95% of likely bacterial invaders than affect children Oliver’s age.

He’s perked up a lot today — starting to get frustrated by the strange IV tube coming out of his arm — and things are looking like they’re on the mend. White cell count is trending down, as is CRP.

Oddly enough, one byproduct of this experience is that Oliver refuses to eat with a spoon: he’ll only accept food if it’s on a fork. More and more like his father every day.


Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on April 17, 2002 - 00:14 Permalink

As a fellow alcophobe I found my post-colonoscopy days to be interesting and mildly disturbing.

[Experiences as I vaguely remember them] → [Actual experience]

[At my brother’s birthday, only hours after the colonoscopy, I sang strongly and clearly] → [A bellowed out a solo of Happy B. Day while my family watched in horror]

[Struck with a hankering, I ordered some almonds from a passing vendor] → [Having overheard a conversation about nuts, I demanded a bag of almonds before ever trying to stand up after the test]

I’m glad I don’t remember the test, but I worry to this day that even though I can’t remember the experience explicitly, I must suffer the reprecussions of the trauma.

Ann's picture
Ann on April 17, 2002 - 13:56 Permalink

I was so intrigued by the condition known as “alcophobism” that I clicked on the link…only to discover what I could have figured out if I thought about it for a minute.
I myself am a victim of partial alcophobism, if that’s possible.
I am also the victim of dumness, apparently.

elizabeth's picture
elizabeth on July 29, 2004 - 21:19 Permalink


I wanted to know what are the symptoms of Protein S. Is their any signs on your body or just in the blood.