ANNIE’S STORY – PART THREE OF TWELVE
To refresh your memory… Annie had just recovered from back to back assaults to her immune system – a negative reaction to the varicella vaccine, rotavirus, and a brown recluse spider bite.
I then made the brilliant decision to take Annie to a children’s water park for a day of fun. Much to my dismay, Annie took several sips of the nasty water while at the park. The water was contaminated with “God only knows what” from all the toddlers with swim diapers running around in four inches of standing water.
Two days after our visit to the water park, Annie started having diarrhea with a vengeance! This was not your ordinary, run of the mill diarrhea. She had it at least 8 times a day. It came out with such a force that it could shoot across the room (right past her diaper). It was almost chalky white in color and had a smell so bad that I cannot find the words to describe it. The diarrhea would eat her skin off, making her look like she was covered in acid burns that eventually bled and scabbed over.
Every time the diarrhea came, her entire body would tense up, she would begin to shake all over, and then let out a blood curdling scream. She could not eat or sleep. She turned ghostly white and got severe dark circles under her eyes. She began to walk on her toes (I thought it must be due to her gut pain). Even though she hadn’t eaten in days, her belly was bigger than ever… swollen and bloated like the kids you see on television that are starving to death.
The only time we left the house was to go to the pediatrician for another useless visit… only to be told she has “toddler diarrhea” and that it was normal. “NORMAL!” I screamed. I knew there was nothing normal about what we were experiencing. That was the last time I set foot in that pediatrician’s office.
After the diarrhea persisted for a month, I realized that Annie’s personality had changed dramatically and she didn’t seem to be snapping out of it like she did during previous illnesses.
She didn’t seem to notice when I walked into the room anymore. She wouldn’t look at me. She wouldn’t respond to her name. She didn’t want to read together. She wouldn’t talk or answer questions. I thought – well, who wants to talk when they feel sick? She’ll get her words back. But they weren’t coming back.
Annie started playing in unusual ways… lining things up, doing the same things over and over. If I tried to interact with her, she would grab my hand and escort me to another room… her way of telling me to go away without words.
She started covering her ears even when there was no sound. She was doing it in anticipation that something might be too loud or anxiety provoking. She didn’t want to play with other children anymore.
I knew we had a big problem. I took her to the Emergency Room to see if they could figure out why she was still having diarrhea. They did a stool test and determined she had super high levels of salmonella. I was again advised to let it run its course.
Two weeks later, I got a call from the state department of health. They wanted to educate me on how to prevent the spread of salmonella in our house. Did I know to clean my counters and my hands after touching raw meat? Questions of that nature. (Apparently, hospitals have a duty to report cases of salmonella). I tried not to get offended.
The lady on the phone then proceeded to ask me how I thought Annie got salmonella. I told her she got sick right after our visit to the water park. Her interest perked up when I mentioned the water park. She asked me if we had been to a particular water park during a particular period of time and I said yes.
She let me know that there had been a massive outbreak of salmonella from the very park we visited and that the children’s water area had been shut down for investigation. Just my luck.
Now I knew what was causing the diarrhea, but still had no idea when or if my daughter’s personality and developmental milestones would return. After two months, the diarrhea lessened (to a couple of times a day), but there was still no trace of the Annie I used to know. What had stolen my little girl?
Then came the life changing Supernanny episode that I wrote about in a earlier post. The episode that gave me a name for the thief that stole my daughter… AUTISM.
I knew that my daughter was trapped in a different world. I’d like to tell you I immediately took action and started trying to bust her free, but that would be a lie. The truth is, I became paralyzed. I went into the second worse depression of my life and did nothing but cry and pray this nightmare would go away for the next three months.
To be continued…
Annie’s Story Part 2 http://ventography.wordpress.com/2012/02/08/the-prequel/