Flu 2018: How it Progressed

Embracing winter mind (see prior post) is all well and good until the smallest member of your household contracts the very bad, horrible, no good, really quite awful flu of 2018. Here’s how it progressed (to date):

  1. Sunday (2/4)–Flu came on suddenly with sore throat, chills, extreme fatigue, lack of appetite and low grade fever.
  2. Monday (2/5)–Fever climbed from 101 degrees to 104.2 later in the day. My child, who never naps, slept almost all day. No appetite whatsoever. Difficult to get fluids in him but I roused him periodically for sips of water. Still, I saw his lips getting dry. As the fever crested over the 104 point, I finally gave him Tylenol. This child has a mild clotting disorder (in addition to bilateral hearing loss and asthma), so Ibuprofen is not an option. In general, I let fevers run their course, but above 104 (and climbing), I was ready to move into action with a fever reducer. Tylenol brought the fever down to about 102 within two hours. With his sleeping schedule so off and feeling better on fever reducer, he was up for a few hours in the middle of the night. He urinated two times this day. Very dizzy. Needed help walking to bathroom.
  3. Tuesday (2/6)–Wakes feeling a little better. Fever hovers around 101 to 102 all day without fever reducer. At 8:10 am, while lying down, a nose bleed starts. Nose bleeds are difficult given his clotting disorder (not hemophilia). It took one hour to quell bleeding. Two times in the two hours thereafter, the clot was disrupted and we had more bleeding, but both were resolved in 20-30 minutes. This took us up to about 11 am. Slept most of afternoon. Woke up with fever down to 100 degrees. Yay. My husband came home from work early to spell me. Yay. And was here in time to witness and clean up the vomit of mostly blood and water. Child spends evening panicked about throwing up again. 3rd day with virtually no food.
  4. Wednesday (2/7)–Sleeps in as possibility of school is still out. Nose bleeds starts almost immediately upon waking. Bright red blood all over our light colored, eco-friendly wool carpet. My husband had only just pulled out of driveway. Called him back to deal with nosebleed while I scrubbed all of the blood spots on the carpet with mineral water (very very useful in getting out blood stains). Fever down to 99.0. Mostly a better day with some appetite returning. Cough begins late in day. Because my son has asthma, we started him using his nebulizer. Anxiety about potential of returning to school the following day (yes, this child also suffers from anxiety) and so he was very late falling to sleep. Peaceful sleep, however, once sleep comes.
  5. Thursday (2/8)–at least so far. Wakes up late. I let him sleep in (for him, this is 7:45 or 8). Wakes up with quite a cough. No fever. Use nebulizer. Almost normal appetite. No nose bleed. Yay! Epsom salt bath in warmest water he can tolerate to help start clearing toxins out and loosen lungs.
  6. Friday (2/9)–Cough begins and lasts about one week
  7. Thursday (2/15)–Josh comes home with plugged right ear (surgery ear) and cannot hear out of that ear.
  8. Tuesday (2/20)–See ENT. Ear looks fine from outside. She wants to order MRI if his hearing doesn’t return in a week or so.
  9. Monday (2/26)–Ear begins to clear up.
  10. Monday (3/3)–decent enough hearing test. No MRI ordered.



I’ve been very mindful this week that my Great Aunt Teresa died 100 years ago, of the 1918 flu epidemic. I’m grateful for life, mine and my lovelies.



January 2016: Gratitude

I know it’s only the 21st, but I am already eager to put this month behind me. It’s been another month of ear issues (both ears this month) for Josh and we are not sure exactly what’s going on. We haven’t been able to get his ears stable enough/healthy long enough for even an audiology evaluation since October. He just finished up another course of strong, broad spectrum antibiotics. I have an essay coming out soon in The Mighty that will shed some light on how I feel about our latest run in with antibiotics.

In light of all of this, it is time for some mood-boosting gratitude.

  1. There is an owl living in one of the large pine trees behind my house. I hear him hooting each night at about 5:30 pm (dusk here in Minnesota in January) and sometimes just before dawn. I went out into the woods behind my house on Sunday, with my long wool coat over my PJ’s–it was ten below zero at the time, and I listened just below the tree. I cannot tell you what a singular thrill it is to hear an owl up close. But then, he decided to swoop down on some prey and I saw his wings spread over me (I wasn’t the prey). It will likely be one of the most awe-inspiring moments of my life. I feel most protective of this owl and sometimes I fancy the owl is protecting me.
  2. I’ve finally set up my own writing room in the upper level of my house. It is a light, airy space. It is a piece of heaven in my own home.
  3. Trampled by Turtle’s song “Duluth,” which gets me through these cold winters. “Still I like the quiet/Of Duluth in the winter/In the sacred bond/There’s no place like home.”
  4. The rosary. I’m not Catholic, but I’ve had lots of Catholics in my life, including my dad’s whole family. All of my kids have spent time in Catholic schools; now, Josh joins the ranks. He’s learned to pray the rosary. I’m learning too. I’ve thought much about how Mary was acquainted with this experience of watching her child suffer. I feel a kinship with her when I pray the rosary. Although, I’m not sure I’m doing it right, maybe “right” doesn’t matter so much as the act of saying this prayer with a willing heart.
  5. I was given the guidance to get my hands on a copy of Paul Kalanithi’s book When Breath Becomes Air. I elevated this book above the waiting 25 or so books on my “to read” list. I read this book in less than 24 hours; I will read this book again. It is a magnificent, life-changing read. I thank Paul for leaving behind surgery to write before he passed away last March. God be with you, Dr. Kalanithi. You’ve made a huge difference in how I view life, God, vocation, the act of writing, and how I view my son’s doctors and surgeons (I think I wanted them to be small gods–now I realize it can never be so; God can use members of the medical profession, but they will never be perfect, as life will never be perfect).
  6. My thesis project seems to be falling into place, during this second semester of thesis writing; and I have a new blog to support the putting of my thesis out into the world, when it is time. See www.heidifettigparton.com.
  7. I get to see the below view when I leave my local food co-op; even beautiful on cold winter mornings.


The Cold

I am not ensconced in a sheath of
soft red velvet
but in slow-moving, thick
white mucus
that makes everything turn into
irrelevant dollops
of time pressing onto vast fields
of nothingness
until this ear thump, throat scratch,
jelly swallow
subsides and I can once again use
language as
a person who is moving forward
with life.

Heidi Fettig Parton

(first published on my experimental blog: http://www.thewednesdaypoet.blogspot.com.


Contemplating Tongue Amputation

“Do we have anything to drink in this car,” my almost five-year old, Josh, asks from his car seat as we pass by shoulder-high cornfields.

“Nope,” I answer loudly because my son is hearing impaired and it’s difficult for him to hear my voice in the car.

“Huh?” he says.

“No, we don’t,” I say, taking care to enunciate my words. We’re on our way home from the grocery store. I am hoping he doesn’t remember that we bought him strawberry kefir. I don’t want to pull over by the side of the road to access the back of my Subaru wagon.

Instead he tells me, “Only one other option then, which is to cut off my tongue.” Yes, he has hearing loss, but thanks to lots of early intervention and a vault-like memory, he is also highly verbal.

“Oh,” I say. “Trust me. I’ve considered that option . . . but I’ve decided that I need my tongue.”

Recently, I have given serious contemplation to tongue amputation because, two weeks ago, my dentist was prepping the last molar on my lower right for a crown. She shot Septocaine directly into my trigeminal nerve. No stranger to dental work, I managed to breathe through it. With the second injection, however, a mild electrical current reverberated across the right side of my tongue. I told the dentist, “I felt the anesthesia go into my tongue. I’ve never felt that before.” She assured me this was normal. She waited another minute or two before attempting another injection, which my hand reflexively swatted away as soon as the tip of the needle penetrated my skin.

I put my hand on the lower right side of my face. “It felt like you just dropped acid across my face.” She assured me that nothing hit my face, showing me that only the tiniest bit of solution had been released from her injection gun. She suggested that we delay the crown prep for another day. Eager to escape her office, I agreed.

Six hours later, when the rest of the anesthesia had worn off, my tongue remained numb. I called my dentist who suggested we give it more time. Forty-eight hours later, and still numb, my dentist finally admitted my nerve had sustained damaged but that, sometimes, it will repair itself. Sometimes? Sometimes?

It’s now been 238 hours and I still can’t feel my tongue. I’ve learned that the tip of my tongue no longer feels the food stuck between my teeth, so I walk around with leafy greens brightening my smile. But even though it doesn’t work as well as it used to, I still need my previously underappreciated, now defective, tongue to help me chew food and talk properly.

I look into the rearview mirror, so he can read my lips as I speak, and say, “Without your tongue you could only say, ‘I wuv you mom.’ You need your tongue to pronounce the ‘L’ sound.” And that’s good enough for him. He decides to keep his tongue as I have decided to keep mine, even if it is far less operational than 244 hours ago.

A recent self-portrait
A recent self-portrait

A sacred vision is something you win through deep initiations, painful endurance of illness and setbacks, and a willingness to take life on rather than avoid it.

Thomas Moore


One-Year Since Last Diflucan

No shortage of interesting chalk art on our sidewalks this summer.
No shortage of interesting chalk art on our sidewalks this summer.

I have suffered from yeast/candida overgrowth as long as I can remember–at least since puberty. It used to take the form of vaginal infections but at some point in my twenties, about a year after child # 2 was born with a nasty case of thrush that lasted about six months, my candida overgrowth took up residence in my mouth. At first, the doctor’s fought it with liquid nyastatin, an anti fungal, which eventually triumphed over the thrush in my son’s mouth. For me, it never worked for long. Somewhere in my early thirties, however, my new doctor suggested trying Diflucan, an oral anti-fungal in a pill form. Whenever I took a Diflucan, it always seemed to knock out my thrush within 24 hours. But the thrush always came back. It got to the point where my doctor gave me a 12-15 count refill at the time of my annual physical so I could just go to the pharmacy and get a Diflucan whenever my mouth started to grow fuzzy and white (and sometimes itch). It was a good day when the pharmacy would allow me six pills at a time–not that I’d take them all at once but it kept me from having get to the pharmacy every time I needed a pill.

I even took Diflucan a few times during my pregnancy with J. I wasn’t cleared for the first trimester, but as soon as my second trimester hit, my midwife gave me the go ahead to take a Diflucan because I was convinced my out-of-control thrush was, at least in part, causing the crazy, awful morning sickness (that lasted all day and night), which I never experienced with my first two. All in, I took three Diflucan pills while pregnant. Not long after J. was born, Diflucan was found to cause some birth defects. As I understand it, it is no longer given to pregnant women. It is hard for me to now not wonder if somehow the Diflucan interfered with the proper development of J.’s middle ears and molars.

In the years following J’s birth, I began to notice that I would feel extremely run down after taking Diflucan. Perhaps this was merely a yeast die off reaction. (Lately, I’ve learned to not discount symptoms as mere die off reactions–not everyone is strong enough to detox). Overtime, my symptoms upon taking Diflucan were nearly as uncomfortable as just living with the thrush. I began to experiment with going longer and longer without taking the dreaded drug. Early last June I spent some time in a hot tub, which I’ve long known is a total “no no” for me, along with scented bath oils and soaps. Within days (or hours) I had total yeast overgrowth in my mouth and vaginal area. Fun times. I had been reading about the battle against yeast in one of the many “Kill the Yeast” type of books that I have in my library. This book instructed doctors to prescribe numerous rounds of Diflucan, day after day for weeks, to ensure that all of the yeast is killed. At that time, I had a small stock pile of Diflucan pills saved up from extending the time between doses. I decided to self-prescribe a mounted daily attack on enemy yeast (don’t stop reading here and try this same thing at home). So on June 6th I took one Diflucan and on June 7th, I took another. And on June 8th, I couldn’t get out of bed. I cannot really describe how bad I felt but it was likely the worst I’ve ever felt. Ever. I couldn’t tolerate light, I was so weak I could hardly stand, my head was in such pain I wanted to amputate it, and my digestive track made sure that I did in fact have to manage to crawl to the toilet every hour or so. I could hardly drink water even. I was more exhausted than I’d ever felt and yet, couldn’t really sleep. It felt the life force leaving me. I knew that if I felt that way long-term, I’d want to die. It wouldn’t have been an existence worth maintaining. Fortunately, Hannah was around to help out and between Hannah and Chris, the care of Josh was covered for a few days. Chris would sit by my bedside and say things about going to the doctor, but I couldn’t move and felt like doctors had yet to help me with any of this stuff. So I am sure that the yeast experts would tell me that I was experiencing extreme die-off symptoms (and I even thought that at the time) but even if this were the case, I am pretty sure that place I found myself one June 8-10 of last year was not healthy or desirable, even in the name of killing off yeast ( I’ll get into this more extensively in my next blog post).

On the first day that I felt well enough to get out of bed for a few hours, I went to a chiropractor that I had met at a yoga training about six months earlier. After a weekend spent in Yin Yoga training together, she took me aside and told me that she thought I was in adrenal fatigue. I discounted her diagnosis at the time, but had in fact spent the last 6 months watching my energy dip lower and lower. When I raised this with my MD, she offered anti-depressants. I was quite certain I wasn’t depressed (been there, done that in my twenties). In my desperation (and my frustration with all of the MDs who had failed me), I took the first appointment at this chiropractor’s office that morning. After about an hour of telling her my history and crying about how hopeless I felt, she told me that Diflucan actually is sort of like an antibiotic. It goes to work and kills fungus but it also wipes out all the good stuff that you need as well. She told me to stop taking Diflucan, even if I did nothing else. Well I didn’t do nothing else. I’ve done a ton else (will give detailed report out in near future post). I’ve gone to lengths I never thought possible to try to get my health back. I feel like I am getting closer on that front, but still not there. At the very least, however, I do believe I understand my yeast issues better than any medical doctor has, including the medical doctor I began seeing last November (’13) who also practices functional medicine. She too wanted me to take a two-week course of Diflucan. I am so glad I didn’t. I am so glad I stood my ground. And now, I am happy to say that I am one-year clean of Diflucan today. A small victory, but a victory nonetheless.