Monday, 23 April 2012

A cold, flu and a severe case of googlitis

What a challenging few days these have been.

On Wednesday afternoon we took Aisha (2) to the doctor, who diagnosed a viral flu. Since the cause of her illness was not bacterial, we were not to treat it with antibiotics, but had to focus, instead, on treating the symptoms (fever, nasal congestion and slight phlegmy cough).

The doctor also noted, while doing a routine exam of her abdomen (pressing down with her fingers), that Aisha's liver was still quite prominent, i.e. it could still be felt with the hands when pressing down. According to her, this was unusual for a child older than 2, since the liver moves upward behind the ribcage at that age.

She said that we should come back in two weeks to see if it had reduced in size, as the enlarged liver could be a result of the viral infection. If it is still enlarged by then, we would be referred to a paediatrician who would do scans and the necessary tests for liver disease. She pointed out that Aisha was, in fact showing no obvious signs of liver problems, like yellow eyes, vomiting; which did very little to appease the panicked voices screaming in my head while I tried to maintain a semblance of calm.

But for the next few days Aisha's persistent fever and new symptoms (lethargy, diminished appetite, crabbiness, worsening phlemy cough) kept me from dwelling on that scary bit of information for too long. When we noticed that, despite receiving her regular dose of paracetamol (in the form of Stopayne), alternated with mefenamic acid ( in the form of Ponstel), her fever failed to break even momentarily by Saturday morning, we took her back to the doctor. 

The doctor, upon doing another check-up, noted that she had now developed an ear infection (in both ears) and bronchitis. At this point she was satisfied that an antibiotic would be appropriate. (I appreciate her reluctance to prescribe antibiotics because I have heard of doctors who prescribe antibiotics at the drop of a hat)

Trying to appear calm and not as if I was about to burst into tears, I asked for more information on the enlarged liver. She said that it was already less prominent than it had been a few days earlier. I wanted more detail on what her concerns were - what was the worst case scenario? I informed her that I had googled 'enlarged liver in two year olds' and had burst into tears at the results.

She warned against using the internet to diagnose diseases. A few years ago people had been joking that the internet would be putting many doctors out of business, since people could diagnose and treat their own diseases using the net. Ironically, she said, doctors' businesses have boomed as a result of the internet, as people are terrified into thinking they have dangerous life-threatening diseases when they enter their symptoms into the search engines. Harmless heartburn often is escalated to become terrifying heart-attacks to the poor patient. 'Googlitis' can be harmful, as one's state of mind (believing one is sick) can end up influencing one's reality (one's physical state).

For now though, I'm setting those fears aside to focus on dealing with Aisha's flu /bronchitis /ear infections and their accompanying tantrums. And the fact that Shakeel too seems to have a bug, but I have absolutely no time or energy to deal with him. My response to his painful pitiful groaning is to point him to the medicine cabinet with the instruction to take 1 panado and 1 lactovita probiotic capsule. My poor poor darling. I wish I was a bit better at this balancing act.

Thankfully Aisha's fever has broken; I'm praying that her chest and nose will clear - hopefully the ear infection will clear soon too. My passionate prayer is that her liver is normal and that she is restored to health completely. I pray that that her terrifying tantrums will vanish and that my delightful darling will re-emerge. Insha-Allah. 


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