My Story of Getting Her Better: Part One

I have a sickly kid.

If there is a germ in existence, she is licking it. If there is some kooky health issue, she’s had it.

My daughter has endured a melanoma scare, loss of hair and mono nightmare — all by the age of nine. I’ve pumped her up with antibiotics, probiotics, ear drops, allergy pills, vitamins, fish oil, protein drinks, melatonin, natural antihistamines, uppers and downers.

Fortunately, it’s all been fixable. I cannot compare her to the young patients I passed in the halls of Children’s Memorial Hospital as I clutched my healthy baby girl. Some children were bald. Some disfigured. Some hooked up to a web of IVs. Being in their presence forever changed my perspective as a mother.

“It could always be worse.”

I tried to focus on that mantra when Missy got sick right before Christmas and passed it on to Junior. Snot, sore throat, cough. This is nothing new. Her allergies to trees and mold typically end up in full-blown sinus infections. (Which I thought would be over when her tonsils/adenoids were removed.) Factoring in that Chicago had such a mild winter and my showers and toilets resemble petri dishes, I figured: this too shall pass.

But it didn’t.

She started off 2012 light-headed, extremely tired and dizzy, plus her stomach hurt. It reminded me of when she had mono but without the sore throat. The pediatrician recommended taking her off her allergy medicine Singulair because it could cause similar side effects. I was kicking myself for not reading the fine print that came with the prescription. If I had paid attention, she wouldn’t be sick.

She did not get better.

As the weeks went on, there were good days and bad. When she wasn’t feeling well, Missy was exhausted and started to resemble an 11-year-old heroin addict. Her face turned ghost-white with deep, gray circles under her tired eyes. She slumped and stumbled. I pulled her out of after-school activities and didn’t let her audition for a play that she desperately wanted to be in with her friends. Both of our hearts were broken, but she was worn down. I needed to get her healthy.

While vacuuming her room, I discovered that the box spring of her bed was disintegrating. It was my old bed from when I graduated college *ahem* 20+ years ago. What kind of mom allows her allergy-prone kid to sleep on a decaying pile of fibers and dust mites? How nasty. I beat myself up. We ordered a new mattress and bought a loft bed that took seven hours for Tom and I to assemble. (We are still married, btw.)

She did not get better.

I headed back to the doctor on a weekly basis with a new theory proposed through Google or desperate conversations with friends. He checked her urine for kidney issues. Nothing. She had three rounds of blood tests that came back negative for mono, celiac disease, autoimmune deficiencies, low vitamin levels, thyroid, anemia and other scary stuff that I didn’t ask about directly. He didn’t know what to tell me except that maybe it was all stress related.

Gee, yes she is stressed from feeling like crap for two months and missing countless days of school and time with her friends!

Back to Google. Maybe something in our old house was making her ill. I met with a furnace fella and introduced him to our Heating Monster from the 1950s. Chuckling at the sight of our dinosaur, he remarked, “We don’t see a lot of these anymore.” He explained that a new system can improve the quality of air by eliminating the mold spores. I can’t believe I didn’t do this sooner — all those years of breathing fungi! It’s no wonder the poor kid feels lousy. I signed on the dotted line to have our ducts cleaned, the furnace replaced and our checking account deducted for the next five years.

And to prove I’m not exaggerating about the age of our furnace, the cleaning crew found this antique toy car trapped in our ductwork:

We had the best filtration system installed along with an ultraviolet light that will kill any mold growth. I was ready to literally breathe a sigh of relief.

She did not get better.

At this point, I realized that chasing a cure was becoming an expensive game of chasing my tail.

And I was losing.

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  1. Amy

    I’m so sorry your daughter is going through this! As a mother of sick children, I totally understand the feelings of guilt and the frustration of not knowing what is wrong. I will add your daughter to our prayer list… and don’t forget to take care of yourself too 🙂

  2. Elene

    OH NO FUN! So sorry for all of you! I feel your pain, having lived it myself, and still living it more frequently than I like. My daughter was found to have low IGA syndrome. Have they checked her immunogobulins? There’s no real cure or treatment but she has been much healthier thanks to Juice Plus fruit and veggie gummies and Reiki. Hang in there and good luck!

  3. Karen

    Thanks, Amy! I just want to fix everything and never search Google again. I am making myself crazy. Well, crazier~

  4. Karen

    I hope your daughter stays healthy — how awful. I know that Missy was tested for autoimmune stuff, but I will double check with our doctor. And you are the second person who told me that Reiki helped their child. Worth looking into to provide some relief. Thanks for your help!

  5. Dena Kolo

    Dani was having severe headaches all day everyday. We tried all sorts of pain relievers, yoga, even did the MRI and physical therapy thing. Nothing worked until we found reiki. Marcia worked miracles on our 1st visit- headache gone!! We continue to go monthly for “touch-ups” but no more headaches.

  6. Kim @The G is Silent

    Oh I’m so sorry Karen!! Keep us updated!!!

  7. T

    You are in our prayers! Hang in there!!!

  8. Karen

    Oh Dena, how scary. I am so glad that you finally found something that works for Dani! It’s so frustrating not having answers and being able to make your child well. I need to pick your brain about this…

  9. Karen

    With all that you’ve been through with Noah, I knew you’d relate. Thanks for your support~

  10. Karen

    Thank you so much. Feeling blessed~

  11. Meg

    Karen and Tom
    So sorry to hear that Missy is not well. Please know that you are all in my thoughts and prayers. I hope at this time she is feeling better.
    love to you all

  12. Arnebya

    Ugh. I wish I had some sound advice to offer some something that would fix this, fix her issues. I got nothin’. And you have to be more gentle on yourself; oftentimes we overlook the obvious things. It’s hard when you get rounds of testing and the doctors are scratching their heads and labeling it stress. I hope Missy gets better soon or that you find out what’s going on so that it’ll lead to her getting better soon.

  13. Karen

    Thank you, Arnebya. You got more than nothin’ — you have compassion!

  14. Karen

    Feeling the love! The thoughts, prayers and positive mojo are working…

  15. dusty earth mother

    Oh, honey. I stopped by to see how you and your girl were doing and found this… I am still praying. For answers. xxxooo

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