The girls napped on the plane, ate some food (I won’t admit what food), and we listened to songs from Trolls on the drive to the ski resort. M had been fighting a cold, but she seemed in good spirits when we arrived, so I was relieved. The girls didn’t sleep well that night, but we attributed that to a long day of travel. On our first full day there, M had a great day at snowboarding school. E fussed at daycare, but that was to be expected as it was her first time in a daycare setting coupled with the poor sleep the night before.
The next morning, I woke up realizing E had slept all night. Success! We were adjusting to the high altitude, the time change and the weather! I went to pick her up and realized she was burning hot. Luckily, for the first time on one our vacations, I happened to bring a thermometer, so I checked E and learned she had a 104 degree fever. I called my husband into the room and told him worriedly about her fever. He replied, “Does this mean you’re not snowboarding today?”. I said I wasn’t and got ready for a day of cuddling with E.
This was the first time E had gotten a high fever - any fever at that. Whenever M had fevers, she would continue to play, so I didn’t usually feel the need to medicate her. I just let the fever fight whatever virus was going through her. E was different. She was fussy; she refused to eat or drink; and, at times she seemed exhausted and stared off into the distance. I became so worried just looking at her. I gave her acetaminophen, which helped the fever, but then the fever returned as soon as it wore off. She slept a lot that day, and we took a walk outside, thinking, hoping some fresh air might cool her off. That night she went to sleep with a cough and congestion, and I stared at her in her crib watching her chest rise up and down.
The next day, I crossed my fingers for a well baby, but alas I was met with high fevers, fussiness, and cold symptoms again. It was day two of the fever, but it felt like it had been 10 days. This time, I spent much of my day with E in the hotel room. I took her shirt off and stared at her breathing. She seemed to be breathing more rapidly than she typically did. I racked my brain - was this from the high altitude? Was it because of the fever? Does she have pneumonia? I stared at her, and I even tried to listen to her back with my ear to see if I could hear anything. I watched as the fevers went down to see if her breathing changed, but it was so hard to tell. All I knew was that I had a miserable baby on my hands.
That day, as E napped, I tried to figure out my next steps, “Do I take her to urgent care? IS there an urgent care here? Can I find a pediatric urgent care? Wait, it’s only day two of the fever. Do I watch and wait?,” I thought to myself. I continued to stare at my poor baby and expressed my thoughts to my husband, who replied with his usual response whenever I asked his opinion about the girls -- “Well, you’re a pediatrician. What would you say to do?” I harrumphed as I continued to watch E, and decided to watch her the rest of that day. I thought about how as a pediatrician if I had a patient who came in with a fever for two days with cold symptoms and no other findings, I would probably advise the parent to continue to monitor the child for a few more days, and so that’s what I did.
On the third day, I held my breath as I walked over to her crib. I was so thankful when I realized that E’s fever finally broke! I definitely danced around the room in relief with our four year old daughter cheering along with me, although I’m sure she did not know for what. E continued with her cold symptoms for several more days, but I breathed a huge sigh of relief that day, and was so thankful she was improving.
It is so difficult when your child is sick and miserable, and being away from home made it even harder. Sometimes, it’s hard to stop and think about my medical training when my child is sick. I didn’t have the security of my stethoscope or otoscope to evaluate her if I wanted to, and I was lucky I even had a thermometer on hand. You can be sure that from now on, that thermometer is following me, and acetaminophen and ibuprofen will be on hand!!