I’ve had a happy camping post planned for over two weeks now, and a Halloween one in my mind too.  I just haven’t gotten around to posting either of them yet, and now instead of a happy, life with baby post, I have something a little more raw to offer. 
I will, however, break up the not-so-happiness of this post with Halloween pictures
Without weekly therapy sessions to constantly remind me of Juniper’s lymphedema, and now especially that the weather is cooler, and with the wrapping and massage now being our normal, it’s kind of easy to forgot about it.  Maybe the forgetting about it made me lazy, or complacent, I’m not sure.  Last Friday afternoon, after Daniel packed up for a weekend trip with his dad and brother, I had to take Juniper to the ER because I suspected that she had cellulitis in her leg. 

I’d seen a little red dot on her thigh for a day or two, but I didn’t do anything about it.  I didn’t put Neosporin on it like you’re supposed to, I didn’t circle the area with a pen to see if it was getting bigger, I just ignored it like I would if I had something similar on my own body.  Well, my body and Juniper’s body don’t work the same way.  I can get cuts, scrapes, and bites without them turning into a major, rapidly spreading infection; Juniper can’t.  I am hardly a germophobe.  I get a little obsessive about hand washing when my students are sick, but beyond that I don’t really worry too much about dirt.  As with all aspects of parenting, Juniper is teaching me that I need to change my tune a little bit. Maybe the cellulitis would have happened even if I put some Neosporin on that little red dot, maybe it wouldn’t have.  I do know that because of my wanting to avoid putting antibiotic ointment on every little abrasion I now have a five-month old on a healthy dose of Kelfex for the next week.  Hindsight being 20-20 definitely makes me see that perhaps my apprehension over using Neosporin was a little misguided. 

We ended up at the ER after a series of events that would have perhaps been comic if they hadn’t been so un-funny.  Like I said, I noticed the red spot on Juniper’s thigh for a few days, but it didn’t change, so I thought all was fine.  On Friday when I picked her up from work and changed her diaper, I saw that there was no longer just one dot, but many dots, along with general redness and the area was hot.  I spent a few minutes wishing it away and telling myself it was no big deal before I faced the situation at hand:  I would be driving off the mountain to see a Dr. at our ped’s office, an urgent care, or the ER.  After one really unhelpful receptionist and one more helpful receptionist, we were on our way off the hill to a unknown destination.  Long story short: we ended up at the ER because of the time and insurance, where I got to pay my pretty expensive ER copay to tell the doctor what was wrong with my daughter so we could get a prescription for antibiotics. 

It’s not that the ER staff were unhelpful, they were helpful, but lymphedema is a rare thing to begin with, and pretty much unheard of in a baby. 

Being an advocate for a little person who can’t advocate for herself is hard work, and I’m not so good at it yet.  At our four-month well baby visit I spoke with our pediatrician about having antibiotics on hand in case of cellulitis, but I didn’t demand it, and we didn’t get the prescription.  It’s funny, because I was worried that I wouldn’t know what to look for if she did get cellulitis.  I think I don’t give myself enough credit, because on Friday it was obvious to me that cellulitis was beginning.  I did google it, and the images were pretty spot on for what Juniper’s leg looked like.  We have our six month(!) well-visit coming up this month and I am going to demand that we be given a prescription for antibiotics to have on file so that we do not have to repeat Friday’s events again.  We are so trained to be nice and polite all of the time, and it’s really hard to break those habits- especially with doctors who are supposed to be the experts.  I really like our pediatrician, and he is totally open to us, and knows that he doesn’t know everything about lymphedema, but it is still hard to be pushy.  So basically I failed my daughter in this case because I’m not clean or pushy enough. 

Juniper is doing fine, it was actually only after she'd been on antibiotics that I realized how un-fine she had been acting for a few days.  She is such a happy baby that her being fussy is very low on the fussy scale, and I kind of thought she was teething.  Looking back, I realize that something else (cellulitis) was going on, and she is obviously feeling much better now.  
Daniel ended up looking like a Jesus/Dumbledore hybrid, but I think Juniper's nest stroller made up for it.
Photo by B. McMenamin
She's off the antibiotics now, and I have to say that I am incredibly thankful for modern medicine, which I definitely have not always been.  I am having a hard time not rushing out to buy fish antibiotics to stockpile for the apocalypse, but that, friends, is another post for another time.