Okay, I could use some advice. Let’s say you have a four-year-old who has always been relatively healthy, aside from the usual childhoold viral suspects, and about six weeks ago he and his brother had a tandem night of Fever and Barf, the details of which you are still trying to suppress.

About a week after that, he had another barfing episode, this one even more dramatic in that it very nearly happened in your own bed and involved a truly horrific skidding-through-another-person’s-barf-in-bare-feet incident which, again, you’re really trying to forget except that sometimes when you least expect it you can still feel it. ON THE SOLES OF YOUR FEET.

Anyway! Then every week after that it seemed like someone was sick, your basic snot-nosed October crud that comes and goes and leaves snail-trails across every piece of furniture in the house. But the one thing that the four-year-old keeps complaining about, every week or two, is a headache and stomachache.

So a couple weeks ago you finally drag him to the pediatrician where she examines him and thinks maybe he’s got some leftover tummy irritation, either from the stomach virus stuff or the fever-quelling Motrin, and she prescribes Tums and Zantac. He leaves the doctor’s office seeming perfectly fine, then gets a fever that night which lasts for 48 mysterious hours.

Meanwhile, the toddler gets a fever, then a cold, then a cough—the lovely midnight barf-triggering kind—then seems fine, aside from the torrential mucus downpour erupting nonstop from both nostrils.

And THEN, tonight, the night when you and your husband have tickets to see Louis C.K., which you have been looking forward to all week with the fervent bulgy-eyed gaze of a donkey following a carrot, the four-year-old comes home from school complaining of a headache and stomachache. He collapses on the couch, looking pale and wan, and refuses food.

You cancel the babysitter and mentally kiss the date night and the $65 tickets goodbye. You would like very much to be left alone in a room filled with precious ceramic figurines and a large metal hammer.

Two hours later, the child has devoured a peanut butter sandwich, a glass of chocolate milk, a muffin, and a bowl of applesauce. He is chasing his brother around the room, screeching happily, and chattering about dinosaurs and skateboards. He goes to bed rosy-cheeked and seemingly full of robust health.

SO. My questions are:

• What the HELL? No, seriously: WHAT THE HELL?

• Okay, that wasn’t really a question. How about: should I go back to the pediatrician and just refuse to leave until she/he tells me what the fuck is going on, or what?

• Have any of you dealt with a comes-and-goes kid tummy Thing? Did anything help?

• What’s better for soothing an extremely bitter case of C.K.-related disappointment—ice cream, or salt and vinegar chips? OR BOTH?

Comments

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
93 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ginny
12 years ago

I am not a doctor, nor have I played one on television, but we kind of had a similar thing go on last year with our 3 year old. Turned out it was our house. Had the ducts super duper cleaned, and it got better. Mold, carpet, all kinds of crap can do it.

Or maybe (judging by the fact that he got you to stay home tonight) he’s a diabolical control freak.

Either way, best of luck!

caleal
caleal
12 years ago

When I was six or seven I had a weird stomach problem, that no one knew what it was. I was just nauseous and throwing up a lot, so my mom took me the to the pediatrician, and they had no clue after tons of tests and exams and medicines. Eventually they put me on a VERY restricted diet, which was basically Toast and All Things Toast Related. Long, stupid, still-leaving-me-bitter (seems like everything my parents ate during that time frame was something I adored- this could have been a toast induced haze, though) story short, they never figured out what was wrong, and eventually I could eat food again.

I would maybe try to push the pediatrician a little more. Anything to do with kids and prolonged illness is scary and suspect- I know my mom did not have a fun time with all of that.

Shana
Shana
12 years ago

Here’s my take: I think he’s fighting something bacterial, and the high intensity of the day drags his immune system down. Once he gets home and can get a rest from the bombardment, he is able to function. I would up his intake of sodium ascorbate, along with D3. I would limit dairy (it’s mucous producing), and up his intake of whole, UNprocessed foods, dark and vibrant colored veggies.
Sleep and stress play an important role in healing, but so does the mixture we put into our systems (food and drink, plus supplements).
Garlic does wonders, too. You can even make a garlic oil for ear infections.

I hope they feel better, Linda!

Mary
12 years ago

My first thought – constipation. I once thought my oldest was getting appendicitis, he had a fever and his stomach hurt for days. Took him in, they xrayed him and the poor child was backed up into his throat, practically. Ugh. That was not a pretty xray.

Second thought — a few months ago I really did think my teenager had appendicitis, it was in the right place and the pain was enough to keep him up at night. They did a CAT scan on him, and said the lymph nodes around his stomach were inflamed, and the only cure was to wait it out. It went away after about a month.

Third idea — food allergies? Like gluten or something? You could do some eliminating on your own and see if anything helps.

Shana
Shana
12 years ago

P.S.
Ice cream, but the coconut variety (stay away from dairy, remember?).

Meagan
12 years ago

I can only answer the last question: BOTH obviously. Has he had an eye test? Bad vision could cause comes-and-goes nausia and headaches, couldn’t it? Good luck at any rate…

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

Does he take a probiotic daily? If not I’d start one asap. Good for everyone in the house actually.

elizabeth
elizabeth
12 years ago

I don’t know

Won’t do any good

Anxiety?

Both

Beth
Beth
12 years ago

Our doctor told my mom, when my brother was a in kindergarten, that small children can’t distinguish pain as well as adults. Sometimes a tummy hurting actually means a throat hurting. Turns out, all my brother’s mysterious stomach ails were actually his tonsils. Which were way fucked up and he had to have them removed.

He had been sick with chicken pox, flu, mono, and pneumonia that year. If your kid seems to be getting sick way too much, I’d have his tonsils checked for serious. My brother’s almost exploded.

Michelle
12 years ago

Gah. What a nightmare. For your sanity AND Riley’s I would suggest going back to the pediatrician and being a giant, festering balloon knot until they figure this out.

Have you tried dipping the salt and vinegar chips INTO the ice cream? Because I’ve been known to dip fries in a chocolate frosty when under particularly stressful situations.

Melissa
12 years ago

I have a fabulous pediatrician. My 18 mo old was suffering from the exact same damn thing for pretty much the entire month of October. Her prescription: 1/2 tablet of Gaviscon for the tummy ache (it’s like Malox but it tastes like a fizzy pistachio so the kid likes it AND it’s over the counter) and 1/2 tsp benadryl for the stuffy head. Then wait an hour and double up with the Tylenol and Children’s Motrin (which is to say Tylenol first wait another hour and then Motrin and re-medicate as needed following the waiting between each dose as indicated on the label).

In terms of why/what is happening, she kind of shrugged and said that it’s just Fall and he’s just a kid. Drop a Lysol bomb on your house and keep plenty of Klenex handy.

Good luck!

Rowen
Rowen
12 years ago

You want to smash things? Check out this website:

http://www.smashshack.com/

A ‘healthy’ way to relieve tension. Unfortunatley, I live in Canada so I do the next best thing- take my glass recycling into the depot and chuck it into the bin. >sigh< Makes me feel lighter just thinking about it :)

Maggie
Maggie
12 years ago

Maybe it’s anxiety. Something at school, or perhaps the daily transition of school to home and back again? Or maybe he was legitimately sick the first time, but since then has developed a fear of still being sick, but that doesn’t manifest itself until he is home with Mom & Dad, in a comfortable & familiar place, where his body (much like the headache you get AFTER your work day, when you are actually finally able to relax) finally says, ahhh, comfortable? Familiar? THAT’S MY CUE!

My anxiety as a child manifested itself in tummy aches…to this day, I don’t know why my parents ever allowed me to sleep with a bucket next to my bed for TWO YEARS. Did I ever once throw up during that time? No. As an adult, certain things still trigger that same manifestation of anxiety…and my body has very graciously given in to IBS. It’s all kinds of effed-up the way the human body responds to stress & anxiety. So..perhaps he’s having a hard time at school? Being picked on? Just a thought…

Donna
Donna
12 years ago

Sounds like a sinus infection to me, drainage making him nauseated, headache from pressure and infection, and since like someone else said too, he’s fighting off the bacteria, after he gets a little rest he’s back up rockin. The drainage is also making him cough, and throw up.
He needs a round of antibiotics, a humidifier at night, and decongestants. Trust me on this. Also chicken soup with garlic for the steam, and it won’t hurt if you could get him to drink some juniper berry tea. It has more vitamin C than anything, and tastes sweet.
Just call me Dr. Donna. (Leave out the “thedead” part.)
Trust me on this, and the tea would be good for the whole family. Massive amounts of vitamin c.
I’ll bet you 10 bucks that that is what it is. And all your readers are my witnesses.

Sara C.
Sara C.
12 years ago

I’m sorry about the babies. I have no help there, just commiseration about missing Louis CK. I lurvve him sand was so sad that Lucky Louie only lasted one season. The first time I saw the c*nt episode, I was in a firehouse (I used to be an EMT) with a bunch of dudes. It was, um, uncomfortable.

SW
SW
12 years ago

I agree with Donna on this being possibly, a sinus infection issue. Or allergies that backed up and became a sinus infection. My kiddo and I both battle these same symptoms, though his is much worse. Good luck, and by all means park in the pediatrician’s office, and do NOT wear undereye concealer when you do. Ya gotta prove your point man! You might even push for a quick sinus CT scan if you aren’t getting answers.

Both. Salt & vinegar chips first, then dive headfirst into the tub o’ice cream.

Lesley
Lesley
12 years ago

It sounds like the kids are trapped on a virus-plagued cruise ship with no land in sight. And you guys are their wait staff. Ugh.

Your plan to camp out at the doc’s with an AK-47 until he/she fixes this toddler version of legionnaire’s disease sounds promising. Seriously, that is HORRIBLE.

Re Louis CK Night, I have to ask. Did Riley know you had plans to go out? (I feel sheepish asking, but am wondering if he wanted mom and dad to stay home and has already done the math on the impact of being ill.)

Kristi
12 years ago

OMG, how the hell can you ever really know with a 4-yr old?! They are so vague about “what hurts”, etc.

You know him best – ignore all other advice and go with your gut. Wait it out, dose him up, camp at the dr. – all are good choices. As people have already suggested I’d be inclined to think allergy or tonsils/adenoids (can cause tummy aches too).

GOOD LUCK – I have totally been there with a 4-yr old and IT IS CRAZY MAKING!

Kristi
12 years ago

oh, also I vote for dipping the chips into the ice cream.

Jenny
12 years ago

Maybe make it a little less appealing to be home sick? Not saying he’s faking, but when I was a kid, I did. And my mom combatted it by enforcing serious rules — can’t get out of bed, no TV, no playing, and the only food I could have was water, toast, and chicken broth. After a couple of rounds of that, I magically felt well enough to stay in school all day, every day.

Now, if you think it really is something physical, by all means, woman, beat down the doors of every pediatrician in town until you get an answer. I have never bought into the whole “Kids just get sick” line of BS (nor do I agree with medicating the bejeebus out of a 4-year-old’s symptoms unless you know for sure what’s causing those symptoms). There IS an answer to this, whether it’s diet, or sinuses, or mold in your vents, or whatever.

Shannon
12 years ago

I have been going through this with my 7 year old and the diagnosis was constipation. Her doctor put her on a very small dose of miralax and it has helped.

mandy
mandy
12 years ago

Did he know you guys were going out and that he was gonna have a sitter?? Yeah, I doubt he’s faking it but MANNN I was good at laying it on thick when I knew the folks were leaving and I didn’t want to have a sitter. I’d been sick before, so I KNEW Exactly what it took to pull of a convincing performance, so much so that I actually made myself sick for reals. Not to make you paranoid or anything…

Eric's Mommy
12 years ago

Oh Linda, I am so sorry you are going through this shit!

I could also feel the barf on the soles of my feet. Eric has only gotten a 24 hour stomach bug and it usually happens once a year, with the projectile vomiting. Right now he has a horrible cough, but the school nurse said as long as he isn’t running a fever or has diarrhea he is good to go.

I would go to the Dr. again and tell them how awful this has been, and that it is NOT going away!

As for the C.K. related disappointment, frozen Kit Kats.

Jen
Jen
12 years ago

Could be that the two are really just passing the original illness back and forth to one another. It happened in our house–sickness and barfing went on for a month! I thought it would never end…..

Krissa
Krissa
12 years ago

OMG, coconut ice cream STAT. It’s amazing.

Also – I only have anecdotes to go by, but it seriously could be food allergies. I know that brightens your day more than the sun itself, with the robust eaters in your home, but it might be worth bringing up with the pediatrician.

Tash
12 years ago

My son just had his appendix removed on Tuesday and he’d had a series of tummy aches, occasional loss of appetite and frequent headaches. Have you checked to see if he’s more tender in that area? Drop me a line if you want more details. Suffice it to say, his symptoms were so sporadic and inconsistent I wasn’t sure we’d find an inflamed appendix but we did after all.

Swistle
12 years ago

Both, obviously.

And I think I’d go to the doctor again. And if the doctor said, “Hm, nothing,” I would say in my mousy, tentative way, “Are there any, like, TESTS or anything….?” and trail off like that, hoping the doctor would then have to tell me about the Secret Tests That Diagnose Everything, which they only offer to people who ask.

Jenn
Jenn
12 years ago

We went through that last spring for several weeks. The dr. eventually did a thorough blood test but everything was normal. In the end their best guess was a string of viruses.

penne
12 years ago

Sometimes strep manifests itself with tummy aches and not so much throat-ness in little kids….but my first thought was also constipation, (with a dehydration headache) especially if he’s been at school and doesn’t wanna poop there. Maybe he needs a Gatorade and a bran muffin about 2 every afternoon.

kristylynne
kristylynne
12 years ago

I was thinking maybe sinus infection too? If I were you, I’d at least call the pediatrician and tell them what’s going on and see if they want him to come back in.

Anna
Anna
12 years ago

YES! My daughter had something very similar in winter 2005/2006. Her daycare (and subsequently our doctor) called it a rotovirus, and it came and went and came and went and came again, over a three month period. It seemed to be able to sense when my husband was away and I was on my own, the classic case being a night where he was working late, and the fever, diarrhea and barfing began at 10:00, and we ran out of pull-ups at midnight. I have suppressed memories of a lake of vomit covering our bathroom floor – it was a night I never thought I’d get through.

Sorry, no advice, just sympathy.

Sincerely, Jenni
12 years ago

I gave you an award over at my blog today! Congratulations!

http://sincerelyjenni.blogspot.com/2009/11/i-can-feel-love.html

Amy D
12 years ago

Maybe he just needs more food during the day. That description of him coming home looking wan and collapsing–that’s me after work having a low blood sugar moment. Some fat and protein and a vigorous workout later, and I am in robust good health.

el-e-e
12 years ago

Man, you guys are just in the weeds, aren’t you? Sucks. I’m so sorry.

I think you’ve got some good leads here. Re: sinuses — my girl had those troubles (snot-nose, cough) for 3 weeks, and doc put her on an antibiotic saying to wait another 3 weeks before expecting her to really get better. Sigh. And I know drainage will cause some kids to throw up. :(

Melody
12 years ago

When I was about Riley’s age, I also had stomach aches that constantly came and went. My mom wondered if I could be lactose intolerant, and she stopped making me drink milk. As if by magic, my stomach aches went away!

More recently, in my adult life, I was having mysterious, persistent stomach aches, so I started keeping track of what I was eating, and looking for a connection between my diet and the stomach aches. After about three weeks, I realized that it was soy that was setting me off.

An idea might be to keep track of what he’s eating, and when, and to look for any correlations?

I hope you all are able to catch a break soon!

js
js
12 years ago

The barf? On the soles of your feet? OMG, am HORRIFIED! Almost as bad as the time my nephew had the flu and my SIL had stripped him down to give him a cool bath, kid had to barf, so he leaned over the toilet and she rubbed his back. As he was barfing, he shit. All. Over. Her.

Excuse me, I have to go vomit now.

Also, my answers:
A) More like: WHAT. THE. FUCK?!?!?!
B) I would haul ass to the doctor. Maybe leave the children with her for a week so she can see how nasty it is, then you and JB get lots of date nights.
C) No, no I haven’t. KNOCKONFUCKINGWOOD!
and, 4) Dude, dip those chips in the ice cream. Stat.

Stephanie
Stephanie
12 years ago

Sounds like maybe a food intolerance? Whenever I eat more than a few bites of avocado I am miserable. It’s not a full blown allergy, but it definitely bothers me.

lisak
lisak
12 years ago

I have three thoughts.
1)sinus infection with post-nasal drip
2)allergies with post-nasal drip
3)anxiety
We’ve had various scenarios involving all three at my house over the past several years.
Hope you all feel better soon!

Jen B.
12 years ago

My 16 month old just went through something similar. He had a fever, coughing was lethargic for a few days, then fine for a week then sick again then fine then sick. From what I’ve heard it’s some weird thing going around (meaning, the pediatricians have no clue) that all the little ones are getting and they can’t do anything for.

So, basically I’m of no help but just know that I’ve been there too!

Sara
Sara
12 years ago

Maybe this is a dumb question, but. . . when I don’t eat, *I* get a stomacheache and headache, and am listless and lethargic. Food perks me right up.

Is it possible that he’s skipping lunch at school?

Sorry that you’re going through this — and that it’s happening during cold/flu season, which makes it even rougher to untangle.

kristin
kristin
12 years ago

No good advice (I’m lame like that) but I just wanted to say that I frickin’ LOVE L.C.K.! I have always wondered if you loved him, too — and now I know. And I didn’t even have to be all stalker-y about it and actually ASK you or anything. Woot! Good day for me. :)

Good luck with Riley. Poor kid (and parents)!

Maggie
Maggie
12 years ago

I also am not a doctor but a mother so here are my thoughts, take them or leave them:

1. I will second the constipation idea. My daughter was off an on nauseous for about 2 weeks and she got an xray and was totally backed up. Miralax fixed her right up.

2. Again with the food allergies, but you probably already thought of that one.

3. Does he get migraines? Could be that, my daughter gets quite nauseous with her migraines. There is also rare-ish problem called abdominal migraines, usually in children who also have migraines and they are cyclical bouts of intense abdominal pain and typical migraine meds will help relieve them.

Whatever it is, good luck, I hope it is all better soon. And BTW, thanks for the visual of you sliding across the floor in barf. It is too early in the morning for that.

jen_ann_w
12 years ago

There are a lot of good, reasonable suggestions here! I don’t have kids so I don’t have anything more to suggest beyond what has already been said. But I will say that you definitely deserve better answers from your doctor. If they’re just saying “nothing’s seriously wrong” and not helping you understand WHY or WHAT THE HELL TO DO ABOUT IT then I would consider finding a doctor that does. I hate having an uppity-ass doctor that talks to me like I’m stupid – I’m sure it’s doubly frustrating with kids!

elle
elle
12 years ago

Have you had his eyes checked? When I was having eye problems (needed glasses) it would lead to headaches AND stomach aches, which would come and go depending on what I needed to be concentrating on/looking at.

Erin
Erin
12 years ago

Ok I don’t have children but I have nieces and nephews. My sisterinlaw is one of those organic mother goddess all natural people and basically what she would say is it is his diet. What is he eating, maybe without you knowing? One of the things about all the runny noses and while it works with her kids I don’t know if it will work for yours but at the first sign of one at her house she cuts sugar intake like a mad woman and it usually clears up the snotties within a day or two. Just some randomness~

Jennifer H
Jennifer H
12 years ago

When I was a kid (according to my mom) my allergies made me sick all of the time. I would throw up snot (lovely) and run a fever and then miraculously be well and happy the next. That might also explain why he didn’t want to eat; he’s got a belly full of snot. This might not be the deal with your kids, but you might want to see if it’s a sinus infection or fall allergies.

jessica
jessica
12 years ago

barfing aside, this sounds similar to what we went through with TheGirl the winter before last. we went through months of this before I switched peds and finlly got some answers. turned out thegirl was allergic to basically EVERYTHING IN OUR HOUSE. dust, mold, dander, THE DOGS.

So we took apart our duct work, scrubbed it clean (luckily SO LUCKILY my husband has a general contractor friend and he and two other friends were able to do this in a weekend for us and put it back together) we pulled up carpets and basically scrubbed the house from top to bottom and made a few dietary changes for her…nothing processed, limiting dairy and wheat. I had to do a shit-ton of daily maintence as well, but that was more because we made the choice to keep our dogs.

By Spring things had really turned around, and now two years later she’s basically a healthy kid again with a regualr diet, no resrictions. we just do a super cleaning of the house a few times a year and I vacuum the duct work weekly (I shove the hose with the brush attachment as far down the duct as I can and swirl it around) when she satrts to get stuffy we do saline nasl rinses and she she gets a dose Zyrtec at night.

I’m not sure if that could be the case for you guys since the boys seems to pass it back and forth, but you can always ask to have Riley allergy tested. I wont lie, it’s a total suck-fest with the pricking and poking, but it really changed and improved my kid’s quality of life.

I feel for you, Linda. I really hope you get the answers you’re looking for.

Marie Green
12 years ago

My god, that is simply maddening! I just… I have no idea what I would do. I’d probably be waffling about the doctor: when he was pale and sick-looking I’d be all “this kid is going IN” and then when he was running around I’d be all “well, they probably won’t do anything anyway”.

I do know that my twins barfed quite easily, at any kind of sickness and it also drove me NUTS.

I hope you figure it out. Or that he becomes suddenly and permanently BETTER. Whichev.

Annmarie
Annmarie
12 years ago

Has he had a strep test? When we were on vacation this summer, my 5 year old was up all night w/ stomach pain. We found a local ped who said that it was probably viral. He would be kind of like Riley is, complain of pain for a day or so, then be fine, no appetite, etc. Two weeks later when it was still going on, I took him to our ped. He said that strep throat can sometimes cause stomach pains. The rapid strep test came back negative, but the 24 hour one was positive. He had never even complained of a sore throat or anything. Then of course I had the guilt that he had had it for 2 weeks and I was blowing it off as viral/anxiety.

Marty
Marty
12 years ago

My grandson had a long stretch of stomach aches when he was four. His personality changed, teachers at his school were concerned, he lost weight. Turns out he has celiac disease. With the change in his diet, he is back to his old self again!