My JRA Heros

My JRA Heros
My JRA Heros- Jake & Hannah

Friday, March 11, 2011

Rotavirus Hits The Sloan Siblings......

The day started off perfectly! We were headed to Orlando for our " JRA Family Picnic".  Jake and Hannah were excited to see their friends and meet a few new friends who also have JRA.  We could not have asked for a better day, weather was perfect, good food,and great company.  CamoKids team was recognized with trophies for raising more than $10,000 in 2010 Arthritis Walk.   Several hours passed as all of us mom's and dad's sat along the benches talking away while our kids played and shared similar stories to each other.  After a few hours, it was time to say good bye and head home.  It was a long hour and 20 minutes home....Hannah fussed and cried almost the entire way home about her tummy hurting.  This is nothing unusual-- her tummy is often a area that is very painful and after increased activity it seems to hurt even more.  

After an hour of being home----- Rotavirus kicked in high gear and didn't stop!  Hannah first had diarrhea and then she talked about her tummy hurting and how it was grumbling loud.  Of course this all had to start at bedtime- everyone is tired and I hadn't even unpacked from our Washington DC trip. Within minutes from her first episode of diarrhea , the vomiting began and continued for 19 hours straight. Poor Hannah threw up every 5-15 minutes throughout the entire night and Sunday morning. She was so sick, weak and exhausted.  Many times she was having diarrhea and throwing up at the same time.  Of course, fever always comes with illness.  When my husband finally got home (worked 24 hours then goes straight to church) I called the pediatrician.  He recommended me taking Hannah to the Emergency Room if it didn't slow down within the next 3-4 hours.  Nothing slowed down and I wasn't able to get any fluids to stay down more than 5 minutes. My husband and I made the decision to go ahead and take her to the emergency room for IV fluids and meds to help her to stop vomiting.  As I was carrying her to the car-- she rolls her eyes back and tells me "she can't move her fingers and they were tight". I looked at them..... I panicked!  I yelled for my husband to come.....neither one of us could open her fingers, they were so contracted and very tightly closed in her palm of  her hands.  Then she opens her eyes and says in a panicked voice, "Mommy, it's happening to my feet and knees, too".  She begs for me to stop it from happening.   I had no idea what was going on...... I thought to myself, did she have a stroke on me?

I couldn't get to the emergency room fast enough.  She was in/out of consciousness in between throwing up on route to the ER.  Luckily, the staff was kind and let us go directly to a room without any wait.  The usual questions are asked, medications discussed and it was obvious I should have been here many hours ago.  Nurses had a difficult time starting a IV to administer  fluids and zofran for nausea.  On a good day, Hannah has bad veins and this is always challenging for nurses to start IV's.  Finally, after several attempts.... IV started to initiate blood draws and get some fluids in her. Rectal swabs needed to properly diagnosis what we now know was rotavirus. (Hannah didn't like this- but who would?)  Meanwhile, the doctor examined Hannah and asked me how I felt about sending her to Shands for hospital admission??  I assured her LRMC  will be able to give her fluids and she'll be fine.  Within an hour, the doctor shared with me that she was positive for Rotavirus and needs to be admitted.  By now.....Hannah is finally resting and the vomiting has slowed down. 

I was ok with rotavirus...but wanted answers  as to why did her hands and feet contract up so tightly?? This was something new  and I had never seen his happen to Hannah.  As more tests came back- it looked like her calcium was low and may have caused tetany. Neurologic symptoms can occur in severe cases of rotavirus which results of electrolyte imbalance (i.e., low calcium).   Hannah was given calcium, potassium in her IV as we wait for a bed available in pediatric unit.

As the doctor kept checking on her, she explained more about rotavirus to me.  It was then that I figured that Jake has it, too.  Jake hadn't been feeling well, abdominal cramps, throwing up after some meals and diarrhea. I totally contributed this to his new medications.  I had even researched more about Orencia and figured it was one of those lovely side effects. Jake had his first dose of Orencia about a week and 1/2 ago.  I NEVER thought he had any type of stomach bug or rotavirus.  The guilt kicks in.....and then I look back and feel bad that we walked all over capitol Hill with him complaining about his tummy, came home throwing up and sent him to school the next day. I knew if I kept him at home his teacher or school administration would think I kept him home because he was tired from trip. I find myself constantly evaluating and trying to put pieces together....... Why is it happening? What meds did we change? Is this part of JRA or something else?  This time I was absolutely wrong- had no idea Jake was sick and positive for rotavirus!

The norm to expect from rotavirus is fever and vomiting for 2-3 days, then diarrhea for the next 4-5 days. The virus typically lasts 10 days.  The common treatment is simply to replace fluids and electrolytes.    Dehydration is the biggest concern for the children  without any other medical issues.  For children like Jake and Hannah who have a immunodeficiency, it  may cause persistent infection lasting for weeks to months. This is exactly what Jake and Hannah's pediatrician shared with us-- it can take several weeks before kids are back to themselves, expect decreased appetite.  And what always comes with a common illness..... A JRA fare-up!   There is a rotavirus vaccine, but this is one of the many that Jake and Hannah can NOT have ever because of the medications they both take and because of immunodeficiency diseases. 

Hannah's favorite visitor- her brother, Jake!

Four days  later, Hannah was discharged from hospital.  Happy to return to home, but still not feeling the best! Jake returned to school, per doctor's advice.  We certainly hope we didn't share this virus with any friends at school or especially our JRA  family and friends.  These poor kids have such a suppressed immune system, not as easy to fight a common cold or flu or a virus like this one.  Nobody wants to have rotavirus, I am sure of that!

Hannah was happy to be headed home!


  1. Heidi, I am so glad she is home. I am so sorry she went thru all she did. Do NOT blame yourself, not ONE BIT! You are a FABULOUS MOM! God has a plan, I have no idea what it is, but His faith in YOU and in BOBBY to be the BEST PARENTS to 2 of his angels with JRA is all the evidence needed that you never need to second guess yourself. God certainly isn't second-guessing you! We love all of you and are blessed to have you in our lives.

  2. Oh, Heidi. What a horrible week! Don't be so hard on yourself. Our kids are much bigger mysteries than other kids. Emily had H1N1 the first summer that it was around. I'm not sure how long she had it before Zach got sick, but I had no clue that she was sick. I took her to the doctor for Tamiflu because Zach was positive for it. Our kids are so much stronger than other kids, and so much more complex. You are an amazing mother, & you give your children the world. You couldn't expect to be perfect *all* of the time :) I think you're wonderful, and you have a beautiful heart. We have been blessed to know you & your little people!!! I hope that this week is a much, much better one for all of you!!!

  3. Heidi~ WOW I knew it was bad, but didn't realize the complexity of it--ROTO-VIRUS!!!! Wilmasue is absolutely right on--PLEASE don't kick yourself for "what you could of done or didn't do" You DID do what you knew best at the time, and especially for yourself to be exposed to all that too--is a huge Motherly sacrifice with your own health concerns. For you to eliminate all the possible causes, is a natural course of what you do daily, so just leave it up to God to give you the guidance to react when the time is necessary (He trusts you to do that)--every day you are learning how to do unique things. See things worked out and Hannah got what she needed (lot's of pretty flowers. :) lol) :) I pray the post roto infections or JRA reactions will be short and minimal, and that you or Bobby don't have it either. Thanks for sharing such an exhaustingly scary week. <3 YOU and the family!

  4. It is unbelievable how fast things can take a turn. You are one of the most amazing moms I know and you have the ability to think things through and process so much information. You did all you could do and I know Hannah is ok because you did what you needed to do. Jake too. Tons of love to you. And more hugs for you, Bobby, Jake, and Hannah.

  5. Aw Heidi I can't imagine how scary that had to have been :"( Your family is so amazingly strong. So happy to hear that everyone is doing better, not great, but better. We take what we can get, right?