Last Monday I received a call from the elementary school nurse. Annabel was in her office, complaining of a bad headache, lethargy, and body aches. I picked her up from school, and when we got home she went straight to her bedroom and slept for hours. The next morning, she had a bit of a fever, so I kept her home. But by the afternoon, her fever was gone and she was up playing with James and running around. I sent her to school the next day and everything was fine through the week. Until Saturday. deja vu

The weather has been very windy and dry here the last two weeks, and I’ve woken up with a headache almost every morning. So when Annie said on Saturday morning that she had a headache, I was sympathetic but not too concerned. Then she asked to take a nap, which immediately made my Spidey sense tingle. When she woke up, she had a 103 fever. Damn it. Off to Urgent Care.

The nurse at the Urgent Care took Annie’s vitals and immediately noticed that she had a very rapid heartbeat, far above normal. The doctor decided to administer an EKG, do blood work, and give her the rapid strep, flu, and mono tests, “just to rule everything out.”

She was so brave during the blood draw — something she’d never had done before — and was rewarded with a popsicle, which also had the intended effect of bringing down her temperature a bit.

blood work reward

Annie was also brave during the EKG. Anyone who’s had one knows they aren’t painful, but when you’re seven years old and you have to get a bunch of cords stuck onto your body it’s hard not to be freaked out. She was a champ.


Unfortunately, her EKG didn’t look “totally normal,” so they sent the results to a pediatric cardiologist. While that was happening, the rapid tests came back showing positive for strep. That blew my mind because she hadn’t once mentioned a sore throat.

The pediatric cardiologist asked for chest x-rays, so the doctors quickly obliged. The x-rays revealed Annie had pneumonia! Annnnd, because nothing is ever easy, the pneumonia was in two parts of her lung, making it hard for the doctors to get a good look at her heart. BECAUSE OF COURSE.

At this point, the doctors started saying stuff like, “admit her for observation,” “enlarged heart,” “strep might be in her bloodstream attacking her heart,” and her blood work showed a very high white blood cell count and very low sodium levels. After MUCH hemming and hawing and consulting and more hemming and hawing, the doctors decided that Annie could go home on Saturday night as long as Mike and I watched her closely and promised to bring her back in first thing in the morning. AND they wanted to give her an antibiotic shot before she was released. Poor Annie.

I was really glad she got to come home but needless to say, Mike and I didn’t sleep much. Mike had gone semi-catatonic when they brought up heart issues, but I was fine until they said she had pneumonia. That’s what Madeline had when she died. And while Annabel is obviously older and stronger, it’s hard not to freak out when one of your kids is diagnosed with the same illness that killed your first child. It brought up so many horrible memories.

breathing treatment

On Sunday, we took Annie back to urgent care for more blood work and another EKG. The blood work showed that she was improving, with her white cells and sodium going in the right directions (yay!) but her EKG was still concerning (boo). They gave Annie more antibiotics, a breathing treatment, and an inhaler, and they gave me strict instructions to take her to her primary care doctor the next day.

Dr. Looove is always gonna be #1 in my heart. She is the best family doctor ever. After looking at all of Annie’s test results, including her EKG and chest x-ray, she prescribed Annie a stronger antibiotic (to really attack the pneumonia, which is in two parts of her lung), breathing treatments, and rest. She was mildly concerned about her heart, and wants Annie to come back in after her course of antibiotics so she can get a better look at what’s going on there.

My girl has been such a trooper through it all. She’s had to miss school and softball, which was really hard for her. But I’m so happy that she’s getting stronger every day. The sparkle is back in her eyes. Every day she breathes a bit easier. I do, too.

(And don’t even get me started on James, who decided to FAINT on Tuesday. Someday I will recover, I swear.)