October 13, 2008

Quarantine!


"Where's Cameron?" I asked a nurse in the NICU Saturday morning. My son and his crib were M.I.A.

The nurse pointed in direction of a small room attached to the back of the NICU. The one with a sign on its door that read "Quarantine."

"Cool!" I replied before realizing that my son was the one being quarantined.

A few days after Cameron was born, a herd of hematologists took blood samples from both Cameron and me and shipped them off to the CDC in Atlanta. The lab results that came back on Friday night revealed what every doctor told us was "biologically impossible:" namely, that Cameron has active Parvovirus in his body, and so do I. Why Cameron and I are still infected with the virus--six months after exposure to it--is a complete mystery, as the virus is supposed to be cleared from the body within a matter of weeks.

Hey wait! What's Parvovirus? If you don't know, but want to, read one of the following articles.
In descending order of dryness:

http://otispregnancy.org/pdf/fifthdisease.pdf

http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/revb/respiratory/parvo_b19.htm

http://www.aafp.org/afp/991001ap/1455.html

Regardless of how the virus has managed to hang around so long, its presence in Cameron's body goes a long way in explaining why he has had such a tough time since birth; he isn't recovering from the effects of being exposed to the virus in utero, but rather, he is actively fighting off the infection that has grown alongside him (and inside him) since the second trimester.

Although it was the weekend, the hope of a research publication got several few infectious disease experts--and their residents--out of their beds. I was very encouraged when I returned from lunch yesterday to find an immunologist sitting at a computer outside Cameron's room, reading the same articles on the Internet that I had read 20 minutes earlier.

"Please tell me that that is not all there is out there," I said, pointing at the computer.
"Oh no," said the immunologist, holding up a thin stack of papers. "There is this."
She handed me the article she was holding. It was written in Chinese.

To make a long story short, no one knows what to do with Cameron. At this point, there aren't any anti-viral medications that he can be given; he is going to have to fight the infection himself. He is going to be fine in the long run, but since he was sick for so long in utero, it may take awhile for his little body to build up enough strength to kick the virus to the curb once and for all.

As for the reason why the virus was able to outstay its welcome in the first place, we may never know. Hematology's best guess at this point is that one of the immunosuppressants that I took during my pregnancy for my Crohn's may have played a role in lowering my and, by extension, Cameron's resistance to the virus. If this is true, then it is somewhat ironic that the same drugs that enabled me to get pregnant and stay pregnant with Cameron for so long (by repressing my disease) also let an infection rage that almost killed him. For the landmine that we sidestepped one way or another, we are very blessed.

As with all setbacks, there have been unexpected blessings that have come with Cameron's NICU quarantine (Parvovirus is contagious an thus the gowns, gloves, and masks); namely, no one can see what I'm up to in that back room. Devoid of any real supervision (Cameron's nurses are more than happy to pass instructions on how to operate Cameron's machinery to me and Tim through the doorway), I am now free to eat cheese and crackers at my son's bedside (a NICU no-no), examine the contents of the medical supply cart without embarrassment, and read my son's medical charts without impunity.

32 comments

Mrs. P said...

You and Cameron have my prayers! ((()))

Carrie said...

Awww...poor little guy. You guys will continue to be in my prayers.

Kristal said...

he is so cute, prayers for you and your little one.

Mindy said...

Yikes, Jana! I'm glad they think they at least know the problem now. Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Hang in there and thanks for the update!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry that you guys are having a rough time. I'll be praying for you and for Cameron as he fights his monster. Hang in there, girl..

heidicindy

Rachel said...

I'm glad they found the problem, and hoping that Cameron's little immune system rallies and gets rid of it soon!

Sants said...

Nothing like the potential for publication to bring out all the help!

At least they know what is going on. Now, how to fix it ...

rachael said...

wow, that is some crazy news...i am glad that they know what is going on now though! praying that cameron is able to fight this off and join you at home so very soon!

ps - i used to read all 3 of my triplets charts daily when i was in the nicu. i always got disapproving looks, but no one ever said anything...

Nikki said...

Oh My Goodness!! Jana - you are amazing, not to mention that little guy - Cameron, he is officially my hero! Like so many others, I pray for daily and now, I hope that a revelation might make itself known on your behalf! Thanks for keeping all of us so updated! Hey - you could add to your list of things to do in the back room: try that nurse outfit on after all :)

Marissa said...

What a crazy set of circumstances, but it does sound like he is a little fighter.
You guys will continue to be in my prayers.

HM said...

I loved the line in that first pub, that rarely is a baby born that can't produce red blood cells. Methinks they need to do a bit of updating.

It's frustrating that there isn't any treatment at this stage, but now you know the cause behind all of Cameron's problems. It doesn't solve much, but at least you're not sitting there wondering what the heck is going on and feeling totally helpless.

You compared him to a character in "Twilight"; my first thought when you said he didn't need a transfusion was "Dang, he's never going to wear that little vampire cape!" Yep, sick minds think alike.

Have a blast in your private room and hugs and kisses to everyone!

Karen said...

I think at least having an explanation is better than not. Too bad there's not much but waiting to be done.
Your family and that cutie little Cameron is in my prayers!

Shaunte Wadley said...

Good gracious!
Poor litte guy! He looks like a fighter to me....stay strong little man! (and mom:))

Lisa Loo said...

I find you to be nothing short of amazing!! You are in the middle of what I would say was a crisis and yet you are seeing the blessings and be very funny all at the same time!! I hope all will be well----

Liz said...

I think he's a fighter too.. look how cute he is in his little tiger shirt! "grrrr!"
Stay strong! He's got lots of people routing for him! :)

And with all that's going on in your world, you are a saint to continue to take the time to update us all! Thanks Jana!

Daria said...

A few short years from now when you find that while you were in the shower, Cameron has taken sticks of butter out of the fridge and smeared them all over your living room furniture...think back to this precious infant struggling to get well and be ever so grateful.

You are truly blessed. As am I.

Malea said...

So great that you have your glorious humor to see you through!!!

Hagan Wagon said...

What a little fighter- go Cameron! We'll keep him and you guys in our prayers. Here's a thought: for his college fund, you could sell his story to a medical mystery show or House...

Heather said...

What a pickle (as we say in our house). I'm sure you are grateful for some info but to hear that you can't do anything has to be beyond frustrating. Your little Cameron is a doll! I am sure with so many people praying for you guys he is going to get over this bump quickly. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Sarah said...

Yuck! I'm praying for you both! Take care o yourselves.

pamajama said...

Rarely am I speechless, but this puts me there. You really are incredible, your whole attitude & everything is WOW. Like, the part where you're able to appreciate the cheese & crackers. You're just so funny, always. I hope you've got a lot of support. Wish I could do something. We're only just across the river:)

Guess I wasn't really speechless. Figures. My mouth is huge.

Jana said...

You guys are so sweet. Anyone want to come over and play at our house? Pregnant woman are especially welcome!

Debbie said...

Wow,

The fact that through all this insanity you can keep counting your blessings and smiling is such a rare gift!!! You and Cameron have my prayers!!! Keep healing Cameron and keep making us all laugh Mama!!!

kat said...

sheesh jana. aren't you unique enough already? now you have to go and get published in an entirely different area from your degree?! ;) goodluck. if i was in PA, i would totally come over and play!

dkm said...

Your little guy will remain in our thoughts and prayers as long as it takes.

The Tobler bunch said...

Goodness gracious! Poor little guy! My daughter had the fifth disease years ago, and they had nothing to give her. We just had to stay home and wait it out! I can't imagine poor little guy having to deal with that. Our prayers are definitely with you daily! He is absolutely beautiful!

Kamity said...

Too bad this isn't an episode of House. He could cure you. Or you could send your story in to the show's writers and make millions. Hmmm!!

**hugs and prayers being sent your way!!**

Diva Ma said...

Agreeing with the House comment! My son's name is Cameron. He is surely in my prayers.

brossettelewis said...

Way to go getting infectious disease experts out of bed, the thought of being published does wonders for (doctors) helping patients. So, what journal of medicine is Cameron going to grace the cover of? It's better that the "Well we just can't explain this one."

We had a private room too in NICU, it's kinda nice as you have learned. Would it be too soon to rub it in the stormtroopers face yet that your meds had more effect than experts thought? No?

Thanks for updating all of us that are now stalking your little man's daily activities. :)

Michal said...

you guys are just into the drama, aren't you? i'm so sorry that your family is going through this. it can't be easy to be in the nicu all the time with three five year olds at home.
with all the disease labels at the bottom of your post, your blog could be mistaken for a medical journal.
you continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

mom22 said...

Oh Jana. I'm sorry for all this. My mom also has crohns and a comprised immune system so if anyone even has the sniffles we have to stay away from her and again it's from the darn drugs she takes. Take care of that lil guy. I check your blog almost everyday and can't wait until you are taking that little man home! prayers for you, hubby & the other little c's...

Jennifer and Jason said...

I just brought my baby home from the NICU although my experience is nothing like yours I know what you mean by the feeling weird with all the supervision at the hospital at your baby's bedside. Our baby got put in a room by himself too and I loved being able to go in there without all the staring eyes. The NICU makes you feel like the hospital owns your baby. Hang in there, it will be all worth it when he comes home.