Category Archives: periodic fever syndrome

No More Periodic Fevers?

If you’ve kept up with our family’s experiences with PFAPA, you’ll remember BB#2 had a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy back in October 2013. Knock wood (because I’m still paranoid enough to do that whenever I say this), he hasn’t had any mystery fevers since! Yes, he’s gotten sick, but it’s been with coughs and colds, like other kids. We know there’s no guarantee that the fevers won’t recur (he still occasionally gets the mouth sores, so I know it’s not completely “cured”), but for now, we’re just grateful for this long break–for him, for our family.

Which is why we finally got around to having BB#1’s tonsils out this past week. I know, it seems odd that our younger child had surgery first, but because this syndrome was never as disruptive for our oldest, and because he was older when we figured it all out, we held out hope he’d grow out of it without surgery. But he’s 11 now, and still getting the fevers, about once a month. We did try prednisone with him and it did stop the symptoms, but like we experienced with his brother, the fevers seemed to come closer together–the last time we used it, he was sick again less than two weeks later. He was getting tired of getting sick, even if it was only for 24-72 hours at a time. And we didn’t want him heading into junior high missing school once a month. We all agreed tonsillectomy was our only option at this point.

So far he’s recovering well, eating lots of soft cold things, playing lots of video games. We have our fingers crossed that this is the end of it. Though I’m still pondering my bloggy future, I know people land here in their search for information on this syndrome, so I thought I’d share what I hope is our final chapter.

Looking for more information on our experiences with PFAPA? Start here.

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Filed under health, periodic fever syndrome, PFAPA, the beautiful boys, Uncategorized

There’s More Than One Way to be a Family

There are 1,000 ways to be a family an I’m excited to be guest-posting as “family 162” on thenewfamily.com! Thanks to @bweikle for the opportunity to share our story.

http://thenewfamily.com/2015/10/1000-families-project-andrea-and-family/

You can also listen and subscribe to the just-launced The New Family Podcast, the show all about families like yours and mine!

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Filed under parenting, periodic fever syndrome, PFAPA, random, the beautiful boys, Uncategorized, working parents

To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate: Is There a Question?

During my BEd studies, I got called out by one of my professors for talking in class. She had made a dismissive comment about people choosing not to vaccinate their children and relying on herd immunity to keep them healthy.

“Not necessarily,” I commented to the pregnant woman beside me, not quite as under my breath as I’d thought.

The professor asked me to explain. I told her that some people felt the vaccines were riskier than the diseases they were meant to prevent. They weren’t necessarily relying on other people to keep their children healthy—they actually accepted that they might get sick, and hoped they would build up natural immunity. It wasn’t simply that they were OK with the rest of us pumping chemicals into our kids so that they didn’t have to.

Being Canadian, she later apologized to me for any offense, and I apologized in return for interrupting her lecture. And we both made it clear that our own children were, in fact, fully immunized.

So why was I defending anti-vaxxers? When my children were born, I had questioned vaccines, or at least the number and frequency of shots they were scheduled to receive. I came into contact, at least online, with other parents who were concerned—not so much about the (now disproven) autism link (though there were some of those), but with the idea of injecting their perfect babies for what they considered treatable illnesses in this age of modern medicine. There was a certain sense in the arguments.

I could also understand questioning standard medical advice. Already as a new mom, I’d learned that doctors aren’t perfect, and don’t always agree. If I had listened to my OB, I would have believed there was no benefit to delayed cord cutting, because she hadn’t heard of it in 2004. If I had listened to the nurses in the hospitals where my sons were born, I wouldn’t have succeeded in breastfeeding. If I had listened to my pediatrician, I never would have breastfed past 6 months, and would have let my baby cry himself to sleep. If I had listened to my family doctor, I would have accepted that my sons’ PFAPA was a series of viruses. Heck, solid feeding guidelines changed by the time my firstborn was 6 months old, and have changed at least once since then! So it was no surprise that some parents weren’t in a hurry to get their babies vaccinated, no questions asked.

In the end, my husband and I did ask questions, and chose to go with our instincts and our doctors’ recommendations (it helped that they were parents of young children themselves and could honestly tell us they’d chosen to vaccinate their babies). But I could still understand that other parents might not make the same choice.

So I find the current anti-anti-vaxxer backlash that I’m witnessing online and in the media quite interesting. I find myself agreeing more and more with the idea that we need to work together to keep ALL children in our society healthy, and that science isn’t evil. As some have pointed out on Twitter, peanut butter is not welcome at schools, so measles shouldn’t be either.

But then again, most years we’ve resisted the hype and chosen not to get the flu shot, and apparently that was a good call this year. So what would I do if it was suddenly made mandatory?

Note: edited to add sixth paragraph, February 7, 2015.

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Filed under babies, birth, breastfeeding, health, in the news, night-time parenting, parenting, periodic fever syndrome, PFAPA, schools

Positively PFAPA

The good news: BB#1’s periodic fevers respond quickly to Prednisone, cutting the episodes from a few days to less than one day. (This is also considered diagnostic: he does have PFAPA.)

The bad news: He had two fever episodes this month, four weeks apart instead of his more typical five-eight weeks. This is one of the side effects of this treatment; sometimes the fevers come closer together. We don’t know if that’s the case here, or it’s just a coincidence. Time will tell I guess. Still, another fever four weeks later is better than the symptoms recurring within days, which is what happened when we tried this medication with BB#2. And knowing that we have a quick treatment option on hand is a good thing, say, if we were to go on vacation. Which we won’t be any time soon, but still.

We’re hopeful that BB#1 grows out of this–from what I’ve read, kids often do by around age ten. But his tenth birthday is less than six weeks away so…Still, we’re not convinced a tonsillectomy is called for in his case, even though it seems to have worked for his brother. BB#2 has not had a classic PFAPA episode since before he got his tonsils and adenoids out in October of last year. Yay! That said, he’s had plenty of other regular colds, which he rarely got during the “PFAPA years”. Hopefully his immune system was just sorting itself out, because he still missed an awful lot of school last year. Admittedly many of those missed days were due to us being overly cautious, and the fact that he really doesn’t care for school (“Bueller, Bueller…”)

I won’t feel completely confident we’re out of the woods with either boy, well, maybe ever. BB#1 often had periods of six months where he didn’t have any fevers, which is why it took us so long to realize he was experiencing the same thing as his brother. And BB#2 once went eleven months with no fevers, so I won’t truly believed the surgery worked until at least December 1.

Until then, I’ll have my thermometer at the ready, and children’s Tylenol in the cupboard.

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Filed under health, periodic fever syndrome, PFAPA, the beautiful boys

April IS the Cruelest Month

Last year about this time, we spent three weekends in a row playing pass the stomach bug. So when BB#2 started vomiting a couple weeks back, I braced myself for a repeat of awful April. I left detailed lesson plans on my desk each night lest I wake up unable to drag myself into school without a barf bag.

Sure enough, BB#1 got it the following week. My husband and I washed our hands obsessively, though we didn’t really believe it would help.

So we breathed sighs of relief when it passed and we managed to avoid getting it ourselves.

But relief was short-lived when BB#1 missed school yet again last week, this time thanks to PFAPA. Well, at least we knew we’d have another couple months before the next episode; with spring kinda sorta here, surely this was the end of winter viruses!

I must have spoken this out loud and tempted the fates, because poor BB#1 immediately caught a cold, and then “lost his lunch” yesterday (his words; and his dinner too). Can it be long before his brother takes his turn? And it’s really too much to ask that my husband and I be spared this round too, right?

With all the other work, life and school (I rather stupidly decided to sign up for a course in my “spare time”) stuff going on right now, all I can think is, April can’t be over soon enough.

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Filed under career, health, parenting, periodic fever syndrome, PFAPA, the beautiful boys, work, working parents

Happy New Year! Even If It’s Almost March…

So, looks like I haven’t posted yet in 2014. Whoops. That whole life getting in the way thing again. I’ve started composing a few posts here and there in my head but never seem to have the time to actually put them down on screen and hit publish.

It’s been the longest winter ever, with no real end in sight. Really wish we’d booked that March Break trip we were thinking about last summer…Beautiful boys are well though, knock wood still no mystery fevers for BB#2 since the tonsillectomy. Just honest-to-goodness cold and coughs. BB#1 may or may not have had an episode, but it was pretty mild. So this is good.

For myself, I’m learning that teaching is a bit like parenting. Even if you go into it knowing it will be hard, it is harder than that when you are actually doing it. And part-time? Really isn’t. I sometimes even dream about being in the classroom, if I’m not lying awake thinking about how to teach a particular lesson. Hence the lack of posting this year

But spring has to come sometime! Hopefully I’ll have time to write again before next winter arrives…

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Filed under career, parenting, periodic fever syndrome, PFAPA, teaching, the beautiful boys, Uncategorized, working parents

Saturday Night Fever

We’ve been lying low this weekend as BB#2 recovers from his recent day-surgery. He’s coping remarkably well! But it’s looking like we probably should have gone for a tonsillectomy two-for-one (or is that four-for-one?) because BB#1 is sick. Though it’s believed PFAPA is neither contagious nor genetic, it’s now pretty clear to us that both boys have it.

It was fairly easy the past several years to assume BB#1 was just regular-kid-sick from time to time. After all, his fevers haven’t been as alarmingly high, as frequent, or as predictable as BB#2’s. There was never a period where he was sick every two weeks, I don’t recall him missing birthday parties or many major holidays, and just when we’d start to get suspicious that something more was going on, he’d suddenly be fine for several months, while his brother continued to suffer regular episodes.

But the fact is, BB#1’s symptoms are the same as his brother’s: strep-like, but he never tests positive for strep. In between episodes, he’s healthy, and (on the plus-side of this syndrome) he rarely gets actual colds or flu. The episodes last about 48 hours, and in his case happen every four-to-six weeks (he’s probably been sick once for every two times his brother has had a fever this past year).

So though it’s taken us a while to connect the dots here, we’re now waiting on a referral to the same children’s hospital BB#2 is seen at for PFAPA. The question is, what if anything do we do if he is officially diagnosed? Apparently, most kids grow out of it by age ten—BB#1 is already nine. Waiting another four years for BB#2 to outgrow this syndrome was no longer feasible, but maybe it is in the case of his big brother. But is it worth treating him with Prednisone when his fevers aren’t scary-high and the episodes are relatively short and infrequent, knowing from past experience it may work immediately on the symptoms but result in him being sick more often? And how often is too often for a child to be ill—how many episodes before tonsillectomy is the next step?

But I guess first things first—waiting to see if the procedure has worked for BB#2.

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Filed under health, parenting, periodic fever syndrome, PFAPA, random, the beautiful boys, Uncategorized