Saturday, March 3, 2012

And then it got more fun!

We had yet another doctor's appointment on Thursday, at which they finally diagnosed the crazy rash that the baby's had since she came to us. In the interest of not disclosing confidential medical information, I'm only going to say that it's a totally horrifying but also totally treatable contagious condition that reminds people of lice except that it involves the skin instead of the hair. Oh, and Andy and I have it too now. Neat.

It took four different dermatologist appointments for them to diagnose this shit. The condition causes extreme itching, but the baby is too young to scratch, so she must have been miserable. We've noticed that when she's falling asleep she spends a few seconds wriggling intensely (like the first time she did it I thought maybe she was having a seizure), which we can now attribute to the itching, which is known to be worse when you're falling asleep.

So Andy and the baby and I were all treated on Thursday and will repeat the treatment in a week. I had to call the daycare so they could notify the parents of the other infants, and so that the worker could get herself and her daughter checked. I had to call the friends we were out of town with because they held the baby for a bit. Every single itch in the last two days has freaked me the hell out. We had an outbreak of this at the shelter I worked at probably once a year, and I managed not to get it for eight years. Then our first foster placement shows up and brings it right to my home.

The baby's birth parents were invited to the doctor's appointment and were reminded several times about it by the worker, but they didn't show up. So after we left the office, I called the worker to explain the situation and to tell her that both parents needed to be treated, and it would be best if the grandma and the baby's brother were treated as well, to minimize the chances of reinfecting the baby and then us. She said she'd let them know. Then she called back twenty minutes later and asked if I had it in writing from the doctor that they needed to be treated before they could have their visits. No, of course I didn't, why would I need that? Well, the worker explained, the parents are saying they don't have it and they don't want to get treated. Oh, and the mom also told the dad that we (the foster parents) are blaming him, which is insanity because he had only seen the baby maybe twice when she came into care. (To be totally clear, we are blaming the mom and maybe the grandma.) If they had shown up to the appointment, the doctor would have explained that anyone with regular contact with the baby needs to be treated and would have written them prescriptions right then and there, like he did for me and Andy.

So I had to call the doctor's office and ask them to put it in writing that the parents need to be treated before they can have visits, and I also asked him to add that they need some sort of proof that they've seen a doctor, like a prescription or something. But even if they get that, there's no telling whether they'll use it, or use it right. Ugh. The doctor was pretty understanding and said he'd fax it right over to the worker (and he was the first of four dermatologists - two specifically pediatric-focused -  and about nine medical students to actually figure out what was up) so he's okay in my book.

The mom told the worker that she can't afford the treatment. When the worker pointed out that the mom's on Medicaid, she said yeah, she is, but she as a one-dollar copay. She can't scrape together a dollar to treat a skin condition to avoid recontaminating her infant, but she has a new cell phone.

I am very relieved to have a concrete diagnosis, even if it's a disgusting one, and to be able to treat the poor baby so she can finally be comfortable. And I know I'm not supposed to think this, let alone share it, but part of me hopes the dad (who is the current person they're considering for reunification) decides not to get treated, so we can keep this precious, perfect baby, who is learning how to laugh and who we love so dearly.

Any of you have experience with gross contagious skin conditions? Any of you foster parents catch something gross from your kids?


  1. I cannot even tell you how grossed out I am reading this. I am borderline OCD about germs. When we got the call for our first foster placement, I spent the next few hours praying that they wouldn't come with any strange diseases or lice. A better person would have been asking for help in loving the kids, but gross stuff was all I could think about at the time. The only gross thing that we have dealt with was both kids getting rotavirus (they are preschool age) because their parents didn't get them vaccinated as babies, and if you don't get the vaccine as a baby, you are unable to get it. So that was lovely. Luckily, none of my kids got it because, you know, I vaccinate my kids. Whatever.

  2. Oh my god, I know. I spent huge amounts of time on Thursday making the most grossed-out gagging face I know of, because it helped a little. I'm extra unhappy that it took so long to diagnose because if we had treated it when she came to us (you know, freaking six weeks ago) we wouldn't have gotten it too! Blech, blech, blech! And instead of treating it properly, they had us applying creams and lotions, head to toe, twice a day, which means we were exposing ourselves enthusiastically twice a day on doctors' orders. Thanks, medical professionals!

    I know what you mean about praying they didn't bring you gross germs. In one of our classes, we did an activity where we talked about what the foster kids bring with them, and when the trainer pulled out a stuffed animal and asked what we'd do with it, I was the only one who said "Straight into the washer." I know it smells like home, I know it's familiar, but that shit is getting washed and I don't care if that makes me a jerk. Well, the next thing she pulled out was a box of lice treatment, so I felt a little vindicated!

  3. Well, in the doctors' defense, this is not something they see often. I think that we as foster parents need to realize that, and even ask the question "could this be some weird gross contagious disease that you don't see often". I know that I asked our pediatrician about something I suspected on our kids, and she had to step out of the room and do a little reading, because in the nice, suburban area that we live, she doesn't get asked that a lot.

  4. Ha. I worked at a shelter for battered women for eight years. I've seen more than my fair share of scabies, lice, and ringworm. I made them test her for it at her first appointment. I'm pissed that they said she didn't have it when I insisted on the test because they said it didn't look like it. I think I have a slightly different perspective on the homes our kids are coming from then the average suburban foster parent.

  5. I think you might be right about the typical doctor, though, but in our county all foster kids are seen by doctors who specialize in foster care. It's a really good system because there are a lot of things they know to look for that normal doctors don't. In this case, her condition didn't look like expected, so she sent us to dermatologists, who tested for it at my insistence and still missed it for four weeks!

  6. So gross! We got bed bugs from our 1st baby. He came home with 30+ bites after his 1st (Christmas) overnight visit with his bios. We ended up with new furniture and a mattress by the time it was over, and 3yrs later I'm still scratching just writing about it. Oh the things foster care brings us!