One of the many diagnoses that Elvie received was that she had a parasite called cryptosporidium. This was likely caused by her formula being mixed with tap water for much of her life. Zinashi came to us with a common parasite, so we weren’t surprised at all, and given all of Elvie’s feeding and thriving issues, it made sense that part of the problem was a parasite. As soon as she was diagnosed, treatment began, and she was put on what is called contact isolation. Basically this means that she is required to have a private room so that no other patients will be affected, and medical staff who come in contact with her must don disposable gowns before entering the room, which they then discard upon their exit.
Cryptosporidium in non-medically-vulnerable people is simply five days of discomfort; in adults they don’t even treat it. But for more medically fragile people, cryptosporidium is a true health risk. Thus, great care is taken that the parasite is not spread. We are fully on board with this, and in fact, we love the part where it requires that we have our own private room, with its own private bathroom.
A week ago, Elvie was tested for the parasite again to see if it was still present post treatment, and it was. However, sometimes it takes up to a week after treatment for all of the parasites to exit the body. So we continued to enjoy our own room, and all medical personnel continued to entertain us by putting on their yellow gowns before they came in to see Elvie. For my part, I continued to wash my hands vigorously with the hospital soap and very hot water after every diaper change. Two days ago, they took another sample for testing, and last night it came back positive. This was disappointing news, but at the same time, well, it was okay.
I know it probably sounds strange for a mother to say that it’s okay for her child to continue to be affected by a parasite. I’m not saying that I want my daughter to suffer any further harm or for the parasite to continue to hang out in her body any longer. But the truth is that I’m not surprised; I really didn’t expect the initial treatment of just three days to wipe out what has likely been present and growing for most of Elvie’s life. I expected this, and so I’m looking on the bright side.
First, this will do nothing to prolong our hospital stay. The medication Elvie takes for cryptosporidium is an oral medication; we can easily administer that at home. The original round of treatment was administered through her NG tube, but now we can just squirt it into her mouth via a little medicine syringe. She doesn’t love it, but she takes it just fine.
Second, it guarantees us that we can stay in a private room until Elvie is discharged. This is huge in terms of Elvie getting the rest she needs to grow and recover. With just Elvie in this room, we are already awakened four times a night at the minimum; in a shared room, there are one to three additional people, which would mean the number of awakenings could double or even quadruple if we had to move. I’ll admit that it’s also nice for me; there is a nice degree of privacy here, even with people coming and going at all hours. I don’t mind if medical staff see me in a tank top and leggings (I’m sure they’ve seen worse), but roommates, I’m not so sure.
Third, Elvie is doing so well overall that continuing this treatment does not cause me to worry. I know that, despite the presence of the parasite, she is definitely doing better, and her weight gain has been above the daily goal each time she has been weighed, sometimes by as much as double the expected amount. I can hardly be sad about that kind of progress.
When we saw one of my favorite doctors in the IV treatment room today, he mentioned that he was sorry to hear that Elvie still has a parasite. I smiled and said, “You know, me too, but that room is pretty nice, and you all look stunning in yellow.” He laughed and declared us the most optimistic family he’d met yet. But honestly, when the alternative is complaining and/or moving to a shared room? I’ll take optimism any day. I know that Elvie won’t have the parasite forever. So for now, I’ll make sympathetic noises when she grimaces at the bubble gum flavor of the medicine, then sit back and enjoy the privacy of our very own room.
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