Mariah's been home for 18 months and guess what I found out as a nice little "One and a half years home" present.
She has Giardia. Yep.
At her Pediatrician visit when she'd only been home a week we expressed concern over testing for parasites. We got poo pooed (pun intended). They did have her poo in a collection cup but said it "Looked normal" so the dr just prescribed "something that will get rid of anything" and sent us on our merry way.
I think she DID have something else because a lot of her horrible gas and burping did go away after that but she still had no appetite and she still has had an awful time gaining weight.
At 4 years old she weighed 26lbs.
At 5 years old she now weighs only 34lbs.
But she EATS now. She eats as much as I do at most meals and she still hasn't gained weight in months.
Her hair was awful. Her hair was so thin and brittle when she came home. It felt like straw, crunchy and brittle. Not soft like little girl hair should feel.
Now, her hair looks much healthier and around 4 months home I noticed she had new hair growing in all over her head. However, it still breaks way to easy in my opinion and it will just pull right out of her head with almost no force exerted. It just worries a mama who keeps bringing it up and keeps getting told "She looks fine."
Another thing that worried me was the fevers. She'd just break out in a low grade fever for seemingly no reason at all. Her lymph nodes would swell up a little bit and then the fever would go... Just not right.
She's also had episodes where she'd have very loose smelly stool. Like BAD. I have two other kids. I've smelled poop before. This was always way worse, but then she'd also have "normal" looking poo so again no one thought anything was wrong.
More than once I even noticed that the water in the toilet had a shiny oil sheen to it after she'd gone. I thought it odd, but figured since I give her hemp seed oil that it just came on through.
She spiked another fever. She kept running to the bathroom. She had some "interesting" poo and I'd just had enough.
I took her to the Pediatrician and demanded a stool test. They agreed and after I dropped it off they even called to tell me that it didn't' have any bacteria in it and it "Looked fine" but they'd call back with a culture report next week.
So yesterday I get the call that she has giardia. The nurse called. The Dr. called. The pharmacy called. Within an hour I had flagyl in hand administering it.
I'm mad at the first Pediatrician for just dismissing this. I'm angry at the Developmental Pediatrician at the Children's Hospital for just dismissing this. They always blamed her low weight on her CP. Well, yes she has CP but she EATS!
So, I know a post about poop isn't always super fun, but I urge ANYONE out there who has adopted kiddos to TEST THE POOP.
Here's the symptoms of Giarida:
Gas or bloating
Loss of appetite
Swollen or distended abdomen
Mariah had SOME of these symptoms but not all at the same time.
Mostly what she had were the COMPLICATIONS:
Malabsorption (inadequate absorption of nutrients from the intestinal tract)
Weight loss (or no weight gain in a growing child)
The most likely reason she is not gaining weight? The stupid parasite has been absorbing her nutrients all.this.time. She can eat and eat and eat all she wants, but her body isn't getting it. The oily sheen in the toilet is an indicator that her body isn't absorbing food. :( SAD
I personally feel HORRIBLE that Mariah has been here for EIGHTEEN MONTHS and has had Giardia the whole time. A year and a half of Dr. visits and I've been quoted that "She's perfectly proportional" "She has CP so she expends more calories because she walks inefficiently," and "She was premature and malnourished so she might always be small."
They also suggested I give her an extra snack (I do).
Make her shakes with high calorie items (I DO!)
Give her whole milk (I DOOOO!)
So, the moral of this story is to listen to your gut (no pun intended) and make the Dr. check your kid out if you know something is not right. Here in the U.S. doctors just don't see children who've had to live with an intestinal parasite for YEARS. The body can adapt to the parasite because it HAS to so some of the most common symptoms (diarrhea, super smelly poo, gas & bloating) are no longer present or don't present acutely.
And no, we don't think anyone else in the family has gotten it but we are going to test the other kids just to make sure. The only way it can really be transmitted is by getting it into your mouth. Simple hand washing (which they do NOT practice in Ukraine) and general good hygiene prevents the spread of this parasite.
AND just an FYI: This super fun parasite, Giardia, can also be contracted by swimming in contaminated water. Beavers and muskrats are carries of this as well. So watch out for that pond water!