Whooping Cough – On The Mend

The baby is sitting on the floor playing with toys.

This isn’t remarkable, babies do this every day. Only when they don’t, because they’re too sick to waste any energy playing.

It’s so easy to take that for granted.

We seem to be on the mend.

The kids are bickering a bit.


Really sick people don’t expend energy fighting.

Victoria is feeling much better. She slept better last night than she has in a week, and for once I was in the bed instead of holding and rocking her in the easy chair all night.

We had one scary night. I panicked and called an ambulance. Not because she was coughing, but because she wouldn’t eat and I was worried she was getting dehydrated. (She wasn’t. They said she looked fine.)

I’m not usually one to panic, but this much sleep deprivation will make anyone a little crazy.

Spring will come. It will be warm and beautiful outside and this whole “Whooping Cough” experience will be something we wistfully remember.

“Remember that Winter of 2013 when we all got Whooping Cough?”

“Ah, yes. How did we ever manage?”

A few friends from our congregation, and my parents, have brought food over. Vat-like pots of soup, noodles and other easy to eat things. I haven’t had to worry about dinner for days which has been wonderful with a baby who just now TODAY has let me put her down for the first time.

The middle kids have had the easiest time of it. Actually Ruby doesn’t cough much at all. She did have Strep in the middle of all this, and that’s what was making her miserable.The day before yesterday she woke up at 11 am after having slept about 15 hours, and that made her turn a corner.

The hardest hit seem to be the two oldest, who are still sicker than anyone else. Zoe went back to school (which I thought was a mistake) and I ended up running to pick her up yesterday. She was out of it with fever. Too soon to get back out into the world.

We’re all coughing a little less every day. I think it’s going to take me a week to get caught up on sleep.

The other posts in this series:

  1. Whooping Cough – first sick kid and positive pertussis result
  2. Waiting For Pertussis Results – had remaining kids and hubby tested
  3. We get test results (3 positive, 5 negative, 1 undetermined)


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Whooping Cough, Part 3

The other posts in this series:

  1. Whooping Cough – first sick kid and positive pertussis result
  2. Waiting For Pertussis Results – had remaining kids and hubby tested

Anyone for Whooping Cough Hangman? Sadie won, by the skin of her teeth though.

We got Pertussis test results from the Hospital today.

Victoria – positive
Ruby – negative
Sadie – negative
Ilana – negative
Julien – negative
Caleb – positive

Still waiting to hear about hubby.

Julien and Ilana are symptom free at this point. It is possible that they WILL come down with whooping cough however.

Sadie is asymptomatic too, although she does have coughing at night. It’s not reaching the choking stage, and probably never will, even if she does get WC eventually, because of the Vitamin C treatment. Is this a false negative? Or does she have something else that causes a cough? Or has the Vitamin C kept the 4 negative kids from falling ill?

Caleb is also doing better, as is Zoe. Neither of them are having the choking cough, and Zoe went back to school today. If I made decisions on her behalf, I would have kept her home to rest more,  as her sleep is still interrupted, but sadly I’m the underappreciated Evil Stepmom ;-)

I would not be surprised if she caught something again from her schoolmates in a very short period, as she is especially vulnerable now.

Three days ago I started to get sick. Moderate fever (102-103F), sore throat, chills, body aches, headaches, cough. I've been taking a healthy dose of plankton powder which is supposed to ward of all ill apparently. Time will tell if this is also Whooping Cough – I actually seem more sick than the kids did at this stage, as they presented with milder cold symptoms.

Other than the sleep deprivation that comes from waking up whenever anyone in my house coughs, I’m feeling better today.

Vic seems to be doing well. She only had two coughing episodes last night, lasting just seconds each time. I felt terrible because I had forgotten to give her a nighttime dose of Vitamin C. I won’t forget again!

I am so very thankful for many things: that these cases have been as mild as they have, and that I knew about the Vitamin C treatment which has been nothing short of miraculous for us, and that Victoria is an older infant and can handle the coughing episodes now.

Meanwhile I’ve collected a ton more links with family’s stories of Whooping Cough – some of them in vaccinated children, some not.


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Waiting For Pertussis Results

Saturday we took all the kids to get tested for Pertussis. (So far we only know for sure that Zoe, 13, has Whooping Cough.)

Zoe is staying with relatives until she’s no longer contagious (though it’s probably too late for that). She is doing better. Her case has been a very mild one, thankfully. This is probably due to the megadoses of Vitamin C, which are reported to reduce the coughing by 2/3.

It’s a simple swab up the nose, over with faster than a sneeze. Nobody cried, not even the baby.

The only other child who has symptoms is Caleb, 14. He is quite fine and feeling well during the day, but coughs at night. The day he backed off the Vitamin C (because it gave him runny stool), his cough got worse that night. Proof enough for me that it’s doing its job!

My husband is coughing, but we’re pretty certain that it’s his seasonal allergies. It’s been very warm here lately and he always coughs this time of year.

When we went to the urgent care facility on Saturday, I had everyone wear a mask. The staff thanked me later for this and said that if we hadn’t been properly masked, they would have had to notify everyone in the building at the time that there was Pertussis exposure (assuming the tests come back positive of course).

It was really annoying that a boy was walking around the waiting area coughing his lungs up with no mask. ARGH. His mother seemed totally nonplussed. Finally a nurse came over and put a mask on him.

I’m thankful that, unlike my husband’s experience last Thursday, this Doctor was actually respectful and we had a nice dialogue about vaccination.

The conversation went like this:

Doc: “Is your decision on vaccinations due to religious belief?”

Me: “In part, yes.”

(I answered this way because some vaccines contain aborted fetal tissue.)

Doc: “You might want to think about vaccinating the older kids. The little ones are fine (I’m assuming they’re not in daycare?)”

Me: “That’s correct.  And these children are homeschooled.”

Doc: “…but the older ones will be going into high school and college and they’ll be exposed to all sorts of things. You could skip Chicken Pox, HIB, and the HPV vaccine. You could even skip DPT since we never see Diphtheria or Tetanus anymore, but I would recommend the MMR.”

Me: “Thank you. It’s not a decision we revisit regularly as we continue researching vaccines.”

Anyway, I was glad the staff didn’t make a stressful situation worse by chastising us.

I’ll update when I know test results, which hopefully will come back today. Meanwhile Caleb is confined to his room (his brother has moved out for a bit), and everyone is in quarantine. We haven’t gone anywhere except to urgent care and the hospital.

Right now I’m staying at my parent’s house with the baby until we have more info.

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So… We Have Whooping Cough

Quite an opener, isn’t it?

At first I planned on naming this post “Whoop… there it is”, but thought better of it. This illness can be really scary, and I’m not taking it lightly. But a girl does have to keep her sense of humor, no?

I’ve been reading and researching Whooping Cough for about 14 1/2 years since… you guessed it, my oldest child was born. Of all the so-called childhood illnesses, Whooping Cough scared me the most. Every time my kids come down with a sickness, I check their symptoms with the books I have on hand. As a result, I knew the symptoms of Whooping Cough well.

So last Saturday, when we were at a party and after running around playing a game, my stepdaughter Zoe began having a coughing fit and turned purple, I looked at my husband and said, “Babe, that sounds like Whooping Cough.”

The very next day, we quarantined her in her room and I started her on the Vitamin C treatment Dr. Suzanne Humphries recommends here. We ordered the powdered sodium ascorbate online because we couldn’t find it anywhere. While we waited for it to ship to us we had her take powdered ascorbic acid we bought at Whole Foods. We also gave her some chlorella powder we had lying around, which is good for most things.

After her first large dose, she coughed up a huge wad of mucus. Which is exactly what should happen as the Vitamin C thins the mucus and allows you to get it up, and is what Dr. Humphries says would happen.

I hoped I was wrong about the diagnosis, but her case was textbook, and I knew the Vitamin C wouldn’t harm her even if it wasn’t Pertussis.

About 2 weeks previous, she had mild cold-like symptoms: a sore throat, malaise, runny nose. This is how Whooping Cough begins: the symptoms are indistinguishable from the common cold. It’s only after a couple of weeks that the cough begins to get worse, after the initial symptoms have gone away.

By Tuesday the cough had begun to get worse. We had a couple of rough nights with little sleep as she coughed, turned red and vomited. My husband took her to the hospital Tuesday evening to get her tested.

It wasn’t easy getting the diagnosis, because when my husband took her to the hospital, the Doctors immediately discredited him, began verbally abusing him because of Zoe’s unvaccinated status, and insisted that “it couldn’t be whooping cough because she hasn’t been coughing long enough”.

They didn’t want to test her, and Zeke had to insist. So their course of action would be for her to continue spreading it to everyone around her until they decided she had been coughing long enough for them to do a simple test?!

On Thursday, we got the test results – Zoe has confirmed pertussis.

(And may the attending physician feel like the horse’s rosette she is because I,  an “uneducated” mother know more than she does about diagnosing this illness. This is where I am awesome.)

So far, Caleb (14) has a mild dry sounding cough and no other symptoms. He had a mild sore throat a couple of weeks ago. Julien (12) and Ilana (10) have no symptoms. Sadie (7) has a mild dry cough, no other symptoms. Ruby (2 1/2) has a “junky” sounding cough, and mild fever that comes and goes. She is playing and eating normally and not acting sick.

And Victoria (7 months) has a mild runny nose. She’s playing, eating and sleeping normally.

I’m fine (I did have a mild sore throat for a few days two weeks ago) and my husband has a mild cough.

Do we all have it? I don’t know. Time will tell. 

We are all taking the megadoses of Vitamin C. It’s calibrated by body weight. To make things easier, I add the correct amount of powdered C to a bottle of water, label it with a name, and have the child sip on it all day. For Ruby, I added a bit of honey and called it “lemonade”. She’s drinking it just fine. It’s making the kids go poop more frequently, but other than that there are no ill effects (and that’s probably a good thing anyway).

Since Whooping Cough has been in the news so much lately due to increasing numbers of cases in several states, I’ve been collecting info and links for months. I knew this day would eventually come, and I wanted to be prepared so when it did happen I could begin a plan of action instead of freaking out and panicking.

Here’s what I know about Whooping Cough. I hope this will be helpful to you.

You need to know about this illness no matter if your child is vaccinated or not.

  • Whooping Cough has never disappeared in the US. It comes and goes in cycles every 4-5 years. (WhoopingCough.net)
  • The vaccine’s effectiveness is debated, but most sources agree it wears off in 2-4 years. Currently, W.C. outbreaks are taking place mostly among the vaccinated. This study, done several years ago, showed that 86% of children who got Pertussis were fully vaccinated.
  • Unvaccinated children and immigrants are NOT to blame for the current epidemic. (PBS.org – see point #6)
  • Whooping Cough is wildly underdiagnosed. Quote: “It is my opinion, based on my research, that the actual number of cases that occur is at least 10 times the number reported.” Source: WhoopingCough.net
  •  If you or your child has ever had a cough that lasted for more than 3 weeks, there is a 30% chance that it was Whooping Cough. (Lost this source, will keeping searching for the link.)
  • Only about 50% of people actually “Whoop” when they have Pertussis. The “whoop” sound is when the person’s lungs become empty after a prolonged coughing fit, and they gasp for air. Older children and adults usually don’t “whoop”. I have never heard Zoe whoop. (Source)
  • There is no medical treatment (antibiotics, steroids, etc) that has been proven to limit the severity or length of the illness. (Source) Some Doctors may insist that the sick person take antibiotics to help prevent others getting sick, but there is no proof that this works. Antibiotics, according to some experts, will only make things worse because they hamstring the immune system. (Source) (In my opinion, the reason Zoe has this illness in the first place is because, unlike the other children, she has had several unnecessary rounds of antibiotics. She seems constitutionally weaker than the others for this and several other reasons.)Quote: “The consensus is that antibiotics may limit the period of infectivity but do not alter the clinical course and are not indicated in close contacts. Most cases that come to treatment have already been coughing and spreading the disease, and antibiotics are of limited if any use.”Source
  • In a similar vein, cough medications are worthless for Whooping Cough. What you want is not to stop the cough, but to help the cough be more productive (i.e. thin the mucus so it can be expelled). Things that act as an expectorant (Vitamin C, steam, etc) are more helpful.
  • The Vitamin C treatment has been studied and shown to be effective in minimizing the length and severity of the cough (the studies were small, but still impressive). (Source) Links: Japanese study Vit C and whooping cough |Pertussis vit C Success Ormerod 1937 |A Preliminary Report on the Use of Cevitamic Acid in the Treatment of Whooping C
  • People who are in the whooping cough (symptom) stage of Pertussis (disease) look and act normal inbetween coughing paroxyms. So if you take your child to the Doctor and the Doc doesn’t hear/see the cough, they’re not likely to suspect W.C. It’s a good idea to record the kid coughing (your cell phone likely has an audio note app).  Older kids and adults may only cough at night, or after eating. Babies and toddlers cough more, but again – the coughing fits may be spaced out.

Here is a list of blog posts I have collected where Moms share their family’s experience with Whooping Cough:

Has your family contracted Whooping Cough? Please share your experience and any links below.


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Helping the Reluctant Reader

Last week I met three fellow homeschooling mom friends at one of those indoor jump places. As our kids played we chatted about homeschooling, books and Jane Austen.

And reluctant readers. Turns out each of us have one.

In a house full of bibliophiles, I also have a child who I consider to be a reluctant reader. But he is very nearly reformed at the moment. :-)

In 3 out of 4 cases, the child was male, so I will use the male gender for this post. While I generally eschew gender stereotypes, it’s pretty much established that a reluctant reader is more likely to be male.

If a household doesn’t value reading, then the kids aren’t likely to become big readers. Being read to and having lots of books around and parents who read a lot generally makes for a literate kid. But I trust that none of the readers of this blog are slackers in this area, so I’ll discuss the other kinds of issues that can cause a child to be a reluctant reader.

I think there are three basic reasons why a child might not love reading.

They are: the child can’t read well and so it’s a chore to do so, the child who has a short attention span/memory and can’t get involved in the story, and the child has a kinesthetic learning style, meaning he prefers to move around, take things apart, and use his hands to learn.

First, rule out whether this child is struggling with the mechanics of reading well.

If this is the case, and the child is struggling to read, go back to a basic phonics program and review it.