Seven-year-old Stanley Pawlow is on the mend now after spending six days in the hospital last week screaming in pain and fighting off E. coli infection.
Stan, of Swansea, spent six days at St. Louis Children's Hospital with severe diarrhea and raging stomach cramps. St. Clair County Health officials suspect that he picked up the E. coli bacteria after eating a barbecue chicken quesadilla Aug. 24 from Habaneros Mexican restaurant in Fairview Heights.
Six people have been diagnosed with the infection after eating at the restaurant at St. Clair Square mall. The most severe case is that of Patricia "Patty" Timko, 20, of Fairview Heights. She has been hospitalized since Aug. 29 after eating chicken from Habaneros the same day as Stan. The restaurant's owners have voluntarily closed it.
Although Stan is on the mend and returned to school Monday, his family is still shaken from the ordeal, said his parents, Jeff and Cindy Pawlow. Four days after the Pawlow family ate at Habaneros, STan began to have bloody diarrhea.
His parents took him to the hospital the next day, but he was sent home because his symptoms were not that severe, his father said. But by early on Aug. 30, Stan was violently ill, and his parents took him to St. Louis Children's Hospital, where he would spend the next six days, much of it in agony.
Every 20 minutes he would double up in spasms with extreme stomach cramps and diarrhea, Jeff said.
"This is the most gruesome thing. Your child is screaming and looking at you like 'Why are you letting this happen to me?'" Jeff said.
The pain was so extreme that his normally sweet-natured son became angry and combative. The family's stress level was high on the day they took him into Children's emergency room and it continued during Stan's stay.
During Stan's illness, his parents had to arrange with family members to help care for their other two sons, Steven, 4, and Nathan, 2. At the same time, the couple had previously committed to adopting a 2-year-old dog from an area animal shelter that insisted the pet be picked up before closing that same day.
"It was a tough week," Jeff Pawlow said.
Midway through his stay at Children's, doctors gave Stan morphine to help him sleep and give him a break from the pain.
But that treatment wasn't the best, the Pawlows said they learned. After consulting with Dr. Phil Tarr, head of pediatric gastroenterology at Washington University and an expert on the strain of E. coli that Stan had contracted, they changed treatment regimens.
Tarr recommended pushing a lot of fluids through Stan's body intravenously to flush the bacteria from his system. The morphine, because it is a narcotic, slows body functions and prolongs the symptoms of e. coli infection, Jeff Pawlow said.
Stan had to endure a return to the wracking stomach spasms and diarrhea once the morphine wore off. But after another day of suffering, the symptoms began to abate and Stan eventually stabilized.
"It was scary," Stan said.