If you read my recent “soft play and fails” post, you will know that I had a slightly annoying Friday last week. You will also know that said rubbish day culminated in my toddler being sick all over one of my friends. What you don’t know is that vomit was only the beginning.
The worst thing about my 1yo’s bug that night (besides the usual feelings of worry about him) was the fact that I currently have no washing machine. You can imagine the “joy” of dealing with pukey clothes without being able to just bung them in the machine. I didn’t deal with them. I hid them in a far corner of the bit of my house which is being renovated, in the hope that the plaster dust would neutralise the smell until I could find a launderette.
I can’t say Friday night was pleasant, but we survived it. By midnight, poor little 1yo was finally able to keep down some water and we all gratefully went to bed.
Saturday was sort of alright. We went to IKEA and I discovered I could put my 4yo in the basket of the trolley with his tablet. This enabled me to look at candles and unnecessary soft furnishings in peace, instead of spending the whole time stopping him from forging a path of destruction through the kitchen displays. I even think the children actually went to sleep nicely in the evening.
But cue 3am and my poor little 1yo started crying in an unusual way. I ran to his bedroom to discover he was burning up. I took his temperature and it was nearly 40 degrees celsius. I gave him some baby ibuprofen (we were out of baby paracetamol), brought him into our bedroom for a cuddle, and stripped him down a bit. Then we noticed that his breathing was a bit fast as well. I decided to call 111 (for the non-Brits, this is a 24-hour health advice line you can call for non-emergencies).
After the usual assessment, the advisor on the phone told me he was calling an ambulance. Okay. That’s serious shit. My adrenaline kicked in. Best put some clothes on, I thought.
I put some Peppa Pig on Netflix for my 1yo while I waited with him for the ambulance. My husband stood with the door open as advised by 111, to make sure the paramedic could find the house. The paramedic soon turned up and was very reassuring while she did a series of tests on 1yo to assess his condition. Based on these tests, she offered to drive us to hospital.
It wasn’t a full-sized ambulance. It was smaller and called an Emergency Response Unit or something like that. The back of it was sort of like the back of a Black Cab. We strapped 1yo into his own chair – he always prefers to have his own chair – and I sat in another. Husband stayed home to look after the 4yo.
Our local hospital has a paediatric A&E and this allowed us to be processed through triage very quickly. The nurse brought us to a bed and presented me with a sort of test tube with a funnel attached to it. “We’ll need to get a urine sample,” she said.
I said, “Uuuhhh, how do I get that then?”
“You should take off his nappy, put this waterproof pad underneath him, hold the funnel nearby, and wait.”
Me: “Right. Okay.”
I felt a heavy weight of responsibility. I had been given a urine sample obtaining job. I wished to succeed at this. Never mind I also had the responsibility of keeping a sick baby mildly content whilst waiting an unpredictable amount of time to see a doctor.
Luckily, we’d brought my best friend: the tablet. And the hospital had brilliant WiFi. Streaming CBeebies saved my sanity on this night. Thank you, tablet. Thank you, hospital WiFi. Thank you, CBeebies. Never say I’m not grateful for small favours.
So now you can picture me:
- Holding the tablet at a comfortable viewing angle for the 1yo (which was an uncomfortable angle for my arm).
- Simultaneously holding my head upright in a way that would keep me from nodding off in utter exhaustion (the head bobbing slowly down and then shooting back up again in another bid for wakefulness).
- And watching LIKE A HAWK for the anticipated wee sample.
- Constantly re-adjusting the funnel to ensure ideal placement for the catching of a sudden wee.
In the end, we waited 3 hours to be seen by a doctor. I spent that entire 3 hours waiting for my son to wee in the funnel. That’s right: I spent 3 hours staring at my son’s junk, hoping for a wee. Well, how else could you spend the wee hours of a Sunday morning (maybe be dancing in a club? I wouldn’t know).
When the doctor finally came, he diagnosed tonsillitis and sent us home with some penicillin. We never did get that urine sample.
While I was waiting for husband to collect us from hospital, I gave my son his first dose of the penicillin from a syringe. At first he took it eagerly as he loves the flavour of Calpol. But then he made the incredible grimace. This was the precursor to a later disaster.
When we got home I was allowed to go for a nap while husband looked after the children. I was awoken when he tried to give my son the next dose of his penicillin. He screamed and screamed and refused to take it. When my husband finally got it in, 1yo promptly puked it back up.
I was enlisted to have a go at administering another dose. Let’s just say I failed.
Hours passed and my son refused to eat or drink anything. My husband popped out to the shops, and while he was gone, 1yo laid down on the sofa and just went to sleep. I looked closely at him and I thought he’d gone a bit blue around his nose and mouth. In hindsight I was probably imagining it.
Suddenly, my heart started pumping at a mile a minute. It felt as though it was going to leap out of my chest. I didn’t know what was happening to me. I called 999. This was the first time I’d ever called 999 (or 911, when I lived in the USA) in my life.
The woman on the phone was very kind and talked me down from what was apparently a panic attack. I’d never had one before.
When my husband got home, we agreed that my son should go back to A&E because he wouldn’t drink anything and we couldn’t get the medicine into him. Why are children always sick on Sundays?
They were very nice at A&E and they gave us special rehydrating solution and then the doctor eventually came and gave him an extra check. She said he was fine and then had the nurse help us learn the best way to pin him down and trick him into opening his mouth so we could syringe the medicine in. It seems cruel, but the doctor said if we couldn’t give him the meds then he’d need to stay in hospital for a whole week to get them via a drip.
Perhaps we didn’t need to go to A&E the second time, but you hear so many horror stories about misdiagnosed children. It was a “better safe than sorry” situation. And the doctor and nurses were completely understanding and incredibly helpful.
We went home again and I can’t say giving 1yo the medicine got any easier. But by the end of the day, you could tell it and the rehydration solution was taking effect, and he started taking an interest in his toys again.
He’s now perfectly fine, even though we’re still wrestling him to get the drugs in. Luckily, he is also back at nursery and they skillfully administer some of the doses.
So there you have it. My crap weekend. Why did I bother telling you? Partly just to vent. Partly to say you shouldn’t feel embarrassed to use emergency services and the NHS if you feel you need them. And mostly so you can laugh at the image of me obsessively holding a wee funnel for 3 hours.