Is she responsive?

The scariest 3 words in the English langauge.

You’d think after the week from hell things would have gotten better, and they did for a bit, but then they got worse again.

A couple of weeks ago, on Friday when the kid came home from nursery, she developed a fever at bedtime. I gave her some Calpol (children’s paracetamol) and checked on her in the night. Her fever wasn’t didn’t go down much but wasn’t too bad, hovering at around 38.5 most of the night.

Saturday morning she was very grouchy and cross and clearly unwell, and still had a fever so we had a fairly quiet morning pottering about at home and I cancelled our plans for the day. I took her for a Covid test first thing in the morning, as you are supposed to do with a fever, and then we came home.

Around 2pm, she curled up into a ball on the couch, and I thought she was just tired and having a nap but then I realised her fever had suddenly shot up super high (39.5/40 degrees, or 103/104 in farenheit). She had had her maximum dose of Calpol for a 24-hour period so I called 111 (the NHS out of hours number) to get some advice.

After waiting on hold for around 45mins I still hadn’t gotten through and she had started shaking and shuddering quite violently so I gave her another dose of Calpol anyway, and called for a taxi to take her to hospital. The taxi service said it would be a 45 min wait, so I started quietly freaking out and called a friend who lives nearby and asked her to come and get us.

I could have driven us there myself but I am not that familiar with the hospital layout and where the car parks are or how many spaces there might be and was too stressed and flustered to drive around in a blind panic with a very sick kid trying to find a parking space. It’s one of those moments when I WISH I had a partner who could have driven us and dropped us off at the door so I didn’t have to think about it. Sometimes lone parenting really SUCKS.

My friend thankfully arrived really quickly and I bundled us into the car. There wasn’t time to sort out a car seat and it’s a short drive so I just sat in the seat with her in my arms. There was some typical Saturday traffic so we crawled past the shops and quite a few pedestrians tutted at me with shocked looks through the window for not having a child strapped in properly but I was beyond caring and getting increasingly agitated and panicked.

Halfway there she went limp and floppy in my arms and I kicked myself for not calling an ambulance. I was so busy dithering and unsure if it was really that serious and it always feels like you shouldn’t bother with an ambulance unless someone is literally dying so I just wasn’t sure what to do (and again, didn’t have a partner to talk it over with, and couldn’t get through to 111 to ask anyone).

My friend knows the area really well and the traffic was heavy (again, kicking myself as an ambulance would have easily got through) so she cut down a side street and dropped us off at the back entrance, so I dashed over to A&E, running across the car park with a very sad, hot, exhausted and unwell girl in my arms.

We got there and checked in (additional drama as my daughter’s medical records appear to have gotten muddled up in the system so her new name since she was adopted was not in their system, and they couldn’t find her). Eventually they checked her in under her previous surname and we went to the children’s ward for triage.

I must say I was impressed – there was only 1 other child in the waiting room and we were seen right away. A lovely nurse came and took all her vital signs, though my daughter got very distressed as she was freaked out by the new place and bright lights and strange people touching her and trying to tape monitors onto her, which is a lot to take in when you’re 3 and you clearly feel like crap. So there was a lot of screaming and struggling (the nurse said that was a good sign generally that she was feeling better) and they moved us to a bed in a little cubby behind a curtain to wait.

The nurses were lovely and brought her lots of nice cold juice and a sandwich, and while I was talking to one of the nurses she swooned again in my arms and went limp and unresponsive. I was freaked out but glad the nurse was standing right there so she saw it too and at least they knew it wasn’t just me being a paranoid mum! And she came around again very quickly.

The nurse went to check on her temp again and they gave her a dose of ibuprofen after that.

Of course, by the time we saw the doctor an hour later, the ibuprofen had kicked in (and so had all the juice!), so she was perky and happy playing and her temp was right back down to normal. The doctor looked her over and checked a few more things, and we did a urine sample to rule out an infection, looked in her ears and throat and listened to her heart etc. The Doc reckoned it’s probably just a nasty virus, as there are so many going around at the moment, (there have also been recent cases of Chicken Pox and Hand, Foot and Mouth at her nursery, but I couldn’t see any spots or flaky skin etc).

They gave me a revised dosage of meds I could give her based on her weight, which was higher than the bottle says, and then sent us home. The Dr was very concerned when I mentioned her records haven’t been linked, as they had to ask me a whole load of awkward questions (“Is this child known to social services?” “has this child been in the care system?”) because as doctors, it’s very concerning if a 3-year old hasn’t been seen by any medical professionals at all for 2.5 years…. I reassured them she is all up to date with her vaccinations and registered at our local GP etc but I still need to get to the bottom of why on earth her medical records are missing at some point!

After that we took a taxi home and I tried to feed her (she wasn’t really hungry) and put her to bed. Later that night her fever shot back up to 40 degrees again so I called 111 again, and got through after 30 mins. They have to ask you a series of questions before they can triage you, in case an ambulance is needed, so they ask things like “Has she been bleeding profusely?” and “Is she responsive?”. Looking down at my sleeping baby girl lying next to me in my big bed, burning up with fever, my mind flashed back to her limp and floppy in my arms in the car and the sheer panic I felt trying to get her to A&E.

I think those might be the most terrifying three words in the English langauge.

Saturday night I set my phone alarm to go off every 2 hours and dosed her up with Ibuprofen, and waited for the out of hours doctor to call. By the time they did it was 5am, but it was still helpful and reassuring to be able to talk to someone. She reassured me that I did the right thing going to A&E, and that febrile convulsions are very common in children when they have a fever. She said it looks very scary when they start shaking like that but usually aren’t too serious.

Sunday we cancelled all our plans again and both of us were utterly exhausted so we lay on the couch watching movies and napping together. She still wasn’t eating much but drank loads of juice which was good. By Monday morning she was mostly fine again but we were still waiting on the Covid test results so she had to stay home with me while I worked. We finally got her negative test result on Tuesday so I took her back to nursery.

As if this wasn’t enough, on Tuesday night she was complaining that her bottom was hurting at bedtime and although I had a good look (it looked fine to me) she was uncomfortable and crotchety. Lots of crying and it took a long time to settle her. On Wednesday I forgot about it, as she was fine in the morning, but on Wed night once again at bedtime she was crying and uncomfortable and complaining her bum was really sore. She didn’t sleep well and kept waking and crying in the night. I googled it and realised she probably had threadworms, which is common in children and mostly a problem at nighttime.

Thursday I bought some medicine and started washing all our sheets and towels, but it hadn’t kicked in by bedtime and the poor kid was screaming hysterically all evening, just so uncomfortable and upset. It was a very rough night indeed!

Thankfully by Friday the medicine worked and she was feeling much better, but it was quite a lot to cope with in 7 days!

The good news is she is now completely recovered and worm-free and fit and healthy again. I’ve been immersed in sorting out all the ongoing building/plumbing/electrical work at Chateau d’Omnishambles, plus you know, attempting to hold down my full-time job, but looking back on that awful week I’m not sure I’ve fully recovered yet from all the drama and stress and sheer blind panic. It’s been a hell of a time these last 6 weeks what with one thing after another after another, and I just hope like hell we are due for a few weeks of peace and quiet and only nice, good, happy things for a little while….

(To end on a more positive note, as is my wont, my beautiful new doors were installed today and they are GORGEOUS – and they lock and everything! And they don’t have shards of broken glass in them! What LUXURY!)

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