My son has been very poorly this week, but is now on the mend. For all interested parties, including the lovely people who've been in contact via Facebook, here's the drama in full...
On Sunday afternoon William started complaining of the occasional tummyache, but nothing dramatic. On Monday afternoon Healey got a call him from the nursery. They said he had a high temperature and earache and were confirming that it was ok to give him Calpol. Healey rang me to let me know. Half an hour later they called again to say his temp hadn't responded to the Calpol so I jumped in a taxi. By the time I got there he'd - predictably - perked up and ran across the nursery to me. He seemed warm and a little miserable but was excited to see the taxi and his usual chatty self all the way home, racing me to the door! I asked Wills if his ear hurt and he said no. He then proceeded to ask for everything edible he could think of: biscuits, fruit, pasta and so forth! I gave him a fromage frais and he watched CBeebies until he finally fell asleep at around 5pm. When he later woke up (after Heals had come home) he had a temperature of 102c and was pretty miserable, still complaing of headache and now also stomach and lower pains, doubling up and crying. I suspected a urine/kidney infection (something I myself am prone to) so I checked the NHS Direct website but all the symptoms were either disparate or conflicting (during this time I also checked William for signs of meningitis, as I was worried about the headache) so I rang the NHS Direct phoneline (as he's under 5 years old and they say to so that in any case.)
That was when mummy lost it, I'm afraid...
"Welcome to NHS Direct. We are sorry but due to the swine 'flu pandemic we are extremly busy. If you are calling about swine 'flu, blah, blah, blah...call the following number, blah, blah, blah. If you wish to use our online symptom checker, go to www dot blah, blah, blah... or call the following number and so forth blah, blah, blah... If you have any other enquiry, etc, please stay on the line.
So I stayed on the line.
"Thank you for calling NHS Direct...blah,. blah. blah...swine 'flu, press 1...blah, blah, blah...pandemic, press 2...other enquiries, press 3..."
So I pressed 3.
"We are sorry that due to the swine 'flu pandemic all our operators are busy. If your call is urgent, please try again later."
Click...and they cut me off!
"IF YOUR CALL IS URGENT, CALL BACK LATER?!!" What the heck??!!!
Listen mate; if my call is bloody urgent - which it potentially is - I'm calling bloody 999!
How then phone didn't end up smashed against the far wall is still a mystery to me.
Anyway, clever Daddy suggested we ring the GP's surgery and listen to the Primary Care Trusts' out of hours service. So I rang it and listened...
"Hello. The surgery is closed...etc...please call 0 something incoherent 5 something else incoherent...voice fading altogether...etc."
So I hung up and rang back...same story, but voice faded on different numbers this time, so I suspected it was a bad line rather than a problem with their message.
So I rang back and it was engaged...
I tried once more, turned up the volume to max, put it on speaker and and dictated the phone number to Healey. Who wrote down the wrong numbers entirely and even added some of his own...
###Deep breath...holding in the scream...###
Rang the GP's number again. Engaged.
###Let out some very angry words I shouldn't have (quietly so as not to reach the ears of my by-now very poorly 3-year-old son.###
Rang back. Listened again. Wrote down the numbers correctly. Had mionr row with heals about our respective listening/dictation abilities.
Finally phoned the Primary Care Service. Spoke to a very pleasant chap and explained William's symptoms. He told me someone would be in touch as soon as possible, but with the swine 'flu pandemic, they were all very busy, so...blah,blah, blah." I thanked him, hung up, took William's temperature again, gave him more drinks...and waited.
3/4 of an hour later a nurse practitioner called and said it sounded like "one of these viruses going around" and that I was "doing everything right but if he's settled (on Daddy's lap) thennot to disturb him but call bak if he gets worse or (as I predicted) take him to the GP in the morning."
Cut to next day (Tuesday) and William was no better, if not worse. I made an appointment with the GP for that afternoon and took him in a taxi. Of course by the time we got there he was much better...but the GP diagnosed an ear infection and prescribed infant paracetamol and antibiotics (Amoxycillin.) I was a little bothered that he hadn't seemed to take the diarrhoea or constant headache into consideration, but I'm not a doctor, so what do I know..To his credit, however, he was great with William and Wills was more than happy to let him do all his tests. We walked round to Boots then to the cashpoint for some money, then into Fizzy Kids soft play centre to wait for Healey to pick us up. Walked in to find a group of very large (in both senses) children viciously smacking each other with the plastic balls and generally wreaking havoc in both he play and cafe areas. One particularly heavy lad jumped right onto and over the back of the sofa I was actually sitting on! The balls were becomingly increasingly more dangerous to me and William and I thought about complaining to a member of staff, then noticed one of their dads sitting right amidst the chaos, seemingly not only ignoring it but actively encouraging it all...
Anyway, William had a little play and a lie-down on the sofa next to me and I gave him a dose of paracetamol. (I was expecting a bottle of the generic stuff, but actually got a large-size bottle of Calpol - for free! Under 16s are exempt from paying for meds, of course.) Just after half five Heals turned up and we went home. I phoned Mum back with an update (she'd called in the morning, just after I'd made the doctors' appointment.)
Next day; Wednesday. William came in our room at 6am with what was now a very severe headache and still had a temperature of 100+ I phoned the GP again as the regular doses of Calpol (and also infant ibruprofen) obviously weren't touching the pain, but after making the appointment I realised we might see the same doc again who might simply stand by his diagnosis and tell us to merely wait for the meds to start working. So I suggested we go to A&E instead (as the primary service is shut during surgery hours.) Heals tried to give William his second dose of antibiotics but he'd remembered how it had tasted yesterday and refused point-blank. It's supposed to taste of banana...! He then lay on the floor, head in his hands, obviously in pain in his head so I took the bull by the horns and insisted we go to A&E. Heals cancelled the GP appointment and off we went.
Predictably, as soon as William saw the ambulances he perked up again, but the triage nurse in the children's A&E dept had, of course, seen all that before so we didn't feel like complete paranoid parents! She tested his pulse rate and blood pressure, took down all the details and we were seen almost immediately by the paediatric doctor. By this time Wills had had enough of being poked and prodded by doctors and made no secret of it...He felt so ill and got so distressed that I had to leave the cubicle so he didn't see the tears in my eyes.
The tests showed that William did in fact have a very severe ear infection which had spread down his Eustachian tube to his throat and beyond. The doc said that Wills must be in an awful lot of pain (correct!) and that it would indeed have caused the ongoing headache. The triage nurse had told us to alternate paracetamol and ibruprofen every two hours, up to 4 times a day, but the doc said to just give the paracetamol every three hours...Hmmm...I guess we just continue to monitor him and use our parental common sense?!
Finally, he had to give a urine sample...and he's not potty trained...so he had to have something which looked like a small, transparent Hoover bag around his 'personal equipment' which he absolutely hated because it was stuck on to his body and very uncomfortable. He moaned and cried and squirmed for a long while, but I distracted him with the dept's toy kitchen and trucks, until 11am exactly when we checked and - yes! - he'd 'given a sample' (we won't dwell on the accompanying diarrhoea...eurgh!) They checked it immediately and it was all fine, which was not really a surprise, thank goodness.
So we left the hospital, feeling much better now that William had had a thorough check-over and we now knew the extent of the ear infection and the reason for the headache, etc. We dropped the car off at the garage (to have the exhaust fixed - yet again!) then popped into the local greasy spoon for a well deserved fry-up each and a little something for Wills. Then time for home and to phone the nursery with the update.
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That afternoon I had an appointment with my new Consultant Psychiatrist, which is always an anxious time. My Dad drove me and brought me home (Heals was, of course, looking after William) but I needn't have been concerned, though - the new doc is brilliant! Told me some VERY interesting things about my new and old medication and is generally a very polite and friendly chap! (Will give you the details in my next blog post...too much going on right now!)
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BTW; An interesting aside: Healey had booked yesterday off ages ago, to do some allotment maintenance and to help with the Holiday Club BBQ at church. If he hadn't been around then I couldn't/possibly wouldn't have taken William to the hospital and he'd still be in pain and without adequate painkillers and I'd be beside myself with worry. Also, I would have had to cancel my appointment with the psyche doc, as Wills was unable to go to nursery and I couldn't have taken him with me. Once again, God has shown that He puts people where they NEED to be, rather than where they simply WANT to be!
PHEW!!! That was a long post - thanks for sticking with me..!