As a new parent there is always some uncertainty when it comes to having a sick child. A part of you debates whether every sniffle, cough, and fever warrants a trip to the doctor. You find yourself online, googling every symptom your child is experiencing, and before you know it you probably have yourself convinced that the mild fever your baby has is potentially life threatening.
We have all been there.
We have all gone worst case scenario over the tiniest of flu symptoms. We have all called our Dr’s offices with a detailed list of symptoms and a timeline for when they first started appearing. We have spent hours in waiting rooms only to find out that it’s a mild cold that will resolve itself – or that the ear pulling is just your babes way of dealing with teething pain – and most of the time that is exactly what it is.
But what happens when your gut tells you otherwise?
What do you do when your darling babe’s mild fever doesn’t go away?
Last Sunday – a week ago yesterday – we found ourselves in the Emergency Room of our local hospital. My little monster had spiked a fever, his eyes swollen and stuck together with what looked like green slime. While the last thing I wanted to do was spend an evening in the ER, I didn’t feel comfortable waiting until the following morning to see our family doctor – especially given that only a few hours prior my babe seemed perfectly fine. After waiting (and waiting, and waiting, and waiting) we finally saw the Doctor. He briefly examined my child and within a few minutes he determined that my child had a cold – that just happened to be coming out his eyes.
The thing is, Stump (as nicknamed by his very funny grandma) wasn’t experiencing any other cold symptoms. There was no runny nose, no coughing, no sneezing – just a mild fever and slimey eyes. Honestly, I thought it was likely pink eye, so I was surprised when the doctor said it was viral and would resolve itself within a few days without any antibiotics. He gave us a small list of things to look out for – basically blood-shot eyes – and sent us on our way.
There was no examination of his ears or his throat, no cultures or swabs taken, and honestly it kind of felt like the Dr had already decided what was wrong with our child before he even looked at him. Most of the time I would have been happy with the result of our visit – being told it was only a mild cold – but this time there was something telling me it was more.
But I am not a medical professional.
So in that moment we listened to the Doctor and we went home to wait it out.
On Tuesday, after 3 nights of struggling with sleep he went down with ease. His fever leveled out and he barely stirred throughout the night. For most, it might seem as though he was turning a corner and normally I would have to agree. However, when he woke up things were very different.
He quit nursing.
He quit eating.
He quit wanting to drink from the same cup as me.
He wasn’t incredibly fussy, but he was unusually cuddly. I couldn’t put him down. If I even made motion of doing so he would freak out and hug me as if his life depended on it.
He wasn’t getting better – he was getting worse.
I immediately called Sandy at our Family Doctor and she managed to fit us in to a beyond busy and full schedule. On Wednesday afternoon we finally saw our family physician. Within seconds he could tell my child was not himself. Within minutes he determined that there was an awful ear infection in both ears. A few more moments passed and he determined that Tonsilitis was the likely culprit for why he was no longer eating or drinking.
A prescription was written and a follow-up appointment was made for the next day at 10 am.
That night – Wednesday – was the worst. His fever spiked to 103. Even with Tylenol and Advil he refused to eat or drink. We were lucky he managed to swallow his antibiotics. He fussed the entire night. It was one of the most difficult nights I had experienced as a mother.
When we had met with our doctor he discussed the possibility of having to administer antibiotics intravenously – if my child continued to refuse to drink or nurse. I knew there was a chance that we would, yet again, be going to the hospital with our child. I spent most of Wednesday night contemplating whether we should take our child straight to the ER but I wasn’t convinced that our concerns would be taken seriously and maybe even brushed off since he did successfully swallow his medicine.
The little man had at least a wet a diaper or two and wasn’t completely inconsolable. So rather than pack up to spend another night waiting in the Emergency Room we decided to wait until morning.
At 10am Thursday Morning, my family doctor sent us to the Pediatric Ward of the local hospital. My poor kid lost 4 pounds in 4 days – that’s almost 20% of his body weight. He was so dehydrated he looked like a different child. He was on a full maintenance IV for 48 hours and was blasted with wide spectrum antibiotics. He was kept in insolation because they weren’t exactly sure what was causing his fever. He spent two and a half miserable days in the hospital.
And I am so happy that he did.
Today – Monday – my child is almost back to his incredibly happy self. He is smiling, eating AND drinking on his own. He is crawling around and playing with his toys. His eyes are goop free and his is snot is clear. He is even back to his pre-sickness weight.
No parent wants to see their child in the hospital. It is a terrifying experience full of emotions I didn’t even know it was possible to feel. But this time it is what made my child feel better and if it wasn’t for following my instincts and calling my family doctor when I did, it could have been much worse.
Of course hindsight is always 20/20 and while looking back I may have done things a little differently – like head to the hospital Wednesday evening instead of waiting until Thursday Morning – but I still made the choice call my Family Doctor when I felt it wasn’t just a cold.
The thing is, you know your child better than anyone else. You know what is normal and what isn’t. If you have a gut instinct that something is wrong with your babe – follow it.
Even if you get brushed off by the first doctor you see.