Winter is vile, I hate it WITH A PASSION. I am not one of those who like’s it when the frost sets in, or when you can get the knit wear out. I much prefer a flip-flop and a pair of shades any day, every day in fact. One of the biggest gripes is the germs and resulting illness. Like all of you I am SO over it. I am fed up of my pockets overflowing with tissues, yet never having enough. I am over the snot, oh so much snot, the coughs, sticky calpol fingers, temperatures, bad bums and sickness. Yes it is only January. It has been brutal.
With all the poorly however comes the age-old mum dilemma – do we take our little ones to the doctor? The little ones who can’t yet tell us what is wrong. I know as the years go on we get better at making this decision or just more relaxed and they become more vocal, yet still when the sickness gets that bad we are left debating do we take them to the doctor or not?
I will be shamefully honest with you, I have not always got this decision right. My little boy was born premature and poorly. As a result the firs 6 – 12 months of his life were tough for him, especially the winter months. He was about 5 months old, 3 corrected, still very tiny, not even 10lb. He had a bit of cold, he had been very grizly, no major temperature but very unsettled. We had been up for 2 days and nights in a row. I remember trying to put him down for a nap one of the afternoons and becoming actually angry. Why wasn’t he sleeping?! I was exhausted. I knew he wasn’t 100%, I knew he had a cold, but did I think he needed a GP? Would I just be another mum bringing another virus into the surgery? After the second night Mr Tammy took over and took my boy at about 7am, and took him downstairs so I could sleep. At which point I finally decided he needed to go to the doctor, surely this constant cry and discomfort wasn’t right? So Mr Tammy made an appointment.
2 hours later, so no sleep later, we were at the GP who sent us straight to the hospital. His breathing was laboured and he didn’t look too clever, also there were no machines to hook him up to in order to check his obs. Having been out of hospital all of 3 months it was painfully familiar arranging child care for his sister, driving the 15 miles to the hospital. We didn’t have to go through A&E but straight to the children’s ward. There was a queue of poorly children waiting to be triaged. We were quickly seen by one of the admission nurses, who didn’t, unlike everybody else, take us to be triaged. Nope. She took one look at Toby and said to everybody else (who we had queue jumped) ‘sorry I am just going to have to see this little boy first he looks really poorly’. He was. He was quickly taken to the ward and hooked up to the machines, which revealed his SATS were in the 80s, not ideal they should be above 94, although they were in the 20s when he was born. Anyway, he was struggling to breath, it was hurting him hence the groan and he wasn’t able to get the required level of oxygen.
As poorly goes, he didn’t have any exotic illness or serious disease. He simply had bronchioltitis, which I am sure you know is common in babies in winter. It is just the vulnerable or premie ones sometimes find it harder to combat. He was in hospital for 5 days, on oxygen for 4 and tube fed for 3. It was a painful time for all. The absolute worst thing though was the guilt. I know reading this you must be thinking how effing ridiculous I was not taking him sooner. Trust me I felt it. I honestly thought he would just be sent home with advice for calpol and fluids. Like his sister was the year before. Had I thought for a second his breathing was hindered or he was in the pain he was I would have taken him in a heartbeat. I am ashamed to say I got it wrong.
This wasn’t our only stay either. We were back a few weeks later, 5 days before Christmas. Similar thing, in patient for a couple of days and home for Christmas. We even had a third stay, after an emergency out of hours 111 call. The poorly preemie hadn’t been able to keep his milk down for a day, was alarmingly pale and hydration was a real concern. So off to hospital we were sent and there we stayed for a week until my boy could keep his milk down. Both times I did not hesitate to seek medical help. It was amidst these few months I wrote this post about surviving the children’s world.
Now, I must say I don’t shy away from the GP. I am scarred from our previous experience. I am a better physician than I was and am usually sent away with antibiotics because the visit was required. Not every time however, recently I was just prescribed calpol and fluids and sent away with a virus but I wasn’t sorry and I ashamed to have gone.
Instinct is a wonderful thing and 99% of the time it is correct, but for me, if I am ever in any doubt now and until my children can tell me otherwise, I will be making that appointment.
What about you? Do you worry about taking your little ones to the GP? Do worry about being told it is a virus and that you are time-wasting? Or are you there getting your child the attention they are entitled to? #whatwouldyoudo?