Friday, March 19, 2010


Despite all the fun of birthday celebrations, we've had the most awful couple of weeks. J-cub has now been ill with cold/cough type symptoms for over 6 weeks. We've been to the GP 3 times, and made 3 panicky calls to the GP out-of-hours service. They waver between telling us it's a virus (or a series of viruses), that it's a chest infection (and prescribed antibiotics), that he's having an allergic reaction the antibiotics (but continue giving them anyway), and that he's got gastroenteritis and conjunctivitis. Or it's a virus.

We've had days where he's been happy, and playing around like his normal little self, albeit with one eye glued shut with crusty, yellow gunk (yes, I do try to clean it, but it causes him such anguish that I feel like an awful mum for even contemplating it). He had conjunctivitis at birth, and was prescribed drops which I had to carefully squeeze in when he was otherwise occupied with nursing. Now though, a mere year later, apparently they don't like to prescribe anything, because it might be viral.

We've had days where he's coughed all day, and all night, and we've torn our hair out trying to calm him down enough that he'll stop panicking and start breathing normally (Calpol and water, say the doctors. All very well if the suggestion of either didn't cause your baby to go into hysterical back-arching, body-twisting attempts to escape from the syringe/sippy cup).

I've been to work on 4 hours sleep, and have coped admirably all day. I've stayed home from work (which has made me really popular, having only been back for a few weeks) and seethed about the fact that not only am I not getting paid, but I'm also paying for a nursery place which is not being used.

Since the antibiotics started, we've had a rash across his back which came, caused yet another swift burst of panicking, then mysteriously disappeared again. He's had near-constant diarrhoea, which has made me glad that we haven't yet got around to commencing our cloth-nappy adventure (more on that later). The last visit to the GP, a full week after he finished the course of antibiotics, was regarding this diarrhoea. The GP said it can take weeks (weeks!) for the gut to rebalance itself and get back to normal.

Then on Wednesday this week, I came home from work to be greeted by J-cub who giggled and reached his arms out for a welcome home cuddle. Enjoying this lovely "Oh I missed you so much Mummy!" cuddle, Jamie filled me in on the projectile vomiting, diarrhoea, 4 changes of clothes, and lack of anything tangible being eaten all day. Stupidly, I asked "What was the sick like?". J-cub decided to helpfully demonstrate, by shooting the entire contents of his stomach all over me and everything within a 2 foot radius. Lovely.

It's really hard to find the balance between being an over-protective first-time parent, who turns up at A&E in the middle of the night because her baby isn't himself, and being responsible. Before I became pregnant, I hated going to the doctors, I hated hospitals, and I would rather cough my guts up for 6 weeks than admit that I might need a course of antibiotics. I used to panic at the thought of even ringing the doctors for an appointment, sure that they would think I was wasting their time (it doesn't help that when you feel like shit, and ring up for an appointment, they say "Is it an emergency?" If you answer no, which obviously it isn't or you'd be on your way to A&E, then you get booked in to see the doctor in 3 weeks time. When you'll be better. But saying "Yes", well that's just a bit too melodramatic for me.).

Now though, I'm having to get used to going to the doctors (a lot), and ringing the out-of-hours service (because if you ring NHS Direct, you have to go through half an hour's worth of questions, and then they tell you to ring the out-of-hours GP anyway, and you have to say it all again). But I still feel like a fraud, and like I'm wasting everyone's time, and like I should instinctively know when he should be seen and when I should cope on my own. I don't know, though. I'm terrified something will happen to him, that could have been prevented if I'd had him seen. I know I need to get over this, and I know that with time, I'll get used to saying "Give it a rub" rather than "Hop in the car and we'll pop down for an X-ray".

I also think that we're very lucky that in a whole year, this is really the first time that he's been properly poorly for a prolonged period of time. Aside from the bout of gastroenteritis around Christmas, and other mild colds and tummy bugs, he's had a surprisingly healthy year. But all that has done is to lull me into a false sense of security, and is possibly causing me to overreact now. I also need to remember that these are just run-of-the-mill illnesses, not something awful or scary or life-threatening that so many other parents have to go through. And I need to be (and am) thankful for that.

I just wish he would get better. I'm going stir-crazy in the house again: we can't meet up with friends, or go to groups, or go swimming. I think he's as bored as I am, and there has been far, far too much CBeebies on, and getting rid of that addiction is a battle I'm not at all looking forwards to.

The up-side to all this sitting around, is that we've created two awesome new games. One is called bucket-head, and the other is called balloon-face. I haven't captured balloon-face yet with the camera, but it involves holding a balloon up to your face, then lowering it and saying "Boo!" (or, in J-cub's case, lowering it and giggling). Bucket-head is self-explanatory, I think:


Tammy Hanna said...

Oh man Beth. I feel for you guys. I can relate to all of this. Last night (after only a week of being ill), Jake was screaming so much we nearly took him to A & E. Then he calmed down and promptly fell asleep and we went the other extreme of thinking maybe we could go on our planned weekend away after all.

We ended up taking him to our GP surgery this morning cos he woke up with a rash. I hate ringing for appointments too, esp emergency ones. Luckily our surgery has a new system, where instead of making you feel like a moron for asking for an emergency appointment (and why do the receptionists always ask what's wrong - are they qualified to decide what needs seeing to???), they now have a system where if you ring before 11am, you get to see a triage nurse who will then refer you to a doctor if necessary.

If it's any consolation it looks like they all say the same thing about viruses. Jake's rash was described as viral too. But it does look like there is something nasty going round at the moment.

I'm pleased to hear that at least J-cub's able to enjoy bucket head and balloon face!!

Big hugs and get well wishes to him. And well done you for coping on so little sleep. x

Tammy Hanna said...

PS This post reminds me, I have some cute pics of Jake playing mixing bowl head. Must post soon.

Anonymous said...

I sooo know what you mean about not knowing how much to panic! Sounds like you're doing a great job though. Hope he gets well soon xx Oh, and I hope you don't catch it too - I've just caught Thomas's latest virus and I have to say, I can now see why he sat around looking sorry for himself for so long. I've missed 2 days of work too :-S

Beth said...

Thanks girls - it's nice to know I'm not the only one struggling with this! I sometimes feel that all other mamas instinctively know what to do and it's just me who's fumbling around blindly.

Here's to summer hurrying up and getting here so we can have a break from all these nasty viruses :(