After all of last week’s talk of poo, this week is a little more sombre. Girly no1 continues to decorate our new house in poo whilst Girly no2 has been scaring the hell out of us. She has been wheezing and swelling, covered in rashes and experiencing something I now know to be called “intercostal recession”. Sometimes I wonder why anyone has children….
In a previous post I talked about how awful it feels when your baby hurts themselves. It is just as bad when they are ill. Last week, we had an ambulance turn up to the house. I know. It was the turn of Girly no2 to scare us silly for the second time in her seven months on the planet. Since her bronchiolitis at 3 weeks old, she’s been pretty healthy. She gets the odd cold but nothing like the way my little snot factory Girly no1 gets them. No2 gets a little snuffle, a bit warm but just keeps on smiling that big goofy grin. She’s a smiley trooper! Over the last two weeks though, she has had a severe and “rare” case of urticaria (hives to you and I) and a chest infection leading to me falling a little bit in love with two men in green uniform.
Typically the hives came on whilst I was out being very drunk at the Races. A rare occurrence of course! Both girlies were staying with Mother In Law, and the following morning whilst I was enjoying wallowing in my hangover, I received a picture of a rash creeping up her legs. Being something of a rashy kid anyway I didn’t think much of it. I rolled over and carried on dozing, gazing wistfully at Grazia wishing I could lift my head up to see it or even open one eye to read it. We dragged ourselves out of bed, paid an extortionately priced taxi to collect our car (as if we were ever going to get the train really) and headed over to pick them up. The rash had spread to her tummy and back but we knew it wasn’t meningitis and she seemed fine. By Sunday morning however, her whole body was covered in huge red lumps and any tiny bit of skin left uncovered was so swollen it was bruised. She was a Michelin man with a Barney the dinosaur coat. We called 111 and headed off to the out of hours doctor at the local hospital. Urticaria was diagnosed and treated with steroids. But it got worse before it got better We were given antihistamine – unlicensed in under two’s in the UK. We did some research and found out it was approved in America so decided to give it to her. It started working almost immediately. Thank goodness. Seven days later, the rash was almost gone.
Eight days later however, she was still snotty, sounding a little chesty and starting to cough. Only I could have two children with SuperMegaColds in the biggest heatwave since the Seventies. Papa Bear was here to celebrate Fathers Day with his long-term girlfriend, we’ll call her Arty K, and my brother, Uncle G. Both girls had been in the paddling pool, Girly no1 impressing me by actually getting out of the pool to wee on her potty. I was reminded again how much like me she was, and not like her Daddy! We had just lit the barbie and made all the food. No2 just couldn’t get to sleep in the heat, I brought her down and was instantly worried by how breathless she sounded. I took her round everyone individually and made them listen. Papa Bear and Arty K said she did sound a little short of breath but told me not to worry. Uncle G smiled at me through the haze of Stella. Husband did his grave face…it scared me so I handed him the baby and ran away to play with the potatoes. A few minutes later he called me over and pointed out her “intercostal recession”, which means she was struggling to breathe and her skin was pulling in under her ribs and at her throat. The Paramedic Friend had told us this was exhausting for babies and needed immediate attention. We nodded at one another and I picked up the phone dialling 111 for the second Sunday in a row. Answering a series of questions the operator said “Ok, I’m going to send out an ambulance, can you confirm your address for me”. I couldn’t get the words out so was told to give the phone to someone who could talk. Husband took over. We paced up and down for the next ten minutes waiting for a gentle knock on the door. Instead we heard sirens in the distance and then saw blue flashing lights through the window. It set me off again so I greeted the men in green suits in a puddle of tears.
Kristian and Mike (my NBF’s – that’s new best friends in our world) strolled in, not taking their eyes off no2 for a second. They did all of their tests, expertly moving around without upsetting her once. Fathers of four and six respectively, they were amazing. They put me, Husband and Girly no2 at ease, instantly confirming that we weren’t neurotic parents and this visit was warranted but there was no need to panic. They chatted comfortably about all sorts, sharing stories about their own families and explaining everything clearly but not remotely in a condescending way. When Girly no1 jealously stomped in half an hour later, Mike took her out to the ambulance, letting her pretend to drive and turn the lights on. She was in her element, basking in the attention. Kristian stayed with me chatting but all the time watching her breathe and counting breaths discreetly. He decided to send us to the hospital to see a doctor. Fortunately, I had put a cork in the Father’s Day prosecco when I heard how chesty she was. We jumped in the car leaving Papa Bear, Arty K and drunk Uncle G to deal with a slightly manic Girly no1.
We were called into Dr Asperger’s office within 20 minutes of getting to the hospital. He looked done. He walked like a zombie. He was sweating. His hair was ruffled. He did not look or sound like a happy man. Possibly because he was wearing a 3-piece suit in 30 degree heat. We gingerly followed him into his office immediately dropping a tub of leftover BBQ food all over his floor. He tried picking it up but every time he moved more crumbs fell out. Embarrassed that we even had it with us, Husband almost head butted him as he dived to the floor to help pick it up. The doctor, at about 5ft tall, then awkwardly got wedged in the doorway with my 6ft tall rugby player husband at which point I let out a loud snort of laughter. When everyone finally sat down I started to gabble about why we were there. He nodded “Ok, enough” moving my baby around into various positions and giving pointers about how to hold her to stop her grabbing at the stethoscope, his hair, his badge and anything else she could get her hands on. After performing his checks, he turned silently to his computer. I commented how warm his office was and how it wasn’t very fair that he didn’t have air conditioning. He looked at me pointedly – “I don’t feel the heat.” – and went back to his screen. I glanced up at Husband whose turn it was now to stifle a laugh. After what seemed like an endless silence, punctuated only by Girly no1 slapping his desk repeatedly with her little chubby hands, he announced that she had a chest infection and would need antibiotics and an inhaler. I asked how that would have come about mentioning that the GP last week said that the steroids would weaken her immune system. He shook his head, factually stating that she would have inhaled a germ that caused the infection and turned back to his screen. I asked a few more questions and was given lots of information in a very serious voice, not once smiling. He pointed us in the direction of a chemist and off we went on our merry way, relieved that it was nothing more serious.
We arrived back home at 9pm that Sunday, just 5 hours after the call to 111. Amazing – hats off to the NHS. Girly no1 had taken full advantage of the situation and was still awake, jumping out of bed and demanding more stories. But after the magic words from Husband, she was asleep within 60 seconds. After Girly no2 was tucked up in bed, we sat outside with (just the one) glass of prosecco reflecting on how incredible everyone had been that day, including Dr Aspergers. We realised just how lucky we have been in terms of illness and wondered how parents of sick and hurt children cope. That night I went into each Girly’s bedroom before bed, squeezing them until their heads nearly popped off and praying that this Sunday we’ll be back to scraping poo off the wall and the only number I’ll be dialling is the Indian takeaway.
We were, and are, in awe of the incredible paramedics, doctors, nurses and operators who helped us, and have to deal with far worse. We’re deeply thankful to them all, especially Kristian and Mike, who were tending to my Girly no2 instead of being with their own babies on Father’s Day. You guys are amazing. Please do share in the hope someone is friends with them and they see it!