This was me last night, just 24 hours ago, but already a distant memory. Thankfully.
Little N is teething, he’s got bright red cheeks and he’s constantly chewing and gnawing on anything and everything – his toys, the corner of the coffee table, coasters, my toes…the list goes on! We’ve been really lucky with his first five teeth and never really noticed a change in his behaviour or sleep pattern, so why should this tooth be any different.
Except this time it wasn’t just a tooth cutting through. Last night was different. We’d had a busy day out and about, he’d not napped as usual, so I expected him to be a little more grizzly and irritable, but he was inconsolable. He refused dinner, a tasty chicken and vegetable casserole. But maybe that was too warm while teething so I tried his favourite, yogurt, cold and easy to swallow if his gums were hurting. That wasn’t anymore successful and after refusing milk and water all day I knew he was poorly. Maybe this was a back tooth and causing him more pain than the previous ones, or maybe it was just making him feel rubbish.
I decided to get him ready for bed and try some calpol. Once he had a fresh nappy, clean pyjamas and was more settled he might take a bottle, or at least fall asleep and wake up for a late feed in a few hours.
That’s when the night went downhill. I’m not a mum who panics, I’ve always tried to stay a little hands off when he’s exploring, trying to stand or generally getting up to mischief. He’s a boy, he’s a baby and he’s learning. If I react every time he hurts himself, then he will react. I want him to learn to pick himself up, dust himself off and carry on playing, exploring or generally getting up to mischief. Except this was different. This was a rash and that can’t be good, right?
But even I was surprised at my mum instincts last night.
I found a rash. A red rash all over his back and it definitely wasn’t there earlier. His temperature had soared in the 10-15 minutes he’d been in his high chair and I knew that something was wrong. His grizzles and irritable behaviour became cries and screams, he was uncomfortable, in pain, and at the same time fighting hard not to fall asleep.
A quick search of meningitis symptoms and what to do with a glass, if there’s a rash, on the NHS Choices website and I realised he had a few of the key signs to be aware of. Without hesitation I was on the phone to NHS111 while Mum stepped in to calm little N. He was beside himself with screams, but she managed to calm him with endless repetitions of the wheels on the bus – her go to song!
The NHS is truly amazing, despite the never ending questions (some of which were a little alarming) I was told to keep him in just a nappy and t-shirt, not to cool him down too quickly, try to get him to take fluids (little and often) and wait for the on-call doctor to call within the next six hours. If his symptoms changed, call back and if he deteriorated, call 999 immediately.
Check, check and check.
While he was calm, and Mum was starting another verse, I dashed around getting ready for any and all eventualities. We were packed and ready for a hospital dash, new bottles, formula, snacks, extra layers, blankets and the car seat at the door waiting.
Still not panicking.
For the next hour we just waited. Little N was finally asleep, but restless. Mum made a quick cup of tea (because everything is better with tea right?) and sandwich for us both, my mobile was on charge and in arms reach ready for the doctor to call.
I’m not sure it was even an hour, I lost all sense of time watching, keeping track of his breathing and trying to get him to take some water whenever he stirred.
Luckily the doctor wasn’t concerned when I went through his symptoms and behaviour again, but she suggested I go to the duty doctor at our local hospital for a full check-up, even if it’s just so I could sleep knowing he’d been seen and given the all clear. Brilliant.
Ten minutes later and a call from the receptionist offered us an appointment in an hour. Perfect. Twenty minutes to the hospital and our bag was already packed and ready to go. So we waited.
Still not panicking.
We were seen within a few minutes of arriving at the hospital, the GP on call was brilliant and little N was the perfect patient while he had his ears, breathing and heart rate checked. All fine.
Just a virus. Phew.
We were given a prescription and the necessary ‘items’ to take a urine sample and dip test to check for any abnormalities, although this was just precautionary and we shouldn’t expect to find anything out of the ordinary in the results.
By the time we were home little N was still sleepy, still not hungry but pleased to be out of his car seat and cuddled against mama. Tears gone, sleep won the battle and we all settled in for a long and restless night, hoping the drugs would soon kick in.
So that was us, all night. Co-sleeping, because it was the only way he would settle, and it was the only way we both got any sleep between the waking and whimpering. It was a roller coaster night and I’ve drunk a lot of coffee today, but considering how the night could have gone, I’m not complaining.
The NHS regularly get bad publicity, and as a former NHS Communications Manager I know better than most, but last night proved that it’s not always deserved. It does work. NHS111, the out-of-hours GP service and the 24 hour pharmacy made everything that little bit easier.
Today is a new day. Little N is better, but still not himself (it must be a 48 hour virus). Fingers crossed we have a better night tonight, but if we don’t, I’ll just have to keep the coffee flowing again tomorrow!