As a parent, is there really anything more concerning than when our children are sick and we don’t know why? It can be frustrating and sometimes terrifying. It’s all the more terrible when you’ve taken your child to several doctors and they give you the same diagnosis, but you just feel deep down that they’re wrong.
This is what happened to me last week. My three year old son, Jude, had a fever Saturday night. We didn’t think much of it. He’s been catching a lot of illnesses since starting preschool and we just figured this would pass much the same as the others and we may have a sleepless night or two in the meantime. Sunday came along and he was very lethargic and burning up with fever. His temperature went up to 103.5 and we took him to urgent care. The doctor there looked him over and said it was a viral infection. We were to give him Calpol and Nurofen (England’s names for Tylenol and Motrin, respectively) to control the fever as well as make sure he received plenty of liquids and fluids.
He didn’t sleep much at all Sunday night. Monday afternoon we took him to our doctor to get a second opinion because the fever was staying up much more than it was staying down and he was so lethargic. Our doctor gave us the same diagnosis as the urgent care doctor. Monday evening saw Jude sitting on the couch in a daze and vomiting after he tried to eat a baby carrot, the only thing he’d eaten in quite awhile. His temperature was nearing 104 and we were terrified. They have a service here in England called NHS Direct where you can call for non-emergent medical advice. We called them to find out if vomiting would be a normal symptom of his viral infection. They asked us several questions about Jude and his symptoms and then they said they were sending paramedics to us to check him over. They assured us there was no reason to panic, they just wanted to be more safe than sorry and it would be quicker for the paramedics to come to us than for us to go to the hospital.
By the time the paramedics arrived, Jude’s temperature was coming down significantly and he was acting more alert than he had the entire day. The paramedics came in with a camera crew. Apparently they’re training a new paramedic and documenting the experience for a new show that’s to air on BBC3 in the new year. We signed the release to be on the show. Don’t ask me why. I looked awful, our house looked awful, our daughter was in mismatched clothes from having a blowout earlier, and Jude was sat in a diaper on towels on our couch in case he threw up again. That was surreal to say the least, and the very last thing we expected. Our main concern, however, was Jude, and we were thrilled to see him perking up. We thought maybe he was finally coming out of it. The paramedics agreed with the diagnosis of a simple viral infection, but they did offer to take us to the hospital for further evaluation as they are admittedly not pediatricians. Since Jude was perking up considerably at that point, we trusted what they said and stayed home.
Jude slept in our bed Monday night. I should say, he laid in our bed. There wasn’t much sleep to be had. He couldn’t get comfortable, his fever was back, and he was coughing now as well. Tuesday morning arrived and he was just as miserable as he’d been Monday night. I told Chris that something wasn’t right. I felt sure that if this was a simple viral infection, he’d be showing signs of improvement, not getting worse. I begged him to take him to the ER, which he readily agreed to and off they went. A few hours later, Chris called to tell me that they also think it’s a viral infection, but they’re going to do a chest x-ray to be sure. Then another specialist saw Jude and listened to his chest like all the other doctors had done. However, this one listened to the side of Jude’s chest, just below his armpit, and the other doctors hadn’t done that. He listened there and said right away that it was pneumonia. A chest x-ray confirmed that it was, indeed, pneumonia. They showed us the x-ray, and there, on the right side of his chest, they explained, was a triangular patch of pneumonia.
They admitted him to the hospital for IV antibiotics. Jude was in the hospital from Tuesday until Thursday receiving IV antibiotics. He completed a round of oral antibiotics and is on the mend. His pneumonia is gone, but he may have a cough from it for a couple of weeks. Sadly, he has another viral infection on top of that. Poor kid can’t catch a break.
We had a long, stressful, terrifying week. The point of this post is to say, always trust your maternal instincts! I felt like I was being one of “those” moms who won’t trust anyone’s word on the matter and was too pushy with the doctors, but it turns out, it was a great thing that I was. Don’t be afraid to persist if you feel like something’s not right with your child. After all, we know our children better than anyone else. Better safe than sorry.