Is There a Doctor in the House?

My little Pumpkin gets sick.  A lot.  I am reassured (?) by my doctor that this is because of all the lovely germs she is exposed to at her child care centre, and not because of defective care on my part, or some obscure, rare, genetic or chronic condition.

It doesn’t help much, though.  He told me that, where most infants and toddlers can expect to get one infection every six weeks, childcare babies are more likely to get one in every two weeks.  And Pumpkin is certainly living up to standard.

She’s sick again, hence my choice of topic today.  She gets every cold going around, and they all hit her chest like a ton of bricks.  I have a ventolin puffer and spacer for her courtesy of the good folk at the Princess Margaret Hospital – in my opinion, a much-maligned institution, but better than the stories may have you believe – at least their emergency room is.

She gets a wheeze  which would make an 85 year old, long-time smoking emphysema patient proud, and coughs through the night.  A friend of mine recently tried out a humidifier in her baby’s room during a particularly bad cold and was very impressed how it reduced her daughter’s cough.  I really must look into it, though it kind of boggles my mind how making the air thicker with water would help with a cough.

Evidently it does though.  I’m thinking I should have picked one up today, rather than just thought about it, now that I type this to a background from her bedroom of hacking coughs.  Looks like it’s going to be a looonng night!

When Pumpkin was a teeny weeny thing, she never really got sick.  When she cried, it would be fairly easy to identify the problem, as there were only so many things it could be, and then to resolve it.  I know, I know, I was lucky, she was a pretty easy baby, hardly ever colicy, etc.

I know an old man who successfully raised a brood of children of his own and is now working on the grandchildren – along with his lovely wife.  When Pumpkin and I were visiting once (I think she was around three months old), he told me that if his children cried, he nearly always could put it down to one of the three T’s – Teeth, Tummy or Trousers.

This simple, yet descriptive list of possible reasons for a crying baby has stayed with me since.  Pumpkin has not had a tooth come through for some months; they do take their sweet time, only 5 so far at nearly 15 months.  But they certainly can give her some trouble, no question.  And if babies have a tummy ache, whether it’s from wind, tight trousers or hunger,  you know about it!  Same with a dirty nappy.

But nowadays, when Pumpkin cries it is more likely to be because she is coming down with yet another fever and cough.  And what then?

We have had two trips to the emergency room so far for breathing difficulties.  We have also been to the doctor on many an occasion.  At one point she had a chest infection which I dutifully applied antibiotics to.  She seemed to recover, but then she always has a runny nose, and I was so used to her coughing I didn’t really notice that it was still there.

What happened next over a period of several days is that her cough got worse, she lost all interest in anything, her temperature skyrocketed for three days straight and she refused to eat.

It was the temperature which brought me to the doc.  I thought it was teething – you hear and read so much about how miserable they can get when teething, and she was smacking at her cheek a lot.  Turns out, poor little Pumpkin had one hell of a chest infection (probably the other one never quite went away and it had been brewing and making her – and me – miserable all that time).

But we are so used to being told that it is just a virus, you have to push through it, etc, that I didn’t react until it was really bad.

Sigh, chalk that down to another lesson learned.  I will be taking her to the doctor tomorrow, even if it is a virus, at least I’ll know.

Or will I?  After the first trip to the emergency room, when she was given a puffer and I was told that it was just a bad virus, I took her to the doctor the following day for a follow up, on the hospital’s recommendation.  Turns out, by then she had developed a chest infection too.

They can flare up so quickly!

It’s not all bad news, though.  The doc gave me three signs to watch out for, to tell if it’s an infection:

  1. A temperature above 39⁰ - lower than this and it could just be teething or a virus
  2. A change of behaviour
  3. Loss of appetite

Of course, do not hesitate to take your child to the doc or the hospital if you’re at all unsure.  It’s far better to feel a bit silly than to find yourself with a suddenly critically ill baby on your hands!  The reassurance you can get is SUCH a blessing, especially if you’re going on little sleep.  Believe me, I know first hand.

OK – I’m off to try to get some sleep… wish me well!!

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