Last Tuesday, the baby woke up kind of warm. He seemed happy enough, so I put it down to teething. By the evening though, he was very hot, very sleepy and very sad. There was nothing outwardly wrong with him, so he was given lots of cuddles, a cool bath and some Tylenol. He soon perked up and started wanting food, so we weren’t too worried.
The next morning he was feverish and lethargic again, but I was able to bring his temperature down with more of the same. He slept a lot and was fussier than normal, but I figured he was just fighting a bug. There was no vomiting, no diarrhea. He was still eating a bit and drinking lots of his milk, so we let him be.
The next day, the fever was down, so I thought he was on the mend, but on Friday, four days later, he woke with another high temperature.
I called the doctor.
Our doc is great — a long-time family friend with a no-nonsense approach to everything. What she doesn’t know, she will refer out, but she knows a LOT.
A few months prior, as though in anticipation of this, she had reminded me that a low-grade fever didn’t need much treatment, so long as the child was otherwise happy, playing and eating. Even a fever that spiked for 3-4 days was a sign of the body fighting infection.
But Friday was the fourth day and the baby was still sick. Plus, with the weekend approaching, I didn’t want to be stuck in a medicentre (or worse, an emergency room) waiting for an unfamiliar physician.
Mercifully, we were able to get an appointment for that morning (I suspect there are always a few spots kept back for emergencies), so I brought my still-sad little boy in, and in no-time flat he was diagnosed with an ear-infection. There was never any swelling or discharge that I could see, but after the first dose of antibiotics the fever was gone and he started to look better.
Over these last few days with a hot, miserable little boy clinging onto me for all he is worth, I thought about how terrible and how frightening it must be for parents who have limited or no access to a doctor. Feeling powerless to help your child when they are ill is truly the worst feeling in world. In between checking his temperature with my heart in my mouth as it swung from normal to very-high and back again, I thought about parents for whom a 4-day childhood illness translates into a critical amount of lost wages. I can’t imagine being forced to chose between looking after a sick baby and having enough money to buy food — but I know it’s a choice many people do have to make.
Even though my littlest guy is now finished the course of antibiotics and is back to his normal, smiley self, I find I’m hugging him a little bit longer and a little bit tighter. And knowing how lucky I am, I’m sending a little bit of love to families who are not so fortunate.