Thankfully we have reached the other end of a nightmare week and all is well again.
Last Thursday, the 14th of June, Mia became very listless and irritable. When I asked her where’s the eina, she’d say “cheek” and point to her cheek – I first thought it was possibly teething pain. By Thursday night, she wasn’t keen on eating much, and by bath time she was running a fever of 40 degrees. I gave her an Empaped suppository at bedtime to help bring her temperature down.
On Friday morning when she woke up, her temperature was 38 degrees, and I could see she was feeling quite unwell. She didn’t want to eat, not even her beloved yoghurt – and I made an appointment to go see the GP. Our usual doctor was unavailable, so we saw another doctor. He gave her throat one look and said there are little sores on her tonsils and in her throat. He didn’t diagnose with a name, but gave her an antibiotic, and said to alternate with Empaped suppositories and Neurofen pain medication.
Saturday she was even more unwell – so listless, limp, not interested in any food whatsoever, we did manage to bribe some yoghurt and custard down her throat, but she was starting to refuse anything to drink as well, which was quite alarming. Still running a fever of around 38 degrees. We spent the day giving her pain meds and taking things very easy, hoping it would be the turning point. Little did I know what was still ahead of us…
On Sunday, she was still running a fever, and was refusing to eat a single thing, and was drinking the minimum. She wouldn’t drink her beloved morning bottle of milky rooibos tea. I saw sores forming in her mouth, in her cheeks. Phoned the medical centre and got an appointment with our usual doctor. She had a look in Mia’s mouth, and diagnosed Herpangina. I got such a fright, as all I heard was ‘herpes’ and ‘angina’ – but then the doc explained. Herpangina is part of the Coxsackie virus that causes very painful mouth and throat ulcers. The same virus causes Hand Foot and Mouth Disease.
The doc said that due to it being a viral illness, antibiotics won’t help, we have to ‘wait it out’, and treat the pain, and give her lots of fluids. Easily said, she was refusing most fluids by then, but the doc said she was not dehydrated, and will be fine.
We went home, armed with Voltaren suppositories and Andolex mouth gel to help numb the ulcers.
Spent the day enticing Mia with all sorts of liquids and soft foods, to no avail… I cannot imagine how painful it must have been, to have her mouth and throat so full of sores, and one on her chin as well.
On Monday the 18th of June she asked for her bottle of rooibos tea, and I rejoiced, as I lay down next to her while she drank it. She was about halfway with her bottle, when she suddenly vomited… All over herself, me, the pillow… Oh dear. She wasn’t just not eating, she also not interested in talking, walking, playing, nothing – just wanted to lie down or be on me. So alarming and frightening! Phoned our paed at Unitas hospital and got an appointment for 14h40 that afternoon. In the car on the way there Mia was so sleepy, I was so, so worried, and so relieved we were on our way to a specialist doctor.
I had written everything down on a piece of paper for the doctor, so that I was sure I remembered to start right at the beginning, and to list what the two GP’s had said and prescribed. Dr Engelbrecht took one look at Mia’s mouth, and said yes, it is indeed Herpangina, but it’s the worst sores she’s ever seen, and Mia is severely dehydrated and must be admitted to hospital, she needs a drip immediately. Oh gosh, I was so upset, I felt so guilty, as though I did something wrong, should have tried harder to get her to drink fluids. I still wonder whether I could have avoided the whole ordeal in some way.
The first thing I asked the doctor was whether I could stay with her the whole time. Yes, said the doc, in fact they encourage it – the kids are just so much more at ease then. Thank goodness!!
Off we went to the paed ward, but then got given the info needed to go book in at the hospital’s reception. I had to put my name down in the waiting list, phoned the medical aid for authorisation, and proceeded to wait for 30 minutes, with my very sick child falling asleep on my shoulder. After half an hour I got tired of waiting and went to the front and demanded to be helped immediately – they saw my desperation and I got to jump the queue. I found it ridiculous that the waiting time was that long – and I did write it on their feedback form at the end of our stay.
Once she was booked in, back up to the paed ward. Unitas is a very big hospital, sure got my fair share of exercise carrying Mia all over the place. First thing was that Mia needed to have blood drawn, the doctor wanted to test that there were no bacterial infections present, and have her drip put in. This was the second most traumatic 5 minutes of my life. I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me then, that it wasn’t in fact, the MOST traumatic 5 minutes… Having to hold my baby girl down while another nurse also held her down and another poked needles into her little hand was just terrible. However, once the drip was in, I had peace of mind that she was now receiving the necessary fluids her little body was lacking.
We were put in a room with 3 other kids. Mia had a cot, I had a lazy boy chair. By now it was 5pm, and I settled into the lazy boy chair with Mia sleeping on my chest, and could finally let everyone know what was happening. I gave in to my emotions and had a good cry!
I sent Wyn a list of what he could bring from home, and he arrived at about 7pm. He said he’d stay while I went home for a shower and change of clothes. On my way past the nurses’ station, I required about the availability of a private room. They said they had four, but were all full, I could put my name on a waiting list. I went home as quick as I could, then went back to the hospital, Wyn left, and I had to settle down for the night.
The nurse wheeled a machine in that would measure Mia’s temperature and pulse, and Mia just went berserk. She acted as though the thermometer was a huge needle, and it was so traumatic having to hold her still while they took her vitals. Luckily there was pain meds put into her drip then, and she fell asleep quickly.
I got comfy (well, as comfy as I could) in the lazy boy chair, and started reading my Kindle. 5 Minutes later they came and switched off the lights… So I put my book down and decided to try and get some shut-eye. The parents right next to us were still chatting away. The little boy opposite us was sobbing constantly. The nurses were in and out with vital checks, the kiddies cried and coughed, the door opened and closed, children cried/screamed in the ward… I don’t think I got an hour’s sleep… And when I did, it was to dream about me breaking the lazy boy chair!!
Tuesday morning. Mia wouldn’t eat, wasn’t keen to drink anything. Wyn had taken the day off work, and came to us early in the morning. The doc popped in, had a quick look at Mia, and said she’d be back later in the day, we must try and get her to drink fluids. Shame, Mia had such a smelly breath from all the sores in her mouth!
The nurse came and told us that a private room has become available, it’s R400 per night. We jumped at the chance! I ran down to reception to pay upfront for the first night, and we moved over. Much better!! Although the ward was still noisy, at least we could close the door. Had our own bathroom, our own basin in the room, and instead of a lazy boy chair, there was a hospital bed for me to sleep in. If we were going to have to do the hospital thing… private room was definitely the way to do it.
My mom came through from Pietersburg, armed with different types of cold drinks, yoghurt smoothies, juices, etc. She stayed a while, left, and came back again in the evening. Helped lots having her there! She stayed til Thursday afternoon. My grandfather and his friend came to visit every afternoon, bringing biltong sticks, choccies for me, and still water. My sister visited every day too, and my dad and brother popped in the one evening as well.
Mia continued to totally freak out whenever a nurse walked into the room, the poor lil body. I felt so, so sorry for her. I was so glad I could be with her constantly for reassurance. There was constant interruption, either for vitals, or to check the drip, or the drip’s alarm going off when it was empty, or cleaners, or meals arriving, etc. etc. On Tuesday Mia started drinking some rooibos tea again, but wouldn’t eat a single thing. Whatever we offered, she answered “noooo!” with a shake of her lil head.
On Wednesday morning the doctor stopped by again, looked at Mia, asked about her eating and drinking, shook her head and said that we’ll have to stay another night. Another day passed in a daze, with Mia screaming whenever a nurse came in, fitful, restless sleeping, and no eating. She did have two rooibos tea bottles during the day, and another at night, so that totalled about 600ml, which was so much better than the previous couple of days.
Thursday morning, I was really hoping the doc would let us go home… But she looked at Mia’s mouth, and said that the sores in her throat and on her tonsils were starting to look better, but there were still too many active sores in her mouth, and she had a very bad one on her chin too, that was just getting bigger. Mia was still refusing to eat – now going on 5 days of no solid food whatsoever, so distressing! She had one bite of yoghurt, then said “eina”, and refused to eat another bite. Doc said we need another day on the drip…
On Thursday Mia celebrated her turning 21 months old.
Thursday night was the most traumatic 5 minutes of my life. The nurse that was assigned to us came to remove the bandage on the drip and check it, and the way she re-bandaged Mia’s arm wasn’t the same as the way the other nurses’ had done it – Wyn and I could just see that something wasn’t right. 5 minutes after it being re-bandaged, we could see blood in the drip’s tube. Called the nurse, she came and had to take the bandage off again, and then called a second nurse to come and look. All this while Mia was screaming and crying so, so much, my heart was just breaking. When they had to peel the big plaster off her hand to get to the needle, I just had a meltdown too, and started sobbing along with Mia.
The needle was all bent in her skin! The nurse removed it, and oh my word, how Mia screamed. I had tears streaming down my face. I said to the nurse, “you mustn’t put the drip back in, you can’t, no, she’s had enough, I’ve had enough!” The nurse went to check with the matron, and luckily she said that as Mia was only receiving water and not medication through the drip anymore, and it was on its slowest setting, it would be OK to wait until the doctor came in the morning. I was so, so relieved. Mia got given a sedative syrup that night, as she hadn’t slept well any of the previous nights, and I was so glad that she could at last have a full night’s rest. She slept so well, and didn’t even wake any of the 3 times that the nurse came to take her vitals. It was also so nice to not have the drip alarm going off every few hours.
On Friday, I just knew we HAD to go home. I had had enough of the place. I started packing all our stuff before the doctor even arrived. Mia was showing interest in food, but still didn’t want to take a bite though, however, she had 100ml tea at 2am in her sleep, 200ml at 6am and another 200ml at 8am, so that her fluid intake was looking really good.
Doc Engelbrecht came by, and I think she could see on my face that I’d had enough – and thankfully she agreed and said we could go home. Oh happy day!!
We were given the medicine and booked out within an hour. A porter helped me carry our things to my car.
While in hospital, I spent a lot of time concentrating on the positive aspects, just so that I didn’t totally lose my mind. Other than knowing that Mia was in the best place for her at the time, because she was receiving vital fluids and meds from the drip, and other than enjoying a very comfortable temperature in our room while it was freeeezing outside – Mia and I bonded a lot in these 5 days in hospital.
She had her dummy, and her favourite soft toy Piglet, that she calls “Bubu” with her, and she held onto them all the time… But she was also constantly checking that I was nearby. I held her as much as I could. I held her hand as she slept. I patted her when she was upset with the nurses. I kissed her a million times. I wished so hard that I could have taken her place, I’d take those ulcers a million times over just to have spared her. I felt such tender, overwhelming love when I watched her sleep. I would check that she’s comfortable through-out the night. I sang to her – Twinkle Twinkle Little Star had the best soothing effect on her.
A life-saving item we had with us, was the portable DVD player. Being restricted by the drip caused lots of frustration for her – a few times when we went for little walks in the corridor, she hated having the drip attached to her. Watching Lollos and Barney DVD’s were a brilliant distraction. My life-saving items were my BlackBerry and my Kindle! I’m busy re-reading the Harry Potter series, and finished the 3rd book while in hospital. So at least I got to escape to a world of wizards and magic every now and then!
I received so many phone calls and messages from friends and family enquiring about Mia – it was amazing to know how many people were thinking of her and praying for her. So blessed.
We enjoyed a blissful weekend of being at home! Mia has slept well each night so far, and each day she improves more and more. Last night (Sunday night) she ate her first proper supper in 10 days, she had pasta, a vienna and Melrose cheese, and a blueberry and banana fruit puree. The sores on her tongue are all gone, her gums are still a bit red and inflamed but much better than they had been. So relieved!