Saturday, February 11, 2012

Hot to the touch

It was early.  He sat in his cot like a crumpled old man, his big blue eyes staring up at me as tears streamed down his face.  He was crying, not a loud scream, but a pained whimpering.  I reached for him and immediately felt the heat of his little burning body radiating through his babygro onto my hands.  I had read that you’ll know the difference between a warm baby and a hot baby from touch alone and it’s absolutely true, you do.  Leo’s head, chest, back, arms, knees, hands and the palms of his feet were cooking and as he lay in my arms I felt a fear rising up.  I was alone, my baby was sick and the likelihood it could be malaria was high.

I rang a friend who reassured me that it would be ok and that I could carry out the malaria test on my own, but she was happy to drive over and help if I wanted her to.  In the back of my mind I’ve known there would come a time when I’d have to do this.  I placed the phone down, gathered the malaria testing kit from the 1st aid basket and prepared myself for having to hurt Leo in order to find out if he had malaria or not. 

I stripped off his clothes and sat with him on the floor as he writhed and rolled his head.  I removed the sharp pin from the packaging, swabbed his hand and pricked the tip of his ring finger.  There didn’t seem enough blood so I tried again, harder, and this time a small plume of red rose to the surface.  He moaned pitifully and tried to slide his sweating fingers from mine.  My heart clenched.  I held his bleeding finger over the larger of the two holes on the plastic control panel and squeezed.  It was messy, but I managed and then dropped the buffer solution into the second hole.  The next 15 minutes of waiting was agonising….

Eventually one single line appeared on the control panel window indicating a negative result.  I lay slumped on the floor with my burning baby.  I had the drugs ready in case it was malaria and I knew what to do had the result been positive, but thank god it wasn’t.  The relief was acute but I was still frightened knowing that his little body was housing a massive fire and that I was responsible for putting it out.  The fever spiked and dropped rapidly over the next 24 hours.  When he wasn’t asleep I nursed him and when the time was right I slid neurofen into his bird like mouth.  I did another malaria test at 4am by the light of a head torch because there wasn’t any power - this one was also negative.  Our bed became his haven and I made it as cool and as comfortable underneath that mosquito net as best I could.

The following afternoon I took him to the doctor who checked his wheezing body and confirmed he had a virus.  There was nothing to do but ride it out.  He had been suffering with a head cold for 3 weeks previously and this seemed to be the final chapter in what was my first experience of him being horribly poorly since he was born.  Worryingly the next day his back and chest were speckled with a light pink rash and having contacted the doctor, this time by phone, she said his symptoms suggested a viral rash which was really nothing to be concerned about.  To finish she asked if he had an appetite and I was about to say no and put him in the car and drive straight over when he leaned across me, grabbed a samosa from my plate and placed it firmly in his mouth.  The tide had turned, he was on the mend. 

It is now 2 weeks since Leo was sick and he has bounced back like the atom bomb, all noisy and full of strength.  I had been scared and frightened of what I would do should he became ill in the topics (especially with malaria being such a monster) but instincts kick in and you find yourself drawing on your inner resolve and turning a potentially dreadful situation completely around.  Typically Chris returned 6 days later to a very happy and very healthy baby boy and I think secretly wondered what all the fuss was about….. :) 

2 comments:

Amelia said...

Oh my god my heart stopped. I'm so glad he's ok. G got sick once with just a fever and lethargy, no other symptoms, but my goodness those were enough! When I checked her in the middle of the night and she is that hot, it stresses me out.

FrankandMary said...

Typically Chris returned 6 days later to a very happy and very healthy baby boy and I think secretly wondered what all the fuss was about….. :)

Oh. I. Hate. That.
But you take it well...