Our A&E Experience

We had a little situation last week where we ended up in A&E with Billy. Of course it wasn't a pleasant experience, but thankfully it had a positive outcome. 

I wasn't going to mention it here, but then I remembered that I was actually googling things like a maniac when we were trying to decide what to do when Billy wasn't well. In the end, when A&E was recommended, I had no idea what to expect. It would have been nice to have some sort of an idea, so maybe this post might do that for someone else. 

So it was last Sunday night. We had spent the day in Peter's parents' house, had a lovely dinner, and Billy was in good form. Peter's mam did mention at one point that she thought that he felt quite hot. I took his temperature and it was 37.5 so definitely raised, but not overly concerning. I put it down to teething. He just cut his first tooth last week and has been having an awful time with teething pain. We came home and Billy went to bed as normal that night. 

At about 10pm Billy woke and I went up to his bedroom to settle him. Something seemed really strange though. He was lying in to cot starring at me blankly and not really moving very much. Now, for another baby this would be completely normal but Billy is not one of those babies that is happy to just chill out in his cot. When he wakes he is very vocal about it and wants out! So I picked him up, craddled him, and began walking around the room rocking and soothing him as we always do to help him to back to sleep. He started making this funny noise. I can't really explain it but it was like he was laughing and crying at the same time. It seemed really really strange. Then he started acting very disorientated and at this point I banged on the floor for Peter to come up to us. In the mean time I felt his head and he was absolutely burning hot. It was quite scary really. When Peter came in to the room he instantly knew something wasn't right by the way Billy looked and was acting. When he felt him he also got a fright because he really was piping hot, and it wasn't a warm night by any means. 

We took his temperature and it was scarily high. 39.7'C. Billy has had a high temperature before but never ever this high. When he had tonsilitis over Christmas it reached 39'C and that's when he was very sick, so this was really frightening. The official HSE stance is that a temperature over 38'C is considered high and is a fever. I remember my doctor telling me that 38'C was a fever but not to panic and to give Neurophen and that anything over 39'C is a cause for concern. You might understand now why 39.7'C scared the living daylights out of us. A lot of the time people say that it's more about how the child is behaving when their temperature is high. Your child could have a temperature several times a month and you might never notice because they are fine, in good spirits, and it's simply their system fighting off something. This was the opposite though. The motivation for checking his temperature in the first place was the way that he was behaving. He seemed completely "out of it" for want of a better term. 

We brought him downstairs and immediately gave him some Neurophen. He was sitting on my lap and he seemed extremely disorientated. We stripped him down completely and wiped his head, back and chest with a damp cloth. I thought he would cry because it was quite cold but he didn't even flinch. I remember Peter saying "I wish he would cry". His silence was defaning and he was listless. 

About 40 minutes passed and we checked him temperature again. This time it has actually risen and was 39.8'C. I was in total panic mode now. We ran D-Doc which is an out of hours GP service and they informed us that they were too busy to see him and that it was a very busy night. I explained the situation and the lady on the phone recommended that we bring him to A&E with such a high temperature that wasn't coming down after Neurophen. 

So A&E it was. But which one did we go to? We live in Dublin 16 so I assumed it would be Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin. I rang my mam and she said that Tallaght would be closer. I didn't even know there was a children's A&E in Tallaght. I called them first and the lady on the phone told me to head to adult A&E and follow the signs for the childrens one. 

Then it was a flurry to pack before we left the house. I didn't even know what we would need because I didn't know how long we would be in there. I brought spare clothes for Billy, both of our phone chargers, snacks and water for Billy, money for the parking machine, Billy's pram and blankets so he would sleep while we waited, nappies/wipes, and all of his teething gels and granuales etc. 

We left the house just before 11pm and arrived at the hospital in just a few minutes. It is literally one M50 exit from our house. Billy was very quiet in the car and seemed much the same. We were trying to remain calm but it was easier said than done. 

When we arrived at the children's A&E we could see how busy it was. I now understood what people meant when they said that A&E is not a good place for a baby in terms of the amount of infections floating around. We sat away from everyone else as much as possible. When we first arrived the secretary took our details, explained that the fee was €100 (or free if you have a medical card) and asked us to take a seat until the triage nurse called us. 

A couple of minutes passed and the triage nurse called us in. We explained everything to her and she checked his temperature. It had come down a bit but she wanted to give him some Calpol. She weighed him and said that based on his weight she was going to give him 7ml of Calpol. Our little chunk is 25 pounds. A far cry from the 7 pound 12 oz he was merely 11.5 months ago. 

Then the fun started. I'll call this part of the story... The Urine Sample. 

Anyone with a baby boy (or a baby of either gender for that fact) will know that there is generally a two second window during a nappy change whereby you must quickly swap the old nappy for a new clean one before you are... weed on. It's happened many many times. Probably once a week. It's happened when I was about to leave the house. It's just one of those things. So when the lovely nurse told me that I needed to get a "small urine sample" from Billy, I wasn't phased at all. Sure I'd just take his nappy off and wait a second. 

So off we went to our little cubicle, accompanied by our sulky little man who now had a (rather tight) little name tag around his ankle. We took his nappy off, held the little sample cup, and waited a few minutes. Then another few minutes. Then an hour. Then another hour. Then a bit longer. 

TWO AND A HALF HOURS waiting for a urine sample, from our little man who so often likes to sample all over us. 

I had given him extra breastfeeds to "encourage" things in that department, he was stripped down and the "air" was there to help things along too. But no. No can do says he. Sure didn't he even have a long nap in the midst of all of this? Picture this, him in a peaceful sleep lying in my arms while Daddy sat beside us holding the sample cup strategically waiting for the "moment" to happen. During this time Billy's temperature was taken again and had come down again slightly. 

Of course when the moment did happen it was a hyper flurry to "catch it". But we got there in the end. Sods Law. Or something. 

We have the urine sample to the nurses station and proceeded to wait for many more hours. We gave Billy some snacks. I brought these homemade banana and oat bites and they were a god-send. He had another little nap. Many walks around the ward. By this stage it was 5am and we had been in A&E since 11pm. I couldn't keep my eyes open and felt that sort of weird nausea that comes with being ridiculously over-tired. 

I decided to ask the nurse if she had any idea when we would be seen. Not in a pushy way, as I am all to aware of how hard they work and how understaffed they are. Unsurprisingly she informed me that there was only one doctor "at this time of night" and asked for Billy's name to check the system. Turns out he was next. 

Another 40 minutes passed and the lovely doctor came to our cubicle. A really lovely young doctor. He was fantastic with Billy (who of course smiled at him and looked the picture of health, sure don't they always make a liar out of you?). He asked us to explain everything from the beginning and confirmed that Billy would have been hallucinating and would have probably been quite close to having a fit. How scary. He explained to us about convulsions and that a sign to look for is the pupils dilating quite obviously. A handy thing to know for the future. He checked all of the "vitals" (as he put it, you know when something resonates with you? Maybe it was my tiredness but I'd swear I heard him say this line four times) and concludes that one of Billy's ears was quite red as was his throat. He put it down to an infection in both and prescribed an antibiotic. 

Then I asked about the urine, which I could actually see on the counter where I had been told to leave it four hours previously. He scurried off and reported back with the news that it was "still in the lab" (i.e now on it's way to the lab. Again, I don't blame them as they are so unbelievably busy and overworked). He said that we would have to wait forty minutes or so because they found protein in the urine and had to rule out a UTI. If it was a UTI they would have to keep him in due to the high temperature. 

This was almost the worst point to be honest. You know when you psyche yourself up for something? We had both suddenly been injected with some energy when the doctor came, knowing that hopefully we would be going home soon and thankful that everything seemed OK with our little man (temperature dropping, his seeming happier) and now forty minutes seemed like an eternity. Added to this was the possibility of him having to stay in hospital. 

Forty minutes turned in to an hour and a half and finally we were given the great news that that all was OK. The doctor advised us to continue to give Calpol and Neurophen as directed and begin the antibiotic tonight. 

At 6am we left the hospital as Billy was in a deep sleep in his pram. Paid our €10 Parking Fare and set off for home. It was a disorientating car journey. Blinds were up in houses, traffic beginning to build, and people were getting ready to go to work. We, on the other hand, hadn't slept a wink. 

We managed to transfer Billy from car-seat to cot without waking him and we collapsed in to bed. Peter emailed work explaining that he would be a couple of hours late. We slept for about four hours and then it was a normal day - Peter off to work and Billy looking for breakfast. 

The whole next day was a tough one, but not as tough as I thought considering the tiredness. Billy was still off-form so I was focused on making him well. He wasn't keen on eating so I made a massive pot of home-made tomato soup, packed with veg. He hoovered several bowls of it which I was delighted about. He was also taking the antibiotic without any problems. 

By day three Billy was like a new baby. He had totally bounced back. All was well with with the world. 

And then, I got a bug. 

C'est La Vie.