You could say we’ve had quite the week. I’m writing this sat in hospital watching Max sleep peacefully in his cot. I wanted to share this experience as we knew there was something wrong with Max and we didn’t stop until we had answers. It’s so hard deciphering what’s wrong with a baby, given that they can’t tell you. But when you’ve got that “gut feeling”, you’ve got to act upon it. Nobody knows your baby better than you. There’s also the fact that a fever in a baby can be down to a number of different things and there’s the scary thought of Sepsis should they have an infection.
Today is Monday. It’s been exactly a week since our five month old little boy became really quite poorly.
Last Monday, it had been nice and warm and we had been for a walk with my parents. It was the first day of lockdown being eased slightly in Wales, so it had been lovely spending some time with family again (social distancing of course). That afternoon, Max became very hot to the touch on his head, chest and back. We checked his temperature but it was a healthy 36.4, so we put his symptoms down to teething.
The next day, he was still extremely hot but this time, his temperature began to rise to 38.6, where we then gave him Calpol. Being wary of the current pandemic, I called our GP surgery who scheduled a phone consultation that afternoon. After speaking to our doctor, he asked that I bring Max down to the surgery and to wait in the car until he came out. The doctor came out and checked Max over. There was no cause for concern - temp had come back down, he was responsive and his breathing and heart rate was normal. The doctor diagnosed him with “suspected Covid” and expressed that we were to self-isolate at home. He made clear that if we were at all concerned about Max, we were to call 999 right away. We decided to book in a test for the next morning for each of us at our local drive thru coronavirus test centre.
A Call To 999
That evening, it was difficult to settle Max. He hadn’t been feeding properly, only taking an ounce or two instead of his usual five ounce bottles. He managed to settle for an hour or two before I heard Greg calling my name at 1am. Max had vomited in the living room and his temperature had shot up to 39.2. He began to shake and twitch - which was due to his high temperature - so Greg got straight onto the phone to 999 who very quickly sent us out a first responder.
The first responder arrived and did tests and checks on Max for just over an hour, before agreeing he wasn’t an emergency and that we could take him to an out-of-hours doctor appointment at the hospital to check him over. Greg took him to the appointment, where again, the doctor was happy that everything was ok. We still didn’t really have any answers, apart from the fact we knew that Max was clearly not right. You know when people say use your gut feeling? It was definitely one of those times.
Things Began To Get Serious
Another day went by and Max’s temperature was up and down, he was still hot to touch and the vomiting was becoming more regular. By this point, he was hardly drinking any of his bottles. Friday morning me and Greg agreed that he needed to see the GP again. I rang for another phone consultation. An hour or two after doing so, we noticed Max deteriorating. I got straight back onto the phone and the receptionist said the doctor would ring me as soon as he could. Within half an hour the doctor had rung back and asked me to bring Max to the Covid room at the surgery.
I was met at the doctors with a face mask, and doctors and nurses equipped with PPE. Max was now extremely hot with a temperature of 41.2, laboured breathing and he was extremely lethargic, barely opening his eyes when we called his name. The doctor became very concerned and got straight on the phone to the hospital and ambulance explaining the suspected Covid symptoms. Max was a Category A and Code Red patient and required emergency help. The ambulance turned up and got us to hospital quickly.
We were met at Resus in the Children’s Assessment Unit of our local hospital by masked doctors, nurses and specialists ready to help our son. Max was in respiratory distress and could not be soothed, not even by his Mummy. After over an hour of him crying and being in distress (and me suffering with an awful migraine due to the stress), the doctors managed to get an IV line into his little hand and took some blood to be tested. By now Max was exhausted. He drifted off for an hour or two. A urine sample came back as positive for a UTI, which explained many, if not all, of his symptoms but the doctors still hadn’t ruled out coronavirus.
Covid Test Results
Once Max had settled we were moved up to the children’s covid ward, where we were given a room to ourselves. I wasn’t allowed to leave unless to visit the toilet. Anyone that comes into hospital at the moment with a fever is treated as a Covid patient until results prove otherwise.
Every six hours Max was given antibiotics through his IV line. The hours seemed to come and go and Max was clearly getting better. That evening we had the fantastic news that Max was Covid free!
Reflux Rears It’s Ugly Head
Whilst it seemed the infection was being flushed out of his body, his reflux (which he’s suffered with since birth) seemed to be getting worse. For quite a few months Max had been on Gaviscon Infant, but I really don’t think this helped him. The Saturday night of our hospital visit, the reflux got so bad he wasn’t drinking his milk properly (again!) and was screaming in discomfort for over 30 minutes. Enough was enough. I couldn’t see him suffering like this. I pressed the nurse button by the side of the bed and the nurse appeared at the door clearly concerned for little Max too. She got straight onto the phone to the doctor who was happy to prescribe him Lansoprazole - an antacid medicine. Finally, something that might actually help him!
Today is the third daily dose of Lansoprazole and it’s definitely making a difference. It seems this hospital trip was beneficial not just for the infection.
Last night we were transferred up to the Children’s (Covid-free) Ward. We went from our big, airy room with a cot and bed, to a small room with a reclining chair and cot. It’s safe to say I had a rather rubbish night sleep. To be fair, the nurse did tell me that this isn’t their usual ward and set-up. Due to the amount of cubicles they have on their usual ward, they had to move in order for Covid patients to use it.
The doctor has just done his rounds and (pending approval from his team) is happy for us to go home. Max will need to keep his IV line in so that the community nurse can give him is antibiotics for the next few days, until it is safe for him to have it orally.
The doctor expressed how high the infection levels were in his blood and he has made quite the recovery. I think translated, it means he could have developed Sepsis, possibly(?). The blood tests may need to be done again before we leave this afternoon to double check everything is ok, but it seems we’ve got a little fighter!
We will also need to attend an ultrasound appointment to check Max‘s tubes and bladder are how they should be, but that won’t be for a few weeks as there’s no emergency.
Max is 1000x better than he’s been for a good while, whether that’s due to the infection, the reflux or a mixture of the both. I can’t thank the NHS enough for making our ittle boy better!
The rules for visiting are quite strict at the moment in hospitals. For children admitted to hospital, only one parent can stay with them. This experience has been difficult with my husband not being able to visit, but he’s been just as supportive via text and phone call as he would be if he was here (minus the cuddles). It wasn’t easy for him either, particularly in the beginning, knowing how much of an emergency the situation was and not knowing what was going on in that moment, until I updated him.
Our Wonderful NHS
The NHS have never let us down. We’ve had our fair share of emergencies and visits, and they’ve been nothing but brilliant. This hospital trip has made my admiration for NHS workers even bigger given the way they deal with situations like this at a clearly stressful and emotional time. Covid and providing a clean and protected service is clearly of the utmost importance (obviously saving lives is most important, but this is part of that). As if their jobs aren’t hard enough!
I want to thank everyone who helped us during our stay at The Royal Gwent Hospital. You saved my son from an infection that could have been and got a lot worse.
For more info on Coronavirus: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
For more info on infant UTIs: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/urinary-tract-infections-utis/