It’s been a little quiet in this space lately because our family has been hit by the flu bug, which seems to have taken over our island in a big way lately.
After two weeks of runny noses and throaty coughs (myself, K and to a lesser extent, B) from the turn of the year, I finally succumbed to a 38.7 degree fever on a Monday. I went to the doctor late in the afternoon, thinking I’d get some medication for my low-grade fever, but she proclaimed that this was high-grade fever, and promptly prescribed a course of anti-biotics. I was quite amazed at how I managed to function all through the day, and put it down to the general high levels of weariness one gets accustomed to as a mum.
I called home to ask if the kids were alright – no one had fever, but the very next day, K came back from school running a fever. It shot up to 39.4 degrees in the late evening by the time she saw the paed. He soberly diagnosed that she had mucus in her lungs, and prescribed so much medication, that the final bill exceeded $200. We were to come for a review of her lungs two days later. The hubs took the next day off, and I took 1.5 days off (I had left my anti-biotics in the office so had to retrieve it) to care for her.
Thankfully, at her review, the doctor said her lungs had cleared up significantly. When I asked whether it was a case of bronchitis, he said it had sounded more like pneumonia, though that could only be confirmed by an X-ray.
We had taken the rule-of-thumb to self-medicate in the absence of fever, thinking that it was ordinary flu. Previously, we had incurred significant fees from either of the two paeds we frequent, even though her lungs were clear. And had been prescribed medication that we could get off the shelf from the pharmacy. But I suppose there is merit in seeing the doctor, just in case the lungs had gotten infected.
The doc kindly waived all charges at the review, which was a first for us, after giving directions on how to wind down the medication dosage.
My in-laws had kindly offered to have B over with my helper for 3 days and 2 nights, separating the sisters as far as possible. B adapted amazingly well, and kudos to Aunty Susan who took care of her in the night, and gave her bottled milk when she woke asking for some. My sis-in-law said she was enjoying herself too much to miss us! It was like being on holiday with Peppa Pig shows on tap!
It was quiet in the house without B, but it occured to me that this could be my chance to wean her off nursing completely. Apart from having to hand-express regularly for 3 days to ease the discomfort I experienced, I am happy to record that I’ve finally weaned her after 23 months (and 2 days) of breastfeeding! Initially there was a sore lump which I was quite concerned about, but after a while, it eased and I was able to gradually wind down the number of “pumps” to zero a day!
She did not protest when I told her that there was no more “Mama’s milk”, and settled back to sleep instead. For the first night home, we made one bottle of milk for her around 4am. But subsequently, she did not insist when we told her there was no warm milk and to get back to sleep.
Although she persists in sleeping with her head on my tummy for some part of the night, she is waking far less, and getting back to sleep far more easily. Praise the Lord for small mercies! I had envisioned a much more traumatic process of weaning, consisting of screams far into the night with much rocking and pacing.
After two days when K was fever-free, B came back. There was a fantastic reunion, most of all between the sisters as they hugged and kissed. We all missed B, but she was pretty cool about being back, and more enthusiastic about “cooking” at her toy kitchen than anything.
However, two nights later, her temperature suddenly hit 39.3 and our hopes that B had been spared were dashed. So it was the usual routine – discussions of who would take child medical leave the next day, how to get to the doctor early, and what to do the day after… …
The hubs had many meetings the next day, so I took time off from work again. I felt bad being absent 2 out of 3 consecutive working days, but am thankful that my bosses and colleagues were really supportive. My supervisor has two kids too, and even told me I could leave before noon if I needed when I applied for the half day. My boss sms-ed me to say he’d “pray for K to get well soon”. Really couldn’t ask for more. When I asked my sup if it were ok for me to take leave AGAIN, this time cos B was ill, my sup said ok readily and empathised about being home with two sick kids. Really very humane, though he would have to cover my work again. I can imagine how awful it is for folks who have to contend with nasty sarcastic bosses whilst worrying for their sick kids.
With grace all round, it was with further relief that the paed pronounced B’s lungs clear, and that she probably got a viral infection (very high temperatures for first 2 days then peters down), as opposed to her sister’s bacterial one (persistently high temperatures). Nonetheless, we were prescribed an expensive bottle of antibiotics as “standby” to be broken into should her temperature exceed 38.5 by day 3.
Guess we are thankful that B remains spritely when she’s not sleeping (get plenty of rest, the doc said) and in good spirits overall. K’s been a bit more challenging these days, behaviour and attitude-wise.
I wonder whether this has got something to do with being out of school for 3 days, or with getting quite a lot of attention as the only child in the house, and then adjusting to having B back in the house, and then with B getting ill and needing more attention. Or it could be just part of growing up? Or a delayed reaction to starting school again (apparently a few days ago there were a surprising number of crying kids in the morning, even a K2 one!)? Time will tell I guess. In the meantime, we pray for wisdom in meting out a balance of firmness and grace to her.
What a long post this has turned out to be. Well, we hope to put this bout of illness behind us soon, and have a much better rest-of-the-year-ahead. Stay healthy, everyone!