This week saw us having our first real illness in our family. We’re a hardy bunch who get the odd cough and cold but nothing that major and nothing that couple of early nights and, maybe, a paracetomel or 2 can’t fix. It’s something I didn’t realise I took for granted until this Tuesday when I had Tobias struggling to breath and the panic was setting in…
I’m not normally panicked when it comes to emergency situations. I don’t know where this comes from as I am a total picnicker by nature. I think it may have been from being a teacher where things happen, children hurt themselves, they say things that raise your eyebrows but I wasn’t fazed. I am calm and clear headed and can make good decisions it’s only afterwards when I realise the seriousness of the situation that I fall apart.
We had spent the day at a farm park with Hen and Tobes running around with friends, feeding the animals and riding on the tractors. We’d play doughed, gone for a walk and I’d managed a bit of a chat over a coffee with my lovely friend and I’d left the park to go straight to school to pick up Ollie. I’d timed it all perfectly and I was feeling a bit smug. Tea passed as normal but Tobes did seemed a bit sniffly but everyone was tired and I read the usual stories before bed. Tobes was then awake and unsettled and this continued through the night but he did finally get into his deep sleep and rested. When I woke him in the morning his breathing was raspy and there was a rattle and I was a bit concerned. After the school run I took him home and throughout the day he became lethargic and his breathing became worse. I phoned NHS direct and spoke to a lovely lady who said he did need to see a Dr that day. (I would have phoned our Drs directly but it’s very stressful to get an appointment and you can be made to feel that you’re wasting their time…) We saw the Dr later that day and by this time Tobes was having trouble speaking properly as he was so out of breath and now I was really worrying.
He was diagnosed with ‘wheezy bronchitis’ and I was handed a prescription so now we have an inhaler and some bright yellow antibiotics which he seems to want to take. We showed Tobes how Teddy couldn’t breathe and when he had the inhaler over his nose and we puffed the inhaler he became better –we moved teddy to show him breathing! Tobes wanted a go and said ‘my turn now Mummy’ so this was a relief. He was a little unsettled during the night but we managed 1 more dose of antibiotics and more puffs of the inhaler –with teddy helping again.
To see him this morning you wouldn’t think it was the same child. His breathing, although not perfect, was so much better. The rasp was there but only faintly and his energy levels seem to have rocketed from yesterday as he chased around after his brothers making up for the lost previous day. I was relieved and so was Hubbie who has to be away for the next 2 nights.
Seeing Tobes struggling to breathe with his tummy going in and out rapidly made me think of the films of children from struggling countries all around the world on comic relief nights and it made me realise how amazingly lucky I am. I don’t have to sit and wait for my child to get ever worse and face the potential consequences of not getting the drugs you need for, sometimes, very treatable illnesses. I was seen by a Dr on the day my son was ill. It was a clean surgery and there weren’t hundreds of people sat in the waiting room who had travelled hundreds of miles to be there. I was given a prescription which meant that the drugs he needed were available to him within 20 mins and in his body within 30.
Watching the bright yellow liquid of the antibiotics fill the syringe (he won’t take a spoon) I know, just by an accident of birth, how lucky my son and I are. We didn’t travel to far, wait to long or pay any more money for his treatment and now, as a consequence, he is on the mend not having developed a nastier illness or suffered complications as a result. He’s annoying his brother as I type and for once I am grateful of that. We all moan about the NHS and I’m sure rightly at times but I do think we need to take a step back and see the bigger picture. There are many countries that have no such system so only the well-off can afford proper care. Some countries are war torn and don’t have adequate facilities, qualified staff and on-going supplies of drugs to prevent, treat and help maintain life through long illnesses. Children die of treatable diseases, women die in childbirth and life is desperate for those left behind to cope with the consequences. I know how lucky I am that the NHS treated my son when he needed it and will do again should he become ill in the future.
No system is perfect despite what the politicians may claim they can do. There has always been and will always be need beyond capacity and I know I’ve not faced the situation where the postcode lottery has prevented the proper treatment and, maybe, my view would be totally different had I, but at least we have a system that treats us and we don’t have to delay seeing the doctor whilst we ask everyone we know to contribute to the payment needed. The sticky yellow liquid in the syringe will be available to my sons’ and I know that’s a wonderful thing.