"He has the worst over him!"

About: Ards Hospital / General Medicine Strangford The Ulster Hospital / Paediatrics

(as a carer),

He has the Worst over him!

My two year old son first became ill with a bad case of the flu the week of the 7th Dec 2008. His symptoms included bad head cold runny nose, sneezing, coughing, restless sleep and a fluctuating temp from 36.9 reaching 39.8 on a number of occasions. I made an appointment to see a doctor at my local practice and was unable to see the family GP and was to be seen by another doctor who was relatively new to the practice. He checked my son over and said that kids are quick to recover from bouts of sickness and that "he had the worst of it over him" and that it was a viral infection and they don't prescribe any thing for this, but gave me some Paracetamol suspension and Ibuprofen suspension. I left the surgery very unsettled as I knew this was something more than just the cold/flu.

Christmas came and went, my son was still ill. This bout had taken an awful lot out of him - he wasn't interested in Santa and his presents - he didn't open his presents till 3 days after Christmas, as he had no energy or interest.

I contacted the out of hours doctor on the 28 Dec 2008, as he was still unwell and his temperature kept soaring reaching 40.3 at one stage. He asked to see him and I traveled the 20 miles to the doctor to be told again it was a virus and to continue giving him the Paracetamol and ibuprofen, I also came away with a linctus for his throat with all the coughing his throat was raw. With regards to the temperature, I was told to continue giving the medicine as this would eventually bring down his temp. Again I contacted my GP and was told that there was nothing more that I could do that I should just "ride the storm".

On the 8 Jan my son's temp reached an all time high of 41.2, again I contacted the out of hours doc and saw him and was told there was nothing more just to continue what I was doing and again wait for the infection to run it's course still no antibiotic! I explained that this was my first child and this was all new to me, as he had never been ill in his two and years till now - I was told this wouldn't be the last time he would catch all sorts of germs and that if there was no improvement within 10 days to contact them. By this stage, I had been continually dosing my son on a daily basis with the Paracetamol and Ibuprofen to keep his temp at bay although it was still high (39) in my eyes, as I continually monitored him!

On the 18 Jan, I again contacted my out of hours practice as his temp reached an astonishing 42.3 and I was out of my mind with worry and panicking. as I new that there was a possible risk of him convulsing. The doctor I spoke to on that occasion showed no concern with regards to his temp and told me to place him in a tepid bath and to give him fluids - this was a further problem as he had all but stopped eating and drinking and I couldn't get fluids into him.

I made an emergency appointment with my GP first thing on the Monday (19 Jan) morning she was very concerned with him, as he was very lethargic showing no interest in anything and whining continuously still with head cold runny nose and high temp. At last we were given amoxicillin and she told me to bring him back first thing on Wednesday morning, as she wanted to keep an eye on him - she rang me on Tuesday just to see how things were going and to remind me that I was to call in the next morning.

I took my son in on wed, my GP wasn't happy as far as she was concerned there was no improvement and rang straight through to the paed’s rapid response unit at the Ulster hospital, where they were on standby waiting for us. It was a bit of a whirlwind were my son had lines coming out of him saline drips attached and various monitors.

My son was then diagnosed with tonsillitis and pneumonia, as he was not drinking the infection was being carried around in his blood as his kidneys weren't functioning as well as they should. The blood test that they carried out showed that the infection marker should have been around 15 -20 was reading an almighty 57. My husband and I were beside ourselves with worry and were unable to do anything but be at his side. To top it all, I had a call from someone from social services enquiring into why it took us so long to seek medical advice! I told them to check their facts and told them that this was through no fault of mine, as I felt that I had exasperated all means necessary to make my child well and that I felt the health services in my area did nothing to help me at such a worrying time only to advise me to continue giving the calpol suspension which I have now nicknamed the wonder drug!

On reflecting this whole ordeal, of which we are now on the other side, I have lost all confidence in my local GP service. I pray that in the future that this service moulds into something more than giving out the "wonder drug". Hopefully there will be a better paed's service, as I feel that the GPs are not sufficiently trained in this area of family medicine giving the wonder drug does not suffice treatment in my eyes!

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