Tuesday, 14 July 2009

A pig of a disease

I am a hypochondriac, every ache is cancer, every pain ebola and the internet has only worsened this debilitating condition. As soon as a symptom, however innocent, materialises in me or one of my boys I am instantly online diagnosing some rare, life threatening condition, so you can imagine how the latest swine flu scare is playing out chez moi.

My son's primary school has already had two confirmed cases, though they refused to tell us in which year group they were. Cue me quizzing my boy every afternoon to see if any of his class were off sick. I have had to resist the temptation to place a cordon sanitaire around the house, hosing down the big boys with disinfectant when the return from school and nursery to prevent all those nasty, piggy germs oinking their way to my vulnerable babies.

Last Friday we had our own brush with piggy flu panic when twin two spiked a temperature of 38.5 C and was grisly and cross all day. Although my natural instinct was to grab him in my arms and run screaming into the local A&E, I restrained myself and simply called NHS Direct for more advice on whether my hot baby was actually suffering from swine flu. Fat lot of good that did me, I was just told to call my GP, which I could have done in the first place, thereby bypassing this uneccessary (and undoubtedly ruinously expensive) 'help' line.

So I called the doctor and the doctor said (two and half hours later) that she didn't know whether it was swine flu, although it sounded as if it might be, and that if he didn't cool down pronto I should call the out-of-hours doctor service as she was about to go off duty. She also added that while I should give him Calpol to bring the temperature down, I also shouldn't give it to him as it would mask the symptoms - helpful.

So I shoved some of the pink elixir down his throat - much to his vocal disgust - and hoped for the best. I was all for dashing off to the hospital just in case, but my husband was the voice of reason and reminded me of our last brush with medical emergency when Jonah suffered a high temperature at just seven weeks. It was a nightmare of blood tests, sleepless nights and fear, that all added up to an unspecified virus that went away on its own.

For once I listened to his sage advice and sat tight, though I did insist that twin two sleep with us, which, as they now sleep in their own room was a real treat. Listening to him gently snuffling in his sleep and lifting his warm drowsy body into our bed for a sleepy cuddle at first light was a nostalgic indulgence.

Fortunately by the morning his temperature was gone and so was his bad temper, and he was once again my smiling, blue eyed boy. My husband was right and my panic was over, but listening to the tragic news about the six-year-old girl who died of swine flu within 48-hours of falling ill fills me with an ice cold sick fear fuelled by those horrific 'what if' scenarios that any parent can't help but play through their heads at such a time.

Next time I think my husband will have to tie me up with my cordon sanitaire to stop me from whipping my boys off to the doctor to demand Tamiflu at the first sign of a flushed cheek.


  1. I'm glad his temperature has gone. It is so scary when you have poorly little ones. I always ring NHS Direct and it's always a waste of time. I then go to my GP who always says it's just a virus, go home and give him Calpol!

  2. It's always so hard to judge. I used to live 3 doors down from a friend, who was a GP, so I had my own personal medical adviser on hand. It was great.