I made the mistake of saying to my mum the other day, “well, he started solids last week, put his mouth to his feet the week before, sat up the week before that, what’s next?” The very next morning in the middle of a particularly whiney outburst I stuck my finger in his mouth just to check and discovered a tooth had pushed its way through overnight. No wonder he’s been so out of sorts. How exciting! But we could really have done without another big change so soon. I’m not sure my nerves can stand too much more excitement… and I think this tale is very telling of this.
The thing with teething is it’s not really obvious. Baby will be out of sorts but not necessarily all the time. And there could be a hundred other causes for all the disruption. Hungry, hot, tired, ill… So two days after the tooth and we had just got back from a few hours in town. He’d been sick this morning and was obviously out of sorts. Then we sat down to feed that afternoon and things seemed to get worse and worse. He didn’t want any boob, felt really hot and had started screaming inconsolably. Now, my first thought is he’s teething. Just in case I gave him a bit of Calpol to cool him down and hoped that would help… but before I had a chance to wait out the all important 20 minutes for it to kick in, I stripped down to his nappy to cool down, and discovered a bright red rash on his tummy.
It’s testament to how well the health authorities have done to make parents aware, but my very first thought was meningitis. And it’s all I could think about after that. Of course I was probably wrong but the more I kept thinking, ‘just wait until Daddy gets home’ (he had just got on a train from London) the more I thought, ‘this is one of those things that just can’t wait’… I would have never forgiven myself if I had left this unchecked and he had deteriorated… Grabbing the nearest glass I rolled and rolled it over the rash. Trying to be clear as he wriggled and writhed. It’s still there. Still there! Even my British Red Cross App said I should be concerned.
And so in a rush of adrenalin I did it, I phoned 999. I described his symptoms… sickness, temperature, high-pitched cry, very out of sorts and a red rash. And to their credit, they were with us within 5 minutes of my call. To my shame, he had already started to perk up by the time the very nice ambulance men arrived. Patiently they checked him over but it quickly became clear it was merely a spot of heat rash along with teething.
Meningitis is a real concern for parents. Few don’t know of the glass test (roll a glass over the rash and if it doesn’t go away then you should call 999). However, I learnt that you really have to press quite hard on the glass to get a true result. And your child by this point will already be very obviously sick… I feel guilty for having wasted their time. But on paper the signs were there.