We took him to the doctor on Saturday, who said it was a chest infection and started him on some antibiotics. He also advised us to get blood and urine tests to rule out malaria and a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia. The results came in yesterday - negative for malaria, positive for pneumonia. Pneumonia. Scary Word Number One. I know pneumonia is fairly common and, in many cases, mild and easily treated but in my mind, I always associate it with its scarier symptoms and outcomes. Anyway, the doctor said it was the early onset of pneumonia and the antibiotics we had already started would be able to make things right. And then Dottie sent me this link to walking pneumonia and that pretty much describes what has been happening with Ayaan, and this too makes it sounds less scary.
We asked the doctor about the recurring fever and he said that if it continued to be high, we would have to hospitalise him. Hospitalise. Scary Word Number Two. There's something about the very thought of children in hospital that gives me a sinking feeling in my stomach. The idea of their small bodies in those immense hospital beds and their sunny little personalities in the cold, clinical environs of the hospital doesn't even bear thinking about.
To avoid all these depressing eventualities, I have been monitoring his temperature almost hourly and sponging him down every time it starts getting high, along with the prescribed dose of paracetamol. It usually responds to paracetamol but 6-8 hours later, it starts crossing 102 again. We need to wait and watch today as the antibiotics take 48 hours to take effect but if the fever does not start to break by this evening, we go back to the doctor. Fingers crossed.
Thank God for grandmothers. My mother, on hearing that her precious grandson was sick, dropped everything and took the first flight to Mumbai. It wasn't really necessary but I heaved a sigh of relief when she got here yesterday. I could really do with some downtime, not having got much sleep between the fever watch and the night feedings. The mother-in-law, who happens to be a doctor, too was a great support with medical advice, especially when we saw 104 on the thermometer at 4 a.m and needed some reassurance and tips on how go get the fever down.
Of all the challenges that motherhood has thrown my way, sick kids is the the one I feel most ill-equipped to deal with. To start with, it just breaks my heart to see my bouncy little boy lying listlessly in bed and looking at me with dull eyes. To add to that, there is a feeling of utter helplessness that I can't make it better instantly - because hey, I am the Mama and I should be able to fix this, right? And then at some points, there is a flash of irritation, deeply regretted but undeniable. It happens when the sick brat won't let me leave his sight for even a minute or when he has been coughing non-stop right into my ear and I really have to bite my tongue to keep from saying (to him and the universe), "Enough already!"
The standard advice you get when your kid is sick is to make sure they get enough rest. The problem is that there is no way to get kids to understand this. Their approach to illness is exceedingly short term. When the fever is high, they will lie down listlessly and maybe even sleep, but let the mercury drop even a little and they are ready to take on the world. Telling them that this will make their fever shoot up again is of little use. Ayaan, for example, was threatened and bribed yesterday with everything possible to stay in bed but he managed to pack in a fair amount of activity in the confines of the bed, repurposing some hangers lying nearby into rockets, shouting '3...2...1... LIFT OFF!', leaping through the air with them, landing with a thud and then repeating the process repeatedly...
Sickness makes clingy kids even clingier. Ayaan is happy enough to hang out with Jai and/or my mom when his fever is down. But the minute it starts coming back, no one but Mama will do. Even an attempt by Patti to sponge him simultanoleously or by Dadda to, God forbid, talk to him can set off a major meltdown. It can get a bit stressful because these phases often coincide with when I am needed by Tarana. This feeling of being torn is one of the not-so-nice things of having two kids. The other day, I had put her in her cot fast asleep and gone to tend to a feverish Ayaan. Then just 20 minutes later, she started bawling. I had to make a choice (Jai was travelling) and I decided Ayaan needed me more so I decided to finish putting him to bed before tending to her. It was ten minutes before I was done and she had cried herself back to sleep by then. :(
The boy got smacked. Yes, he's sick. But I was sleep deprived, my patience was wafer thin and he had it coming. At this particular point in time, he didn't have fever and had asked to watch cartoons. The show he wanted to watch had been recorded but it happened to be a re-run he had seen only recently. So he got upset and sought to express his rage by picking up his (full) glass of water and flinging it across the room. Thankfully, it was a steel tumbler but it still drenched everything lying on the bedside table. Like I said, he had it coming and I felt less guilty about this smack then I have felt about smacking him when he has been hale and hearty...
Update - 27th April: The fever still keeps coming back every 6-8 hours, though it is reducing in intensity and touches between 101 and 102 degrees. The doctor ordered another x-ray, which we took across to him this afternoon. He says the situation has not worsened but has not improved much either. He has added another antibiotic to the already heavy cocktail of medicines (2 antibiotics, paracetamol, expectorant, decongestant, vitamin syrup...) and we need to go and see him everyday till he takes a turn for the better. It's either that or hospitalisation and I prefer the former. The man in question is currently between fever bouts and is bouncing around like a bunny on speed!
Update - 28th April: There's been a marked improvement today. The doctor was pretty positive and the H-word (hospital, in case you are wondering) wasn't mentioned. He said that the phlegm was loosening up so there would be a lot of coughing but that's a good thing. He even said we could go ahead with our plans to travel to Bangalore this weekend. We need to see him again on Friday and then repeat the x-ray a week later to be a 100% sure that everything is back to the way it should be.