As parents, we do the math whenever a kid (or two) gets sick. For us, these are our most common formulas:
2am + fever + vomiting + screaming “get the bug out of my ear!!!!!” = Oliver has an ear infection
Coughing ’till he vomits + asthmatic wheezing + runny nose = Callum has a cold or a virus, or allergy (e.g. cigarette smoke)
You can usually figure it out, right? Even if they can’t speak much, the symptoms point the way eventually. The fever doesn’t tell you a lot because it could mean ANYTHING. It’s the symptoms that follow that determine the answer.
So last week, Oliver presented with:
Wednesday (feverish + lethargic + vomiting) = Hmm. Must be a stomach virus. He lay on the couch most of the day.
But then I also remember:
Wednesday + Thursday (“my mouth hurts!” + back at daycare and doing fine + but crying out for us in the night A LOT) = Hmm. Weird virus, eh?
Then I was thrown another formula via Callum:
Thursday (low grade fever + kinda not acting like himself) = Was asked to pick him up early from daycare…so maybe he’s getting it too?
Then Friday came and both boys acted totally normal and went to daycare. And I assumed the threat of the “you must come and get your children from school/daycare, and too bad your boss is pissed off at you” phone call was over. We had a good weekend. Oliver had a GREAT weekend. He had his friends-from-daycare-and-school birthday party at an indoor playground.
The only thing that was sort of off? You probably can’t see it properly, but Callum suddenly got a rash all over his face on Sunday.
It kind of looked like chicken pox. But they’ve been vaccinated, so I didn’t think that was it. I chalked it up to dry skin/eczema – which they get, which has flared up since we got back from the UK. And, you know, THEY WERE FINE. And happy. And running. And jumping. And singing.
Monday morning at work, while they were at daycare and school, I decided to Google rash identification photos. One page mentioned scarlet fever, but the photos did not look like Callum at all, and it’s not even meant to turn up on your face. But it mentioned that it was the same bug as strep throat. And then I remembered that Mark has had a sore throat for 2 weeks. And that Oliver said his mouth hurt.
I take a trip to Wikipedia. I suddenly have a new formula:
Oliver (sore mouth + fever + vomiting + chills + malaise + peeling skin on his hands and mouth)
Callum (swollen tonsils, oh yeah, those have been around a while + low grade fever + rash on his face that a blog post tells me is ‘scarletina‘)
= OH CRAP. THEY HAVE STREP THROAT.
A trip to the walk-in clinic last night confirmed the diagnosis – positive tests all around! Which, you know, was vaguely satisfying. That I could Google it and figure it out.
But you know what? Math would be a lot easier if one of these children would have said to me: “Mummy, my throat really hurts”. I feel like I already did enough algebra in high school. It’s sometimes so hard to put the formula together. And I’ve probably managed to infect half of our town by not figuring this out earlier, and sending them to daycare and school. Argh.
Today it’s doses of penicillin & antibacterial cream for everyone, after leftover Cars birthday cake, and at least it will be done soon.