OPINION: The new cold war: Trying to explain the kids haven't got Covid!
- Credit: Ruth Davies
This weekend I spent much time looking after poorly children in various medical establishments.
It’s inevitable they’ll get every bug going after the recent past of no socialising to build up immunities, coupled with winter, they’re hitting the germs hard.
Raffie was the first of our dominoes to fall a couple of weeks ago.
A terrible headache, temperature and poorly tummy meant he was down for three days, swiftly followed by his brother and then Florence who needed time off school to recover.
She had every symptom of the dreaded Covid yet despite half her year falling prey she managed to somehow avoid it, and with negative LFT after PCR she was all clear to return a few days later.
We’d only just got over that when again Raffie gained a hacking cough. Of course, it was test central in our house and as my husband pinned him down so that I could swab, it felt like we were committing child abuse just so that we could feasibly allow him to carry on as normal.
Not poorly enough to remove himself from society in any other year but it’s a very different world now. We had to know he was clear for nursery before he went back.
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Should we send them to school with a cough at any rate I wondered?
Then I realised if that was the case I may as well factor having them home from now until March because when don’t they have a runny nose, cough or cold symptom during this season?
They’ve already missed so much education I couldn’t possibly wrap them that tightly in cotton wool and, with difficulty, we’ve tested daily since - all with negative results thank goodness.
Then this weekend, amid her brother’s coughing, Posie gained a temperature of 39.9. I gave Calpol but the magic potion I’ve always relied upon to bring those temperatures down didn’t work.
She’d had a sore bottom for a week after what I’d assumed was teething and the blisters had got so bad I feared perhaps it was infected and the cause of her raging fever. Off to A&E we tripped and suddenly I felt very fearful indeed.
The doctors at the hospital couldn’t manage her temperature either and though it dipped a little at times, it kept rising again and she was admitted to the Children’s Assessment Unit within an hour of us being there.
I was impressed how swiftly they’d seen her to begin with, they may be short staffed (this is pretty evident) but they took no chances with my precious baby.
I was relieved but also alarmed. I like to be the parent kept waiting, figuring always if you’re in that position they’re not worried about you and all is well.
I’d far rather be the person sat for hours with the more serious cases taking precedence but there we were, being top priority, with my initial concern that it might be something bacterial being considered by the consultant.
Thankfully her bloods came back with no markers in that direction, news more welcome than anything I’ve ever heard before. They were still concerned about managing her temperature so we stayed overnight with hourly observation, then by morning I was beyond grateful to finally be the parent waiting after her fever had subsided and she was looking bright.
They were busy with the people who really needed them. I was so glad that was no longer us.
We were cared for, fed and watered, then finally we came home. I’d not slept of course. None of the visit had invited rest, so as I slid into bed with my now much better babe, I looked forward to a night of just a smidge of sleep at the very least.
It wasn’t meant to be. By midnight both the boys felt unwell with new coughs and Raffie was screaming in pain with his ear.
More home tests and we offed to the walk-in centre for an assessment Sunday morning. By which time he was looking right as rain but I needed it checked out. Ear infections are always worse at night and if it was that, I thought best get it seen to immediately.
Seen and swabbed less than 45 minutes of being there (bravo NHS) and we were sent home with precautionary antibiotics to save for 48 hours if no improvement and a diagnosis of a common cold which had affected the ears.
Back to running around being his usual self and it was off to a party where I was assured most of the other guests also had colds and he was welcome.
Any other year it wouldn’t have crossed my mind to keep a happy child with a bit of a cough home but in this climate it feels very worrying. I feel the need, as I’m sure we all do, to explain: “He’s not got Covid, don’t worry, he’s had a proper test as has the baby,” and I had the same lines delivered back to me about other children.
Speaking to other parents I found we are living so differently now, all so fearful of others thinking we might be spreading the virus and all just fighting the other germs which are coming all at once.
So tricky. Do we wrap them up again and not let them out? So they don’t pick up any of the other bugs – chicken pox is doing the rounds and likewise a million other colds - keep them home when they do have a sniffle in case people think they might have it? Or do we carry on as normally as we can?
I don’t know the answer but I’m trying to be pragmatic. To behave with caution, as I would any year.
It’s all mighty frightening though and hospital stays are really not fun so I definitely don’t want any more of those.
We’ve merely dipped a toe in winter and I’m already willing summer to come again. How about you?
Ruth Davies has a parenting blog at www.rocknrollerbaby.co.uk