Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Don't Panic but We're in A&E ...'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Don't Panic but We're in A&E ...'

Article excerpt

Byline: Rosie Mortimer

GOING on holiday and leaving a child at home for the first time is a traumatic experience for any mother. Every worst-case scenario goes through your mind, but when you are in another country and receive a phone call saying your 15-month-old son has been rushed into hospital you cannot help but realise that your instinct was right; that you should never be parted from him again.

I had gone to Mallorca for a short break with some girlfriends while my husband, George, took our son, Johnny, to visit some friends in Macclesfield. It was the final day of my holiday and after supper I sat waiting for George's call. When it finally came he said very calmly: "Don't panic but we're in the hospital."

Johnny had had a febrile convulsion.

This happens when a young child -- aged from six months to five years -- has a fever that rises very quickly and causes a fit. It is common for the child's arms and legs to go stiff, for them to foam at the mouth and for their eyes to roll.

This is obviously a terrifying experience for a parent as the child is unconscious for a few minutes. George later told me he thought Johnny was dying. Luckily our friends immediately called an ambulance.

The Macclesfield Children's Hospital gave Johnny every test and kept him in overnight to monitor him. Even though I knew Johnny was in the best place, I was beside myself with worry. I spent the entire night reading up about febrile convulsions on the internet.

As many as one in 20 children is affected by febrile convulsions and it is not usually a sign of a serious problem -- although in rare cases it can lead to epilepsy. This should have been reassuring but at that moment nothing could have put my mind at rest.

I got the next plane to Newcastle and was finally reunited with George and Johnny. We stayed with George's parents and that evening Johnny's temperature rose dramatically again. When it reached 41[degrees]C we rang the hospital and asked what we should do. I was made to feel like a neurotic mother and told his temperature would not go much higher than it was.

Twenty minutes later it was 42 [degrees]C. We rushed him to the nearest A&E. It was Friday night and the waiting room was full but we were seen by a doctor immediately.

We then were told that you certainly should worry if your child's temperature becomes this high. Later that evening they discovered that Johnny had a urinary infection and he was given antibiotics.

From that moment on, whenever I have noticed Johnny has the slightest temperature, I have felt uneasy. I now know I have to do everything in my power to stop it rising too quickly, which means a large dose of Calpol and ibuprofen, removing his clothes and, if possible, placing him near a fan or an open window.

It is a common misconception that children should be wrapped up in blankets and sweat out their fevers. …

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