Medical vigilance from doctors appreciated

00:42, Jan 28 2013

We've had a couple of medical adventures with Zach so far.

Regular readers will remember he turned into a puke fountain the night of the first game of the Rugby World Cup, scuppering plans for a stayover.

That turned into nasty gastro bug that lasted more than a week. Then there was another stomach bug that lingered for almost two weeks just before Christmas that year.

He's been to the hospital, I think, just the once, for a pretty high temperature that we were more than worried about - just a viral thing, keep the fluids up and use liquid Nurofen to keep his temperature down was the standard reply.

Plus he's had the usual chest infections and colds and other illnesses that young nippers get, especially those in daycare.

But he got all of those after he was 7 months old, and he's bounced back reasonably quickly from them as well.


So it was a little surprising when we realised that his sister, just 8 weeks old, was a bit under the weather last weekend. Nothing specific, just a bit off. Most parents should understand how accurate that vague non-medical description is - nothing obviously wrong with them, but something not quite right.

Suz has been recovering from shingles and had been told to be extra vigilante in case Piper contracted chicken pox.

So when Piper's temperature got on the high side and she seemed more lethargic and less interested in a feed, she decided seeking medical help was a wise option. Mother's intuition, you see.

Being Sunday, Southland Hospital's Emergency Department was the best option.

After a few tests, and a dose of Pamol to bring her temperature down quickly, it was felt there was nothing too sinister happening for any undue concern. No problem with that. Once home she seemed to resume her usual level of cuteness.

Too often you hear criticism of the treatment at the hospital, but what happened next fills me with great confidence about the level of care.

The doctor phoned that evening to check on her and, when told her temperature seemed to be up again, asked that she be brought back in.

To cut a long story short, Piper was admitted, a barrage of tests was run and it was decided she probably had an infection.

Intravenous antibiotics were prescribed and the upshot is she spent two nights in, was a perfect angel, apart from when she glared at the poor doctor, and appears none the worse for her experience.

But what was most surprising was how Suz and I handled the experience. Although she had to hold her down for an X-ray and while she had the IV installed, on the whole we were pretty unfazed by the fact that she needed treatment.

This might sound a tad callous, but we weren't too bothered by the whole experience.

It's hard to know why - after all, our tiny 8-week-old monkey was in a foreign environment being prodded and poked - but perhaps our exposure to so many medical TV programmes has made the whole experience less intimidating.

Perhaps the years of travel mean we worry less about things beyond our control, or perhaps we knew she was in a safe place.

The care in the hospital - thanks to both the doctors and nurses (Megan, Holly and Lizzie) - couldn't be faulted. The staff genuinely cared for both Piper and Suz and maybe that's enough reassurance.

* Mark Hotton is a journalist who enjoyed his two days of man time with his son, but is still happy his two girls are back home.

The Southland Times