So, about a week ago, our youngest son (Nathaniel, 22 months old) started to get ill. Nothing too obvious, at the start, but one thing any parent knows is when one of their children isn’t themself – in this case it was that he was very clingy and would burst into tears if he was left alone. Nathaniel is a very independant little man so this was out of character. Within a few hours he had a temperature and the glands in his throat were noticibly swollen.
First thing the next day he threw up, and the temperature was still hard to control, so we took him to our GP who confirmed that he had some form of virus – crimson throat on top of everything else. About twelve hours later his temperature got worse (39.1) and a hive-like rash started to develop on his arms and legs so after phoning ahead we took him down to the emergency doctor where we were informed that he had scarlet fever.
Scarlet fever, I hear you cry? In this day and age?
Yes, scarlet fever. In the time between noticing the rash and getting to the doctor it had covered his body and his throat had changed from crimson to a white, pus-like, infection – basically tonsillitis. We were given antibiotics and more medicine (paracetamol and nurofen for both pain relief and temperature control, and antihistimines for the itchy rash). The very lovely doctor explained all about scarlet fever (I know some things about medical related stuff but hadn’t looked into scarlet fever as I thought that it was an ‘old’ illness) and told us what to expect – such as if the temperature reached 39 or above again to double dose the medicine and if it got over 40 to go straight to A&E or phone an ambulance.
3am ish we woke up to find Nathaniel with a temperature of 40.5 but, as he was actually awake and alert we used the medicine and tepid shower approach and managed to get him back down to a ‘nice’ temperature of 38.9. It wasn’t that we weren’t taking it seriously but knew that, by the time we got him to the hospital, or an ambulance arrived, we would have been doing those things anyway so decided to risk ten minutes on it.
Now, fast forward to today – as I said, nearly a week later – and we were back at the doctor again. This time because Nathaniel’s symptoms had changed … temperature fully under control and the little red rash nearly gone but, in their place, large, swollen, angry looking blisters on his hands, arms and feet. He has now got a secondary virus called (aptly enough) ‘hand, foot and mouth disease’. Thankfully it should be a relatively mild virus, nowhere near as nasty as scarlet fever (unless the ulcers go to his mouth then he will be in some discomfort, poor thing) so that is a ‘good thing’, isn’t it?
Well, yes, it is … however yesterday Mackenzie (3 years 20 months old) complained of a headache. Yesterday Mackenzie got a temperature. Last night Mackenzie developed a rash on the roof of his mouth, white spots on his throat and – if you already guessed this give yourself a gold star! – today he was diagnosed with scarlet fever.
Oy vey, as I would contemplate saying were I that way religiously inclined.
I realise that there may be some of you, reading this, who are wondering just what the title has to do with anything that I have written? Well, that is simple. At the moment – for nearly a week – I haven’t been writing much of anything as I’ve been busy with trying to ensure a sick child is comfortable and safe. Really, what I know, right now, is scarlet fever in children – especially your own children – is a scary and tiring thing. Next week, or the week after – when they are both recovered and healthy again (and Carole and I have managed to sleep more than a couple of hours at a time) I may feel like writing about other things that I know.
But not right now.