I hastily refastened the poppers on my daughter's sleepsuit and scooped her up off the bed before sinking into a chair in front of the Doctor. He was looking at me with a solemn expression, a mixture of apology and uncertainty in his eyes as he said those words that every parent dreads to hear, "I think she needs to go in". I didn't need to ask where. She had a rocketing temperature, a racing pulse and couldn't keep antibiotics or antipyretics down. We both knew she Needed a little help.
The next 7 hours at the hospital, before the doctors finally let my daughter fall into an uneasy slumber around 2am, were a haze of obs, rehydration fluids, tests and examinations. She was being treated for a suspected kidney infection, dehydration and fever.
I confess that there was a really low point in there around 1am. I'd been standing at my daughter's bedside for more than 2.5hrs trying to catch a urine sample. Every 10 minutes I had to feed her an electrolyte solution. She would nearly doze off in between doses before she was jolted awake again. It was day 5 of her illness and both of us were exhausted. I asked the doctors to use a catheter to get a sample and they refused, saying it was too invasive. It left me in tears. Surely after that amount of time, the ends justified the means? She clearly needed to start treatment and, right then, she desperately needed to be able to sleep. I found myself flashing back to the day after my son was born when he was readmitted for low blood sugar. The doctors had instructed a nurse to put a tube into his stomach to force feed him when he refused milk only 1hr after taking 3ozs. I remembered how helpless I had felt then, how I was so angry with myself because my instincts had screamed that this was all wrong and yet I had blindly trusted. It was that memory that made me request the catheter and that memory that brought tears when they refused. After 3 yrs I was here again and still failing to be the advocate my child needed. I did the only thing I could do. I brushed the hair from my daughter's tired eyes and promised that we'd make her better soon.
Nearly a day later things were looking up. My daughter's temperature was under control and, despite some vomiting, she'd kept down most of her medication so they discharged her with instructions to call if the fever didn't subside. I'm hopeful that we're nearing the end of this bump in the road. She's more perky today, despite looking exhausted.
I wanted to write this because, probably more than any other challenge in our role as parents, being our child's voice is hard. Really hard. It's impossible to know whether you're making the right choices, fighting the right battles, particularly when those battles question medical advice.