Back to School… or not.

Flea should have been back at school tomorrow.

This was a big moment for her because it’s her first year in junior school. Flea’s been excited for weeks to try out her new uniform – this year she has a skirt rather than a pinafore, and her PE kit has switched to singlet and tracksuit rather than shorts and t-shirt. There’s a new school bag with room for more books, and this term she’ll be starting hockey for the first time.

It’s all important stuff when you’re seven. Added to which, Flea hasn’t seen most of her friends for more than 2 months. There’s a lot to catch up on.

It was all going so well (if you don’t count the fact I forgot to label anything AT ALL this week) until just before dinner last night when Flea fell ill.

One moment she was illustrating dog training techniques with her ‘school’ of soft toys, the next moment she was curled in a chair, complaining of a headache and saying she didn’t want any dinner.

By midnight, her temperature was over 40 degrees, her headache was worse, and she was complaining of abdominal pain. She started vomiting at 1am. By 2am she was tucked up in my bed, exhausted, hot and tearful. You could have toasted bread on her skin, but she was shivering.

I’m sure better parents than me cope with this stuff wonderfully.

But all I can think when I’m on my own with a sick child at 2am is that I’m just not equipped for this, and I’m not sure how this small child got saddled with me as a parent.

I know enough medical types to know by heart that the early symptoms of meningitis are high temperature, headache and vomiting. They’re also symptoms of flu, of course, but that’s never what pops into your head in the wee small hours, is it? Why do we torture ourselves so with worst case scenarios?

My own Mum is one of those people who is AMAZING in a crisis. The bigger the disaster, the calmer she is – if you lose a handbag, she’ll be sympathetic and horrified. If you lose an arm, she’ll tell you to calm down, stop panicking, and pull yourself together.

Me? I crumble into a puddle at the merest suggestion that Flea might be in pain or afraid – I still can’t bear to think about the time we were on holiday and a wasp stung her in the throat.

Anyway, back to last night.

I know that photophobia (light aversion) and neck stiffness (from spinal inflammation) may not be present in children with meningitis, but the other symptoms to look out for include cold hands and feet and sore limbs. So obviously I sat up until 4am periodically feeling Flea’s hands and feet and annoying her by asking if her arms and legs hurt.

Eventually, we both fell asleep at 4am, then spent today, exhausted, curled up together on my bed watching Tom & Jerry and eating Marmite on Toast.

Today Flea has still got a raging temperature and has also developed a sore throat. Her face is swollen and she’s trying to talk without opening her mouth too wide –  a classic indicator for tonsillitis. I’ve told Flea there’s no way she’s going off to school tomorrow, that she needs to rest, and not share her bugs with the rest of the class.

So while the other blogs are sharing adorable pictures of kids in shiny shoes and stiff collars, here’s Flea – snuggled on my bed with a bowl, some water and a DVD player for company.

Fingers crossed the illness is short-lived.




Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

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    • 5th September 2012 / 11:19 am

      Thanks, seems a bit brighter today, thankfully!

  1. 5th September 2012 / 6:02 am

    Ugh. Poor thing. And I do know what you were going trough.
    I still remember when Little One was still a baby and while cutting her nails I cut a bit too deep and there was a bit of blood…lets just say my Man and my mother have been both magically summoned from their respective jobs (on the other side of town, of course) by SOMEONE *cough* hysterically sobbing into the phone ‘I cut her finger off!!!!’. Of course after the week has passed no one could tell which finger was it. It didn’t do magic for positive attitude and feeling of warmth in the household that day, let me tell you.
    Yemi recently posted..HOROSKOP DNEVAMy Profile

    • 5th September 2012 / 11:19 am

      Oh my goodness, that sounds like something I’d have done!

  2. 5th September 2012 / 6:35 am

    I’ve also done that meningitis watch in the middle of the night – pressing DD’s skin to see if it stays red (or is it supposed to go white)? I also put her in a cold(ish) bath once to try and bring her temperature down (it worked for a few hours). It’s so scary.
    I wish Flea better soon xxx.
    Midlife Singlemum recently posted..A Woman In Her FortiesMy Profile

    • 5th September 2012 / 11:20 am

      It’s a pinprick rash that stays red if you press it with a glass (most rashes disappear under pressure). But it’s quite a late symptom, the hands and feet are an earlier indicator (you can tell I’ve read up on this way too much, can’t you?)

    • 5th September 2012 / 11:20 am

      Thanks Emma.

  3. 5th September 2012 / 8:07 am

    My OH is a total panicker – he probably would have driven his work van right through the front doors of casualty, if that had happened to Big or Lil Sis!! Like, literally THROUGH the doors…
    Mummy’s Little Monkey recently posted..COOL DUDES (kids’ fashion)My Profile

  4. 5th September 2012 / 9:21 am

    Aww poor Flea! Hope she gets better soon! I would have panicked like you did, and the first thing i do normally is call NHS direct, and then regret doing so cos they will then ask me to send her to A&E ‘just in case’ . You are a great mum although you didn’t notice that yourself! x

    • 5th September 2012 / 11:21 am

      Thanks – I dread A&E, but I was considering it at one point!

  5. 5th September 2012 / 9:55 am

    Aw get well soon Flea, you can only do your best in this parenting lark, your best is more than good enough. The best entrances are always made late Flea! x
    Claire, Cheshire Mum recently posted..Parenting in a terrifying worldMy Profile

    • 5th September 2012 / 11:21 am

      Well, quite – she’ll be quite the drama queen when she *does* go back, I’m sure…

  6. Emma
    5th September 2012 / 11:17 am

    Oh poor Flea! She looks so incredibly grown up in that top picture. Hope she’s feeling much better soon! x

    • 5th September 2012 / 11:21 am

      Horribly grown up, I agree!

  7. 5th September 2012 / 3:32 pm

    Good on you for the meningitis watch. It’s better to be on the safe side. I was the opposite – believing it could never happen to my kids (why not exactly?) and didn’t spot the symptoms. (I did call NHS24 though and they did and we all got through it with a black eye – by the way we only had a temperature of 37.6 at the time). Tonsilitis isn’t nice though, hope Flea is feeling better soon!

  8. 5th September 2012 / 5:02 pm

    Poor Flea, what a shame to miss her first day back. Hope she feels better soon!

    PS, A bad mum isn’t the one who stays up all night monitoring her child! By definition a bad mum is the one who lets her child have a temp for 3 days without taking them to the doc and gets a severe lecture from the GP for letting things ‘go on so long’ – I thought it was viral in my defence! Turns out it was an ear infection, I am much more careful about temps now!
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  9. 5th September 2012 / 6:45 pm

    She looks a comfortable and contented invalid, at least, but poor you! I mentally bury my children if they complain of so much as an aching knee. It’s inevitable to assume the worst when it’s your own child.
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  10. Sarah A.
    6th September 2012 / 10:09 am

    Awww poor Flea, I hope she’s better today. I’m exactly the same when it comes to my children being sick; I instantly think of the worst case scenario, maybe because I’m a bit of a hypochondriac myself. My children however are not and, despite them being the ill ones, will tell me that I need to calm down and that they’ll be fine.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Sarah @ Goodheart Gifts.