Chicken Feet


We had a rocky weekend. Our eldest daughter woke up on Friday night with an incredibly high fever! I gave her some fever medicine and, since it is much cooler outside, we had a walk around the garden in the night air. We looked at the stars and got a fright each time a spot light sensed us and suddenly switched on! We got back inside and her fever was no different. I cringed… It was time for ‘The Cold Bath’, which is akin to punishment really!

She moaned quite a bit but being the good little girl that she is, she suffered through it all the same. Out she came and the fever started to drop. I got her re-dressed and popped her back into bed.

The next morning the raging fever was back! Just as mean and as high as before. I gave her more fever medicine and more again at lunch time. The fever came down, but not all the way, so when it spiked again it was really high.

We were going to my Mum’s for a visit. As we arrived my Mum was shocked at how hot she was. We gave her a different fever medicine and popped her into bed to rest in front of the telly. A little later, I checked her again and again, she was boiling hot.

‘Mommy, I am so cold’, she said to me. ‘My back and hands and feet are hurting.’ Her temperature is 40 °C (104°F). So I try a third kind of fever medication. I go back to the table and everyone asked how she was. I told them her fever was up again. ‘I think we should take her to the hospital’, my Mum said, worried. ‘That’s it’, my sister said and she got up with her bag and car keys, ‘let’s go!’ So my Mum, sister and I got her into the car and off we went.

There is a private hospital about 10 minutes down the road. (I specify that it is private because there is a gargantuan difference between a private and a public hospital in South Africa. One you live, one you die kind of difference!)

Well we screech in, guns a blazing and the place is like a cemetery. We zoot off into casualty and… there is no one at the desk. We wait and we wait… Finally out of a back door a receptionist and a paramedic burst out and look really, seriously busy. Finally they finish and the receptionist turns to me and asks why I am there. I explain to her that we cannot break my daughter’s fever and she tells me to sit and wait.

By now my eldest is delirious and teetering on hysteria! She is convinced they are going to hurt her. Finally after sitting around and trying to calm her for half an hour, a male nurse comes to get us and takes us into a small medical room. He checks her temperature – 39.8 °C. ‘That’s really very high’, he says. (No shit, really? Like we would be there if it wasn’t an emergency!)

He needs to check her blood sugar levels – I cringe! She is going to go berserk! After much coaxing, she gives him her finger. As he pricks it she lets out a scream that sounds like he has cut off her arm. Blood sugar is fine.

Now we are told to wait, again. I am called off to load her details into the system and then we are taken to a larger medical room with a bed and hospital equipment. We have been there about an hour so far.

Then things started to go south. My Mum and sister, who have been moaning about the shocking service, lack of urgency and empathy displayed by the hospital staff, are now bored. There are 2 packets of surgical gloves. Open and inviting.

They dig into them! Suddenly there are chicken like heads being blown up all over! My daughter finally stops worrying and starts laughing. The girls are getting silly now and let the ‘chicken heads’ go once they are blown up and they zoom all around the hospital room.

I am dying of embarrassment inside. I am sitting on the edge of the bed and keep telling them to be quiet. They have the giggles and they can be heard throughout casualty. Then my Mum decides she is going to put these surgical gloves… on her feet, since she tried on her head but it wouldn’t fit. (Please see picture below.)

That is it! I am done for! I start giggling like I am 12 years old again and I cannot breathe! Then my Mum decides to take a stroll in her new surgical socks and I am crying with laughter.

Thank goodness the doctor finally rolls in. (The silliness had subsided by this stage.) We had been waiting for 2 hours. There had been an emergency in the hospital. The doctor examines her and informs us that she has an upper respiratory infection and writes a script for antibiotics. He advises how we need to proceed and she is discharged.

All this laughing and horsing around has not only cheered up my daughter but her temperature has also dropped.

She sleeps through the night and wakes up with a fever. I follow the doctor’s orders and the fever drops and disappears. By late morning she is feeling much better and returns to her lovely sweet self again.

I keep turning back to that evening. It was worrying and scary. But then I think of those surgical gloves on my Mum’s feet and a very broad smile appears on my face…! That’s what Mum’s are for, right?

Chicken Feet

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