Another Hospital Stay

I was sitting in the front seat of the SCDF ambulance, and my husband was with Gar at the back. My tears were flowing nonstop and I wondered whether Gar was in serious trouble. As the driver kept pressing the buttons in front for the different sets of siren and sped through the expressway, I felt that this was even more serious than the other ambulance ride I took with my student who had complained of chest pains. (It turned out to be fake but that’s another story).

Gar was unconscious and extremely lethargic after having a febrile seizure minutes ago. We were already preparing to go to the hospital, but I decided that we should finish our dinner first, as it could be a long waiting time there. Just when I was brushing my teeth, I suddenly heard my husband shouting Gar’s name loudly. I rushed out and realised that Gar was having a fit. His eyes were lolling and he was having a convulsion.

I wanted to check my phone for what to do during a febrile seizure, but I could not find it. It was in the car. I searched for the iPad and found some information. It said to put the patient on the side. Do not shake the child. To my horror that my mother-in-law was going to put a metal spoon in his mouth. I quickly told her not to do that. My husband was afraid that Gar would bite his tongue, so he put his finger in, which he should not.

The seizure continued and we still did not know what to do. I took my husband’s phone and dialled 995. I told them that I have a two-year-old who was having a febrile fit and asked them what to do. The person immediately asked for my address. They said the ambulance would be on their way.

El did not really know what was happening and he was shouting in the room. I do not think he was affected by it. We quickly took the birth certificate and went downstairs. The person called me back and told me to put Gar straight up and prevent his tongue from falling backwards to prevent choking. I was anxious, and I told them we were downstairs already. They called again to confirm the location. Damn, almost everybody would miss our place because our block number was not obvious. I had already given additional instructions on the name of our place.

When they reached, the paramedics rushed down and asked who would be carrying the boy. They were checking his vital stats and said his temperature was 39 degrees Celsius.

Just a few days ago, we had brought Gar to a clinic on Wednesday evening. The doctor said he had a sore throat and a cough, so she prescribed liquid Ventolin. On Thursday, his cough worsened and he seemed to be having breathing difficulties. We decided to go to the A&E at KK Hospital. The doctor, who happened to be the same one who stitched El’s forehead, was our attending doctor. She said Gar had acute bronchitis and ordered him to have Ventolin puffs. Gar screamed and kicked me in the chest when we gave him the puffs using the spacer. It took 4 adults to hold him down.

The next few days, he refused to take the liquid medicine, and we had to mix with milk. Forcing down his throat did not work because he would just spit them out. He was a little more accustomed to the spacer. He also requested for a nasal spray for his runny nose, but refused oral medicine.


On Saturday morning, I noticed he was breathing extremely hard. I was very worried and took him back to the hospital. There were very few people there. The doctor said his lungs sounded clear and there was no wheezing. She ordered an x-ray for him just to see whether she had missed anything. She told us to continue with the Ventolin puffs. She said that he might have croup, which he had last year, and would probably need to go back to the hospital on Monday or Tuesday when it worsened. He would be given steroids to expand his airways, but that would not require hospitalisation.

We told her that he refused to take medication. She said there was nothing serious about his fever, especially if he appeared to be happy and jumping about, as paracetamol and brufen were mainly used to help relieve pain, and did not really bring the fever down. However, if he appeared lethargic and different, then we would have to be careful. The only way to give him medication was to use a syringe to shoot the medication into his cheek area, so that it was harder to spit it out.

After that, we went off. It happened to be some community day at the hospital, so there were acrobats on stilts.
There were some games too.
may the force be with you

acrobats on stilts

kindness bear

On Sunday, his temperature went up and down. We mixed the medication with milk, but he would not be fooled. He refused to drink the milk. In the afternoon, since I had neglected El for the past few days, and I needed to return the library books, I took him to the library. He took his time to read the books.

My husband then called and said that Gar had patches on his body and wanted to take him to the hospital. He had spidery veins surfacing all over his body. Since dinner was ready, I decided that we should eat first instead of going. My husband blamed me for delaying the trip, but in a way, I was glad that the seizure did not happen in the car. I felt terrible though.

So when we reached the hospital, the doctors and nurses were on standby and they gave him a suppository in his anus to bring his temperature down. They asked us about his history, such as when he had started walking, and whether he could speak one word or two. I told him Gar could speak in sentences now. He then asked me to go to Gar and ask Gar to identify me. Gar did not say anything.

They passed me a webpage printout on febrile seizures. This usually happens when there is a sudden spike in temperature. Basically, we should not interfere when children between six months to six years were having seizures. We should put them on the right side to let the saliva flow out and prevent them from chocking. We should not put anything into their mouth. Metal spoons may break their teeth. During a seizure, their muscles were contracting and teeth may drop out, which would be dangerous. It is not a worry that they would bite their tongues. They would be lethargic after that, and would require some rest. We should also time the length of the seizure.

It is highly likely that there might be a second seizure within 24 hours, so we need to manage the temperature. For most children, there would be no brain damage, and it would not lead to epilepsy.

We then went to the observation ward and they monitored his vital stats. When he was aroused from his sleepy state, we asked him who we were. He was able to recognise us then. He was finally admitted to the ward.

He did not require any more puffs. They would only monitor his temperature and give him medication to stop his runny nose. They would not give him cough mixture as they did not want to sedate him.

The nurse that was attending to us was extremely patient and clear in explaining what to do and what not to do during a febrile fit, and she was very gentle. As Gar preferred to have his father at night, my husband stayed until the wee hours before he headed back to rest. There was only one foldable bed. I went back to pack some clothes to stay the night.

At 7am, he woke up and played with his toys. One of his favourite dinosaur is cryolophosaurus.

It was hazy then, but the PSI cleared after in the late morning.
hazy and clear city view

Later on, my mother and helper came. Both did not sleep well as they were quite shocked. The doctors only came after 12pm. I guess there were many cases requiring admission over the weekend and there was a backlog. When he came, the consultant asked the MO to hear the breathing. I overheard him questioning whether he had heard correctly.

I went back to rest in the afternoon. They found him some toy cars to sit in to push him around and he was delighted.
mini car

At night, four adults had to pin Gar down in order to get him to take zyrtec. He had no problem with the paracetamol suppositories. He was on the mend and started talking loudly. We had to tell him to be quiet.

As my husband had to go back to work, he left. I was alone with Gar. During Gar’s previous hospital stay, I was the one who stayed with him all the nights as I was still nursing him. This time, he woke up at 2.15am, and as usual wanted his father. He cried loudly, and kept asking to go out. He wanted his father. I walked outside with him, and then back in. He continued crying, and I called my husband for SOS. He was prepared to come down.

A nurse finally came in and switched on a nearby light. Gar was taken aback when she asked him to sleep. He then finally wanted some milk, and finally decided to sleep in my arms. I then told my husband that he did not need to come down. He finally allowed me to put him back on the bed at 2.50am. I was totally exhausted by then.

Thinking the consultant and doctors would be late, I decided to go back to shower in the morning first before coming back, but my mother called when I was on my way back that Gar could be discharged. She had forgotten to ask for suppositories and the nurse said I had to wait for an hour. This boy was already itching to go back, and my mother had already delayed him by getting him a tub of dinosaur toys.

We finally left. Thank goodness he did not have to go on IV drip as we managed to get his water intake up. The previous night had seen two to three dry diapers with his milk refusal.

I went to three places before I found the suppositories. The nurse told me to get 150 mg or something, but there was only 125 (for babies) and 250 for children. However, the stores only had 125, so I got that. They had given him 2 pieces. Sigh, if only he did not refuse to take medicine this time round.

Mr Bump – El Gets Stitches

It was another visit to the emergency room of KKH. I was flat out on the sofa at 9pm, when my husband called me saying El had fallen down near the swimming pool area on the way to the carpark. He was bleeding profusely and needed to go to the hospital for stitches. I quickly changed and grabbed my bag. When I went down, I saw my husband’s shirt near the arm pit area drenched with blood, and a subdued El, pressing his forehead with a hanky and a tissue and lying in his father’s arms.

Apparently, he was trying to play hide and seek with his father and grandmother. He had run to the reading room at the club house, and when he saw them coming, he ran towards the gym, and somehow tripped and crashed into a pillar. At first, they thought he had scratches on his face, but then they realised that blood was spewing from the top right corner of his forehead. He was howling in pain.

They quickly brought him to the 24-h clinic just opposite our place, but the doctor said he did not have anaesthesia for the required stitches. The gauze he tried to put on his forehead dropped off as the tape was on the hair, which by then was wet with sweat.

When I received the call, I went down, and saw the poor boy. I did not know whether he had a concussion, so I asked him lots of questions about dinosaurs.

“What type of tyrannosaur was Rodney?” I asked him about one of Dinosaur Train’s episodes.

He replied in a feeble voice, saying it was the raptorex, with some feathers, probably wondering why I did not know those simple facts.

I mentioned that I had a tiny lizard running around my wardrobe, and then he started spouting multi-syllabic animals which I had not heard of, until he told me they were tiny reptiles that lived during the dinosaur age. I really do need to know the difference between pterosaur and dinosaur.

Next, I tried to prep him on what would take place at the hospital, so that he would remain calm. First the nurse would check on him. Then the doctor would examine him, and then stitch him up.

The bleeding had more or less stopped, and I saw the big open wound. Thank goodness it was very near the hairline, so it could probably be covered by hair.

When we reached the hospital, we waited for at least twenty minutes before the nurses tended to us. A boy’s family demanded that he be attended to before his turn was up, as he had an open wound too. The nurse said the bleeding would have stopped by now, but they were pretty insistent. The rotund boy was about 10 years old or older, and they carried him in their arms. When the nurse opened up the gauze, I saw a 5cm long vertical wound in the middle of his forehead, just like Erlang Diety, the one with a third magical eye. She then wrapped his head. I overheard the nurse saying all the doctors were trained. They were probably trying to get the best doctor or something.

We sat there, staring at them, thinking our son also had an open wound, but we decided to continue waiting as there were just a few more before our number. A man with a child in his arm saw El, and asked whether we wanted an ice pack, as he had some in his car. He probably thought El had a bump. I politely declined.

I had been coughing for a month, and around me, many other adults were coughing too. It was the same type of phlegmy cough.

When it was El’s turn, the nurse asked a few questions. She took his blood pressure and monitored his oxygen level. Then, she cleaned his wound and put gauze on his forehead. He was not allowed to eat or drink anything. She passed me a pamphlet about head injuries. Point number 7 mentioned wearing appropriate shoes. He was wearing crocs. These shoes should be banned.

I went to register him. My handphone battery was totally flat, just like my energy level, and my husband’s handphone’s battery was down to 14%. I hoped we did not have to wait too long and needed to wait for a phone call.

We waited a while in the waiting room. I never liked waiting there, because there were many people who were sick. The last time we were here, we headed straight to Room 11 because of breathing issues.

Soon, it was our turn. The doctor asked him what had happened. She did not measure his weight, so I just said he was 14 kg plus. She said he looked all right. She whispered about stitches to me, but I had already told him about it. She told him that they would put something cold, like ice cream on his forehead.

We waited at the treatment area, and there were many people there. A girl, about the same age as El, had a cut on the back of her head. It would be covered by her hair. I think they just put some glue or gel on her head, but she was not supposed to wash her hair for three days. Sometimes doctors would speak to children in a different manner, and this doctor put on a cartoon voice to speak to the girl in Mandarin. I was a little bemused. We had met a few female doctors and dentist who would do that, and he would be unsure how to respond to them.

Later on, they finally applied the anaesthesia on his head. He cried when they put that on him. Then, they wrapped his head up, like Mr Bump from the Mr Men. We had to wait 30 minutes outside Room 15, but it might take longer because the other boy required stitches too.

Mr Bump

El was game enough to pose for a picture, but it was super unclear. He could not open his eyes fully.

We waited outside near the driveway. I tried to talk to El about the stitches. He had watched World Cup. I asked him whether he remembered the Germany vs Argentina finals. Of course he did. I asked him whether he remembered a German player (Schweinsteiger) who had stitches on his face because he was bleeding? He was very brave to go back to play. That meant it was not so painful after all.

Immediately, El started frowning and became visibly upset because he hated Germany, my favourite team. He was supporting Argentina. He said he did not want stitches anymore. Alamak, I tried to divert his attention. He wanted to scratch his wound, but I told him he could not. He should pretend to scratch the area instead.

Then, he was very bothered by a bump on his palm. He wanted to peel the thing. I suddenly saw red bumps on his palms! Shucks! There was a warning about HFMD case in his kindergarten class. Apparently his doctor he had seen on Saturday spotted an ulcer on his tongue, but said he was not HFMD.

After half an hour was up, we went into the waiting room. It was not our turn yet. After some time, they called that boy in. Someone carried him into the room. Then after that, his parents, grandmother and another lady came out. They waited anxiously there. I said most likely we would not be able to stay with him. That was when I noticed that one of them did not wear shoes. I was not sure whether she was a helper or an aunt.

I watched a video about HFMD. It was worrying. El watched some cockroach cartoon.

A little boy stood near my husband and started crying. He kept digging his mouth and could not tell us where his parents were. I spotted a nurse and told him about this lost boy. He would come back in a moment once he put down his things.

A man who was seated near us struck up a conversation with us. He said his son had an open wound when he was only 10 months old. One parent remained with him when they were stitching. The boy had memories of the place, so whenever he came back, he would say he did not want to go to that room. The man was alone with two children. The boy had fever. His wife was still working.

While talking, I forgot about the boy, and the boy was gone. I guessed the nurse must have returned for him. Later, I saw him bring him to a room.

Finally, it was our turn. The other boy had his stitches, and his mother came to get a wheelchair for him.

We took El in. He followed instructions, and we lifted him onto the surgery table. Immediately they strapped him in, and asked us to wait outside. I guess it was better so that we would not get too worried. I asked whether they would do cosmetic stitches, but the doctor said even if it were a plastic surgeon, there would still be a scar. In addition, the wound could be covered by his hair.

It was a tough wait outside. I kept hearing cries, but my husband said they came from the treatment area. The room was pretty sound proof. Finally, El came out. The doctor said he was very brave. He did not cry at all. Phew!

photo (12)

Then, I asked the doctor to check his hands for HFMD. She checked and said it was. Oh no. She took us back to her room, and checked his mouth. There was nothing in his mouth. However she extended his MC. He could have gone back to school if he did not have HFMD.

We then went to the pharmacy. The family with the boy and girl were there, and they looked happy to see us. But we told the father we had to keep our distance because of El. It was pretty fast before we got our medicine.

El was famished, so we went up to the minimart upstairs to buy some food. He wanted a pizza roll, so we bought two and heated them up. He finished one in the car. He started complaining about pain in his wound. The anaesthesia was wearing off. By the time we reached home, it was 1 am. I quickly gave him paracetemol. He managed to sleep almost right away.

What a night.

Dirty Medela Pump Membrane

Do you know that you have to clean the membrane of your Medela breast pump? I never knew this until I had finished breastfeeding my children. I had my Medela Pump in style for more than 4 years. I had used it for El, and I used the same one for Gar. I did not know that the cover could be popped open, and that we need to clean the membrane.

I had just read this online, that Medela used the open system, which means that dust, dirt and milk could get into the membrane, and we are supposed to clean it often. I had never cleaned it until today.

medela pump in style

medela pump in style

Immediately, I ran to my room and checked it. To my horror, when I opened it, the back cover was dusty. Even the cover itself was dirty outside. The membrane was a shocking black mess. I could not clean it with a tissue, and the wet tissue was useless. That was probably mould.

Mouldy Breast Pump Membrane

Mouldy Breast Pump Membrane

I had only known that the Medela breast pumps were supposed to be single-user, but I did not know they were actually more for single use. I had only replaced the valve. I did not replace the tubing even though it had yellowed, as the shop I went to was out of stock. We were not supposed to wash the tubings.

I feel quite sick that I had been using this for such a long time.

None of my friends who had recommended me Medela told me I had to clean it. I guess I did not read that in the instruction manual. Thank goodness Gar did not have any major issues. He has been quite healthy so far, except for the episode where he was hospitalised for croup. I am really shocked. Actually, I hope there is no relation between the two, because I was probably stretching the pumps by then.

I am writing this to warn more mothers who are breastfeeding.

Other brands that are closed systems include Ameda, but I thought it was not strong enough.

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