“It looks like he has bronchiolitis…”
Ugh. I have lost count of the number of times these words were said to me during months 6-14 of my son’s life. It was never a surprise and I loathed them every time. I have also lost count of the number of times my husband and I have discussed: “should we go to the doctors?”, “should we go to A&E again?”, “is he as bad as last time?”, “what should we do next?”, “should we keep him inside away from people?”, “has he had his inhaler?”, “should we ask about the steroid inhaler?”, “shall we put him in a warm shower” or people commenting “ooo he’s chesty today isn’t he?”, “you should take him to the doctors”…it was almost a weekly occurrence and it wore us both out because he could be so demanding, unhappy and his coughing keeps him awake. We tried all sorts of weird and wonderful things to help him heal – onions under the bed? midnight showers? essential oils galore? kinesiology? why not? nothing to lose.
The reason I’m mentioning this now is because the dreaded wheeze is back after a cold day last week, and I’ve got all fingers and toes crossed hoping it doesn’t turn into the whole schebang. I’ve also been thinking about how helpful and informative the NHS was. I know a lot of people have gripes about the NHS, but seriously, how amazing is the NHS? I can’t even believe that we get free (ish) health care. Imagine having to pay each time your child was ill, paying to actually have a baby and then having to pay for the medication too? Every time we saw another helpful doctor, I felt overwhelmed with gratitude. It’s incredible.
Bronchiolitis is inflammation of the bronchioles and usually occurs in children under the age of 2. It causes wheezing, coughing, a reduced appetite, tiredness and sometimes a fever. Children normally grow out of bronchiolitis before the age of two. It is a virus, so antibiotics are useless and therefore, you have to let it ‘run it’s course’ – which can be anywhere between two weeks and two months. In our son’s case, by the time he was nearly finished his current bout, he got another bout, beginning with all the symptoms of a common cold and sometimes an infection was thrown in there too to keep us on our toes. We used to always know where Winston is in the house because we could hear his wheeze. My Dad used to call him Darth Vader! It can be treated with a steroid inhaler but due to his age, we and the doctors are reluctant to put him on one as it’s well known that steroids stunt growth.
Generally he is happy, easy going, eats like a wart hog and plays nicely by himself – but I didn’t really feel I got to know him until he was over a year old and bronchiolitis-free. His personality was so confused with bronchiolitis that I found it hard to separate the two – what is Winston? who is he? and which part is illness? the two bonuses was that when I got a good glimpse of the ‘real him’ it made me feel elated and I suppose my patience has very slightly improved (questionable).