Monday, June 12, 2006


Teething peaks this month! Not sure if this is normal but Gab’s teeth comes in pair. Probably will be a very auspicious sign if his parents are superstitious, however we are not…hahahha! Anyway all me and Thomas are concern with is how this teething is affecting our boy.

The timetable summarized when I see the teeth cuts through and may not necessary means the actual day that it did since Gab doesn’t really like us pry his mouth that much.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Worst Time of the First Twelve Months

We had planned a roadtrip to Singapore to visit my mum and brothers on the last weekend of May. It coincided with my job resignation and the Great Singapore Sale, so we can also pick up stuff in the little Republic (mainly Gabriel's supplies). What interjected our plans turned out to be the most trying and difficult five days of Gabriel's first year.

On Tuesday, the babysitter realized that Gabriel was starting to feel hot. When we picked him up, he was burning quite a bit. His temperature from then onwards fluctuated between 37 to 39 degrees Celsius every few hours. He still looked alert, but we could see that he didn't feel comfortable.

The first medical consultation we visited was a child outpatient clinic. Doctor found inflammation in the throat and diagnosed his condition as either viral infection or teething. She gave us paracetamol and cough syrup.

BTW, lousy Singapore designed and manufactured infrared thermometer is off by -0.5 to -1.0 degrees. Lessons learned: frequently normalize your thermometer against others so that you know your thermometer's working range, do not be alarmed if it seems to give you wild readings, and take a few samples multiple areas (both ears, across the entire forehead).

From Tuesday to Thursday night, we soaked Gabriel's forehead, neck, chest, back and face with a wet cloth and occasionally used a cold patch on his forehead. Every night he would trash about continuously and clutch on to his mum for comfort. It was distressing to see him suffer but yet he could not comprehend it or communicate effectively to us. We couldn't sleep well because we had to constantly tend to him or hear him complain and cry for many hours into the night.

My brother-in-law recommended the use of a high dose paracetamol that is administered through the anus and we tried one on Gabriel on Tuesday night. It was supposed to rapidly bring down his temperature but it wasn't apparent for him. If you have kids, try keeping some of these; they look like little white bullets. I've yet to figure out the brand.

On my last day of work on Wednesday I even had to take the morning half off. Gabriel was working up his fever and his appetite dropped. He stopped eating semi-solids and could only drink a quarter of his bottle. It seemed like his throat was starting to sore and he couldn't swallow normally. We have to thank my mother-in-law for bringing home-cooked food to us during this time.

The second consultation was at Sunway Medical Hospital on Thursday morning. Our resident pediatrician, Dr Tan, was off the entire week, so we settled for Dr Lim. This time, the doctor suspected a case of bacterial infection. He was reluctant to prescribe antibiotics, aware that it was not entirely beneficial to kids Gabriel's age, but did anyway. At least we established that it was not a major infection that may need emergency treatment, but dengue fever could not yet be tested for so early in this episode. Tests for dengue can only be done from the fifth day of one's fever.

The medication prescribed, other than paracetamol, is Cefaclor / Distaclor.

Gabriel started to turn for the better on Friday morning. All this time that he was feverish, he was still able to babble and sort of show us his discomfort. At this time, his fever dropped to low 37s but for a few hours during noon he was crying non-stop as if he was hurting seriously. Eventually, we couldn't stand it anymore and I started packing stuff to visit Sunway again, hoping to get alternative treatment and/or medication at all costs.

This is when the twist happened.

Once I commenced packing and jumping about, my son's crying subsided and watched my movements intently from his mother's bear hug. We didn't realize it until I was about done, he reached out his hands and wanted me to carry him. For three days we were house-bound, and Gabriel was fussing that we haven't taken him out! Outrageous! ;)

Since our planned Thursday morning trip with some other family members were cancelled, we had no place to go except for my mother-in-law's. Gabriel was looking quite OK in her house and we were contemplating if we could still go down to Singapore. By this time, we have had a couple of confused family members with our plans.

Our good-and-bad call to Singapore started the second round of frustration and waiting. We packed our bags ad hoc on Friday night and started our journey at 2100hrs. This is the ultimate Big Bad Kuala Lumpur - Singapore Journey:

  • Seremban Jam 1 (Before Seremban Exits)
  • Seremban Jam 2 (After Seremban Exits)
  • Low Fuel Level (1.5 litres left) before exit to Second Link, Johor, had to divert to Causeway, Johor Bahru
  • Causeway Jam (Singapore customs at 0300hrs on a Friday night!!!)
I'm very sure the customs deliberately slowed our process to discourage Singapore cars from travelling to Johor and spend away their precious dollars. I hope their actions will be brought to justice in the near future (don't let me find you in KL).

We finally reached home at nearly 0500hrs. My son pooed along the Causeway (I left a smelly thought of the Singapore customs for them) and had to sleep mostly in his mum's arms. Tired, dirty and grossly frustrated, we slept on my mum's ionizer mattress for a few hours.

Saturday morning came, but we were in no condition to visit the zoo or shop in Orchard Road. I had forgotten to bring the cough syrup, so I went to look for it at the local pharmacies. Don't forget the Chinese deer horn powder medicine that cost S$30!

When I came back, Gabriel started to show rashes over his chest, back, and arms. Worried that it was measles or worse, we went to the closest point to Orchard Road for our third and final consultation: KK Hospital.

This is where the good part of going to Singapore apply. It was a public holiday on Sunday (someone's birthday in Malaysia) and there were no consultation doctors available back in KL (it would have to be an on-call case). At KKH, we paid S$75 flat for consultation, blood test, and pharmacy. Lots of kids were screaming and bumming around at the Accident and Emergency department. In the end, Dr Wong told us that the blood test determined that it was a viral infection (possibly Roseola - see link at end of this post) and not dengue. She said that the rashes were caused either by the antibiotics that Dr Lim kindly prescribed or a post-symptom of the infection.

Relieved but very exhausted from carrying, worrying and soothing Gabriel, we were prescribed some cream for his sore throat and more fever syrup. We could then have our Singapore lunch at 1630hrs at home.

Side note: Gabriel's memory or concept of persistence is prevalent lately. Getting his blood was a harrowing experience; he was screaming from being held down for too long while the nurse was drawing blood from his fingertip. While we waited for the test result, he fell asleep. When he woke up, he realized he was still in the same consultation room with screaming children and frantic nurses and he remembered and wailed! Poor fella was traumatized by KKH and company.

We finally had a proper Singapore dinner outside at a nearby favourite Japanese restaurant, Tamako. Highly recommended for its casual feel and good quality noodles and sashimi. It's located along Casuarina Road, Upper Thomson area.

Gabriel only lasted for twenty minutes at the little family restaurant before the worst night of the episode started.

We rushed home and tried to calm Gabriel down. He tumbled and screamed very badly around mum on the bed for two solid hours. It was stressful and depressing to see him suffer like that, but there was nothing else we could do. He couldn't take his fluids and must have found the rashes painful. We prayed earnestly for his recovery, asking for God's grace and protection to be on this little boy. Temperature wasn't a problem at this time.

Sunday morning broke and Gabriel started to really recover finally. His rashes reached his thighs and face, but he seemed to be in a better mood. He came out from the room and for the first time in this trip, talked to people and cruised slowly around the living room. Alas, it was already time in the afternoon to prepare for the trip back to KL. After buying our supplies in Yishun, we packed everything and everyone for the Ultimate Journey. Only this time, the jams and stupidity were in reverse order.

Gabriel slept through most of Monday, but his milk intake increased. The rashes moved downwards and by Wednesday most of it were gone. He started taking his cereal and porridge, but his weight loss has yet to recuperate fully.

We still do not know the cause of his fever and rashes. It could have been teething or viral infection. In any case, this is an experience that I think most parents will have to go through, I'm afraid. We were considered fortunate that both of us had the time to take care of him, at the costs of consultation money, a good shopping trip, and a large family bonding opportunity.

Lessons learnt: be mentally and physically prepared, ensure you have enough working leave, and seek more than one pediatrician advice.

Well... we did bond - my parents freaked out watching us and the rest of two families were alerted. And I'm very proud of my boy for being strong and pulled through.

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