Disease Boy

Alex has finally recovered from the worst illness of his short life.

It all started on Thursday, May 15, when his temperature started to climb. As always for Alex, this illness was rapidly followed by vomiting. (Actually, he had thrown up a little bit the previous day, but we didn’t see anything unusual in that.)

Friday was no better, with 39 to 40 degree fevers barely responding to paracetamol and periodic barfing. We were struggling to keep him hydrated – food was right out of the question. He was listless and delerious, his pulse was racing, and he was just not himself.

By the Saturday morning, Alex seemed a little better. He was alert and cheerful. He took a walk with his dad, even ate some bread. But he declined again that evening, lapsing into a daze.

He remained very unwell throughout Sunday , May 18. His grandparents Sutherland came over to see him (and give Martin and me a bit of respite). But even the social stimulation didn’t make him feel better. By that evening, Alex was so much worse, and his fever was so uncontrolled, that we called the out of hours doctor’s office. He ended up in the emergency room of the Sick Kids hospital for observation. They gave him some ibuprofen as well as the paracetamol (the two drugs don’t conflict.) It brought the fever down (he was running about in the nude in the examination room at one point, dragging a pull toy and laughing madly).

Then he relapsed again. He was fevered and delerious throughout Monday, lying limp in my arms most of the day. (I stayed home from work to nurse him.)

On Tuesday morning, he staged another partial recovery, but was back to half a degree of fever by the end of the day.

This was a problem, because we were booked for a five-day trip to Rome from the 21st. It was a close thing, whether we took him to the airport on Wednesday morning, or to the doctor’s for a note for the travel insurance. We decided on the airport, and very nearly regretted it when he threw up at the departure gate.

The day’s travel was actually easier because Alex was so sick. We kept him hydrated, and he slept a lot. The only difficulty was his alarm at takeoff and landing, which was severe. We got to the hotel at about 9, and all collapsed in bed. Alex and Martin slept for over 12 hours, well into Thursday morning. (I got up and sat in the sun in the Piazza del Populo).

The story from then on was one of slow, steady recovery. His appetite returned gradually (encouraged by a newfound liking for pizza), his energy levels climbed, and by Friday he was our mischevous, flirtatious boy again.

Saturday, our final day in Rome, was a delight after all that illness.

(Alex’ illness unfortunately corresponded with a severe backache on Martin’s part, which kept him home from work for two days and made the entire time very painful.)

The Conversationalist

Alex is beginning to remember, and talk about, the events of the day. He’s even becoming capable of making conversation, which seems pretty abstract for a two year old.

A couple of examples crystallised this for me.

On Sunday morning, Alex and I went out to the Elephant House cafe on George IV Bridge in central Edinburgh. It was Martin’s morning for sleeping in, and I wanted to get us out of the house. While we were there, I treated Alex to the house specialty, a sugar cookie shaped like (surprise!) an elephant. He ate it while showing Mr Elephant (the larger of his stuffed elephants) all the elephant bric a brac in a cabinet.

That afternoon, he was washing dishes with his father. He turned to Martin and said, “Mama effant cookie”. He’d clearly remembered the incident, and wanted to tell his Dada about it.

Then, today, I was talking on the phone to my mother. Alex asked for the phone (“A’ phone!”). He loves talking to his Pepa (Grandma, somehow) Foley on the phone. So he said “cow moo” (talking about the cows we’d seen on the way home from nursery), then cooed like the doves that have been nesting in the neighbourhood (we’d heard and commented on them on the way home).

But then he said, unprompted, “Duck. Quack-quack.” Now, to my knowledge, he hasn’t seen a duck in weeks, so he wasn’t describing the day’s events. And he didn’t have any toy ducks nearby. I think he was filling the conversational gap…it was toddler shorthand for “Did you know that a duck goes ‘quack-quack’? Isn’t that interesting?”

We already have a chatterbox on our hands, but it’s fun watching him mature into a conversationalist as well.

Alex is sick again: update

Fortunately the illness didn’t last for very long. Often when he is sick, we won’t give him anything to eat for 24-36 hours, because that’s still in the “barf zone”. But by Friday afternoon he was a lot better, and he even had a proper dinner. Now he’s just back to being his usual mischievous toddler self again.


I love watching Alex try out adult behaviours, role playing the parts of his parents. Last night was a wonderful example.

When I put him to bed, I tend to lie down next to him for about 10 minutes, singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star or talking about the day. It can be hard to fit into the bed, with all the cuddly toys he has there (eight at last count: two bears, three elephants, a baby doll, Milo from the Tweenies, and Po from the Teletubbies). But he likes having all of his friends (we call them Clan Beowulf) with him at night, and these are the dolls that play Alex when he’s playing us.

So I was lying in bed with him last night, singing Twinkle. And I could hear him going “Shhhh…” intermittently next to me, and making some sort of patting, thumping sound. I knew he wasn’t shushing me, because when he doesn’t want to sing he isn’t very subtle about it. I glanced over.

He had Po in his arms, and was alternately patting her back and rubbing it in little circles while gently shushing her. Just like we do when he’s upset.


Alex is sick again

He wasn’t feeling well yesterday evening, and he had a case of the chills when I took him out of the bath. He didn’t even ask for a story before bedtime! All he wanted to do was curl up under the warm covers and have me sing “twinkle, twinkle” to him.

When he woke up this morning, we found that he was very fevered and had been a wee bit sick during the night. (Usually when he does that he wakes us up as well, but he must have been feeling so exhausted from the fever that he fell straight back asleep again.)

He’s at home now with mom, being all tired and limp. Awww…