Breaking out


The Dad Diary
Edwin McGreal

I felt like a frontiersman last Monday night. Éamon’s form all day had been poor and was not improving. He was struggling to eat and drink, and his temperature was not going below 38 degrees, despite the aid of Calpol.
It’s fair to say most people would prefer not to be going to a doctor or hospital right now, but if you need to go, it would be reckless not to.
We rang the doctor, and after a discussion about his symptoms, a nighttime appointment was made. GPs are playing a blinder these weeks, not just in dealing with the magnitude of the Covid-19 crisis and all the complications that brings but in dealing with everything else too.
So down we went. A 15-minute drive, and not once on the way down or up did we meet a car. It felt like we were discovering unsettled territory in America in the 19th century. It was eerily quiet.
It also felt somewhat exciting, to be out of the house and going for a drive. Being mainly confined to the house right now, it is amazing what can float your boat in these days of lockdown.
The visit was necessary – it turned out Éamon had a bad case of tonsillitis and needed an antibiotic.
Just two hours earlier I had interviewed Tony Canavan, the CEO of the northwest hospital group, Saolta, which includes Mayo University Hospital.
He urged people to go to hospital if they need to go. Numbers attending at the Emergency Department had sharply declined, pointing to a certain fear among the public.
The same applies to visits to the doctor’s surgery. I was barely off the phone to him when I was having the same internal dialogue, and deciding that being better safe than sorry in this instance meant going to the doctor and not waiting at home.
The only advice I can give anyone unsure what to do is ring your doctor, explain the symptoms and trust their judgement on whether you need to go to the surgery or not. The last thing anyone needs right now is to make a bad situation worse. Covid-19 will not, unfortunately, be the only thing to occupy the health service these days.
Éamon gradually improved with the help of the antibiotic and Calpol. He has added the word ‘yeah’ to his vocabulary (along with ‘no’, ‘bath’ and ‘tractor’) so we can play a process of elimination now when he’s crying.
If you say the wrong thing he will keep crying, but strike on the right question and he will stop crying and let out a long ‘yeaaahh’. It might be ‘Do you want to go to bed?’, ‘Do you want your bok?’ (bottle) or ‘Will we read a book?’ It must be so comforting for him to be finally at the stage where he can communicate what he wants with more clarity. Although equally frustrating waiting for the right question!
But you hate to see them sick. You wish you could perform a trick like John Coffey in the film ‘The Green Mile’ and literally draw the sickness out of them and into you.
But, minus such supernatural skills, if they are sick, don’t think twice about seeking medical advice and guidance.

In his fortnightly column, Edwin McGreal charts the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.