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The Mysterious Fever

Noah came down with a fever on Saturday evening, and his temperature stubbornly remained extremely high for the subsequent four days. At its peak, his fever hit 39.4 degrees, and stayed that way for hours, on multiple occasions.


This isn’t the first time that Noah has had a fever, nor is it the first time he’s sick overseas, but it is the highest his temperature has ever been.

We first realised he had a fever when our friend, who was carrying him during our dinner on Saturday, told us that he felt a little warm. Noah was still as active as before, socialising with the restaurant staff, and there were no other symptoms at all, so we hoped it wasn’t anything serious.

When we got home from dinner, we took his temperature and were surprised that it was 38.4 degrees, as he didn’t seem sick at all. We quickly gave him some paracetamol, followed by a quick shower, and prayed it would go away by the morning.

The fever came down slightly, but went steadily up after a few hours. When it hit 39.4 degrees, we gave him a dose of ibuprofen. (Our PD back in Singapore told us previously that we should give him ibuprofen for anything above 38.5 degrees.) His fever never really went away the whole of Sunday, and we were really worried. We sponged him, and even placed some ice in a wet towel to ice his forehead, neck, and armpits, as he was getting too hot for our liking. We also ensured that he was drinking plenty of water through the day.

Apart from the high temperature, there were still no other symptoms, and he seemed pretty happy in general. This was him on Sunday, ‘reading’ one of the library books, and pointing out the horse in the stable to me.

Horse!


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On Monday morning, I called a nearby clinic to get an appointment for Noah, and was told that the earliest available one was in the afternoon. I tried to explain that my baby had a very high fever, but she said they were fully booked for the morning. Thankfully, she gave me the numbers of another two clinics in the area. (I still can’t understand how the system here works. How can I book a doctor’s appointment in advance, unless I’m bringing him in for a routine vaccination? How on earth can I predict when I’m going to be sick and get an appointment for that in advance?)

The next clinic I called was fully booked for the day, and suggested that I bring him to another clinic at the hospital in the afternoon (because that was the earliest available slot). I prayed really hard before making the call to the last clinic, and thank God, they had an appointment at 1030am.

The weather that day was still rather chilly, so even though the clinic was a 15-20 minute walk away, I decided to bring Noah there in a cab instead. His fever was back at 39 degrees, so I sponged him a little before we went to the clinic.

The doctor was surprised that his temperature was so high, given how active he was. She checked his ears, throat, and chest, but couldn’t find anything wrong. She thought it might be either a virus, or a urine infection, so she gave me a small cup, and told me to bring a sample of his urine back by the end of the day, for testing. She told me to let him go around without his diaper, because “sooner or later, he’s going to pee”, and I could then “catch some” in the cup.

I was stressed. We are currently in an almost fully carpeted serviced apartment, and the thought of him peeing on the carpet was not a pleasant one. I felt silly following him around with the cup, and after a while, hauled him into the bathroom, and made all the usual ‘shhhhh-shhhhhh’ sounds to try and get him to pee. Noah looked at me as though I were crazy, and after a while, he started looking as though he would cry instead of pee, so I let him out again. I made him stay in the kitchenette, the only other non-carpeted area in the apartment, but he got bored after a while. I fed him plenty of water, read many books with him, played, but still, no pee. He was getting cranky, and wanted to be nursed for his nap, but I just couldn’t let him sleep without a diaper on.

Finally, I prayed, and brought him to the room, made him stand next to the bed, gave him a toy to play with, as I wiped his butt continuously with a wet wipe, made peeing sounds, and held the cup over his penis. After a while, I actually managed to get a teeny bit of pee!

That’s how much pee I managed to collect (Sorry for the extremely blurry photo. It was very difficult to take a photo of it while Noah was whining away!)


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Thankfully, the doctor told me earlier that they only needed a bit of pee for the test, so I thought it would be good enough. When I sent it in that evening after Noah’s nap, I was relieved that the receptionist accepted it without a word. All she said was to call the next morning before our appointment in the afternoon, just to confirm that the test results would be back by then.

That day, Noah wasn’t too keen on eating anything except strawberries, so I let him have some strawberries for his lunch, and managed to feed him some porridge and strawberries in the evening. The doctor said that it was more important to get him to drink enough fluids, rather than eat, so that was what I did.

Eating strawberries


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Noah’s fever stubbornly refused to go away, and we noticed that whenever we gave him paracetamol, his temperature would drop slightly, but would go up within four hours. With ibuprofen, it would take about six hours, and even then, it would hit 39 degrees and above.

We met up with one of C’s colleagues and his wife, L, last week, as she was visiting from the US. Coincidentally, she’s actually a nurse in the ER, and I was thankful that she offered to come over on Tuesday to take a look at Noah, and to accompany us to the clinic. Noah was quite happy to play with her, and she was also baffled by how normal he seemed, apart from the high fever.

We saw a different doctor on Tuesday, and he said it was a real mystery why Noah had been running such a high temperature for so many days. He even called a PD for a consult, and was asked to check Noah’s tongue (good thing I taught him how to stick out his tongue upon request) and hands to see if he had HFMD, which he didn’t. Again, we were told to monitor him, and to bring him straight to the hospital if he became lethargic and listless. He said it was probably a virus, and it would most likely go away as mysteriously as it came. He said I could choose not to medicate Noah at all, but if I really wanted to, I should alternate between paracetamol and ibuprofen. (Apparently, there is a very small chance that he could get some kind of kidney problem with too much ibuprofen.) Apart from that, the doctor suggested that I keep Noah cool, which meant removing his hoodie and walking back to the apartment in the cold with him only in a long-sleeved top. I was rather skeptical about it, but decided to just try it, since nothing else we had been doing was effective. Noah’s temperature was still 39.3 degrees when we got back, so it was another dose of ibuprofen for him, and more milk to comfort him.

When C got back, we brought Noah out for a short walk, but decided to leave the hoodie on, as it was too cold not to. Noah was still pretty cheerful, and as he’s into pressing buttons these days, we let him press the lift buttons, which made him really happy. (I generally tell him ‘once is enough’ but he got to press the same button a few times that day, because he was sick.)

Busy pressing the buttons in the lift


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Noah has always been difficult to feed, and I think he became even more of a reluctant eater during this period. I have resorted to showing him videos of himself on my iPhone, just to get him to eat, and even then, he doesn’t finish all his porridge. I’ve always said that I would NEVER use the iPhone to distract him during meals, but I guess I was wrong. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

At 830pm on Tuesday, Noah was stubbornly refusing to eat, and kept spitting out every single spoonful of porridge. I checked his temperature, and it was at 39.4 degrees again. We gave him a dose of ibuprofen, and C showered Noah quickly, before I iced him. We prayed again and again, and many of our friends whom I’ve been updating about Noah’s condition, told us that they were keeping him in prayer too. We set our alarm for 230am, and were so relieved to find that he didn’t have a fever when the alarm rang.

It’s 1020am now, and thank God that the fever seems to have finally broken. Noah is still asleep, and I’ll check his temperature once he wakes up, but his forehead feels much cooler than it has been over the past four days.

I am very thankful for all the support we’ve been getting through this really stressful period. I’ve been tweeting about his condition, and many of my Twitter friends have been sending me positive messages and telling me that they are praying for him. We also have a few Christian friends here in Adelaide, and they too, have been asking for updates on Noah, offering advice, and of course, keeping him in prayer. Our family and friends back in Singapore have also been so very supportive, which has made this whole period a bit less scary, despite us being in a foreign country. We’ve had L, a nurse, spend her whole day with us yesterday, and she will also be coming to spend the day with us today. C’s close friend, D, is a doctor here, and he has also been giving us advice on how to manage Noah’s symptoms. He also loaned us a humidifier, which we have been using in the room whenever Noah is sleeping.

Above all, I am thankful that God has seen us through this mysterious illness, and I pray that Noah has fully recovered from it.

UPDATE: Noah’s temperature is currently 37.6 degrees, which means he still has a slight fever, but at least it’s not as high as before. He also started having a rash on his belly in the early afternoon. The rash spread quickly to his neck, face, and scalp, all within two hours, so I rushed him back to the clinic again. The doctor said that the rash looked harmless, and that it was probably part of what he thinks is a viral fever. It should clear up within a few days, and I can choose to leave it alone or moisturise him in the meantime. I still have to give him plenty of fluids and monitor him closely for signs of lethargy or blisters, but for now, he seems to be finally on the mend.

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