Not ‘just a cough’

My daughter had already been ill for several days. She’d had a very high temperature, she’d lost her appetite and some weight, she struggled to walk from the settee to the toilet. And she had a cough.

Not just any cough. A cough which caused her pain. A cough which made her whole body seize up. A cough which actually made her sick. A cough which started and wouldn’t stop.

On her fourth day off school ill, she really ought to have been on the mend. But she woke up late and she coughed and she coughed and she coughed. Her face was red, her hair was stuck to it and she was crying. Because she didn’t want to be ill any more, but didn’t know how she was going to get better.

I’d put Vicks on her, propped up her pillow, given her sweets to suck and water to sip. What else could I do? I wanted to make her better, but I just didn’t know how.

(Yes, I could have given her cough medicine, but we didn’t have any and knowing how much she dislikes medicine of any form, it would probably just have made her more distressed.)

I looked at her lying there and I knew I’d done all I could and it wasn’t enough. She’d been ill for days, but she looked worse than ever.

So I rang the doctor.

I’m not the sort of person who rings the doctor for a cough, a cold or a virus. Even when my husband and sons had flu, we knew it was flu and we knew they just had to get through it, awful as it was.

I wasn’t sure whether she needed to see the doctor or whether the doctor could just give me some advice over the phone. Maybe there was something magical I was missing to help relieve her cough?

I’m very grateful that at 10.35am, the doctor gave her an appointment for 11am.

Although I wasn’t quite sure how I was even going to get her out of the house. And she definitely needed to take her sick bowl.

I bet the other people in the waiting room were cursing us. The doctor was running late and she coughed and coughed and coughed. At one point, she gagged, but to her credit, she managed to avoid actually being sick.

When she walked in the doctor asked what was wrong.

‘It says here ‘cough’, but I can see it’s more than that.’

She looked dreadful and she was carrying a sick bowl. It wasn’t ‘just’ a cough.

He was a lovely doctor, who checked her over thoroughly. I was hoping it wouldn’t be dismissed as just a virus. I know viruses can be bad, but I also know they can’t be treated and she desperately needed some help.

She had a temperature, so he gave her antibiotics just in case she had a slight chest infection. But the main problem was inflamed lungs. They weren’t going to get better overnight and the constant coughing was just going to make things worse.

So he prescribed her steroids for the inflammation. He prescribed her tiny 5mg tablets and she had to have six of them on the first day, five on the second day and gradually reduce the number as the cough improved.

He said it would work like magic. Within two or three hours, the cough would start to ease. My daughter cried because she didn’t want so many tablets. And I nearly cried because it was going to work like magic. Because magic is exactly what we needed right then.

When we got home, I stopped panicking a bit about her cough, because I knew it was going to get under control. It was still miserable for her, but the end was in sight (even though the steroids didn’t actually work like magic!).

Hopefully she would actually make it back to school and ballet the following week.

It might have started with a virus but I’m so glad we actually went to the doctor’s. Because it most definitely wasn’t ‘just’ a cough.

Medicine, Daughter, Doctor, Illness, 365

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. It must have been a bit scary to see your daughter so unwell. Good though that you got an appointment quickly to get some help.

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    • Thanks very much, it was really scary! So glad she went to the doctor’s when she did because she would probably have only got worse! As it is, her recovery is extremely slow. Sadly not quite the magic we were hoping for.

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  2. Aww! Bless her…It sounds like she has been so poorly! It’s so good you took her to the doctors.
    I hope she is feeling a bit better now x

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    • Thanks very much! She’s feeling slightly better, but it’s been a very slow recovery for her! x

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  3. oh, it’s so awful when your child is so sick and you feel so helpless. I hope she makes a quick recovery and well done for getting her the help and medication she needs. When my little girl was only 3 I was worried about her cough but the GP was not, then she ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. We are told all the time to not go to the GP for the slightest thing, but we really need to trust our instincts too. x

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    • Oh my goodness, that must have been really scary! You’re so right that we have to trust our instincts. The doctor actually checked my daughter for pneumonia too, which I hadn’t even considered! x

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  4. So good that you went and that they gave her the meds she needed. Poor girl has had it tough last week. So glad she’s better now x

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    • Thanks very much! She really did have a tough week. x

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  5. Oh gosh how awful for you both, I’m so glad the doctor was able to give you something to sort it out and I hope she’s well on her way to being mended now.

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    • Thanks very much. She went back to school after a week off and although she’s still tired, she is making it through the day and managing school and a dance class! x

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  6. She really has had a rough time, as I am sure you have had too. Thank goodness you were seen quickly, and I bet you are relieved she is on the mend now. So worrying when they are so poorly for days and not getting any better x

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    • Thanks very much, it was a real relief! I’m so glad the doctor agreed to see her. x

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  7. Oh bless her that sounds really awful! I’m so glad that you were seen quickly and that she is getting better. xx

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    • Thanks very much, it was a tough few weeks! x

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  8. Hi Sarah, it’s awful when children are so ill. I’m like you and don’t automatically head for the Doctor, and believe it’s better to try and ride it out, if possible. There does come a time though, when the Doctor is needed and you did the right thing. I hope your daughter is on the mend now.

    I swear by half a lemon, a big spoon of honey and a grating of ginger in hot water to help sooth a cough, but there comes a time when even that is not enough.


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    • Thanks very much! She’s still coughing slightly, but she’s been at school for most of the week. The honey, lemon and ginger sounds perfect, although I doubt I’d get my daughter to swallow it – she even struggles with Calpol sometimes! x

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