My wife called me at six this evening, telling me to come home; La Serpienta Negra had a high temperature, and we needed to get her seen to. It’s only ten minutes from office to home, although the cantankerous lift that takes me,to the 21st floor often adds time. Today, I arrived at the ground floor at the same time as a lift did. I waited for the people inside to get out. They just stood there. I tried to get in, just as they hit the door close button, thus getting half caught in the grinding jaws of the lift door. We went up one floor. They got out. (This seems quite common in our block of flats: people will get into lifts, regardless of whether they’re travelling in the right direction or not. Most aggravatingly, it seems people hit the up button and the down button, as if anything will bring the lift to them, and not inconvenience anyone else by making them pause, just so the person outside the lift can peer in, apparently dumbfounded that the lift is going up when they wanted to go down. Or vice versa.) But I digress.

I got home to find a ludicrously warm child, her whole body hot to the touch, her cheeks bright pink. We stuck her in her car seat and wheeled her out. She acquiesced, too floppy and drowsy to argue as she usually does. It seemed like every taxi in Singapore was driving down our street this evening, just so they could refuse to take us to the hospital. I’m still unclear why some Singaporean taxi drivers seem to think they should only have to drive you to places that are immediately convenient for them, as if they were doing you a favour by dropping you off somewhere.

This is more aggravating when you want to get your child medical attention.

Eventually a taxi deigned to transport us to NUH. La Serpiente must have been rough as she hardly complained, but when we had her temperature checked at the entrance, it was a paltry 38.5. She’d been veering up to a degree higher this afternoon, which could be a sign of something serious.

We were triaged swiftly (within ten minutes) and I began to realize how hard it is to get vital signs from a baby. Heart rate monitors and blood pressure sleeves are difficult to attach to a struggling infant who will not be reasoned with.

At least they took her temperature a second time, and with it back up to 39.5 things were taken seriously enough to get her checked through quickly. As she wasn’t showing many other symptoms (no rash, no cough, no vomit) it was a bit harder to diagnose exactly what was up, but after she’d had a syringe of paracetamol squirted in her mouth, her temperature began to drop and her spirits lifted, until she was capable of crawling around a hospital bed and drooling.

I felt sorry for the pediatricians, who must be in a state of semi-permanent deafness from having to deal with children like my own, bellowing at the top of their voices whenever a stethoscope gets near them. Or a tongue depressor. Or a person in scrubs. Blimey, she was loud. The only thing that would placate her were videos of her playing (which indicates, however unfortunately, that she’s something of a narcissist).

NUH is quite a pleasant place for a child; rather than bring austere, the walls are brightly coloured and have pictures of fish everywhere. Still, it is a hospital so the less time you spend there the better. I looked around at the masses of pre-teen children with gashes to faces and limbs, including one poor thing with a face that looked like one massive bruise. Comparatively, we seemed to have things quite easy.

In all, we were in the hospital for about three hours, not bad for a Tuesday night. We left with a sweet tempered, cheerful baby of normal temperature and demeanour, somewhat surprised to be out past her bedtime, and well-behaved at least until the taxi queue, after which she melted down again until an hour after we got home, and frazzled, went to bed. So much for the pub quiz.

Exit mobile version