T is for Tonsillitis

This is going to be a long rambling story about tonsillitis. Be warned.

30 Jan 2017, Monday

On the 3rd day of CNY, we headed out to ECP as Elliott wanted to ‘play sand’. I had a lovely quiet prata and teh tarik breakfast all by myself (ah, the bliss) while everyone else was baking hanging out at the beach.

He came out all fresh and clean from his shower and ran off like a speeding bullet towards the Marina Cove Playground that was conveniently located beside the kids-friendly shower area. I was hesitant about letting him head to the playground because being a public holiday, it was MAD CROWDED with children of all age and sizes. Call me paranoid mama but crowds = VIRUSES GALORE.

Too late.

He was way too fast for me to even get near him. I was holding onto Moon and obviously, I couldn’t drag Moon into the play area. Daddy was still washing the sand out of his toys so I could only look on (in dismal) as he climbed, crawled, hung and STUCK his face into various talking tubes (nooooo).

We headed straight to the car after and I stupidly forgot to clean his hands. Honestly, I don’t think it would have helped anyway.

Fast forward to evening.

We had a CNY dinner gathering at a friend’s new home. On our way there, E was uncharacteristically quiet. When we got there, he stuck to my side and refused to play with the other kids. Again, this is very untypical of him. He’s generally quite a sociable boy so warning bells were going off in my head. I felt his forehead and it was a little warm.

When I tried to feed him his dinner, he kept grimacing and kept saying: I don’t want to eat. He was also in tears which was again, quite odd. Finally, after only about 4 mouthfuls, I decided to stop and have my own dinner instead. I don’t like forcing kids to eat. He sat on the couch watching cartoons with the boy.

Halfway through my dinner, I heard a commotion from the sofa – E threw up. On the boy. Oh dear me. Thankfully, it was his friend’s home so he could borrow a clean t-shirt. I was also thankful that we had a fresh change of clothes in his bag. After we cleaned him up, he didn’t feel as warm to the touch and started to become more alert and cheerful. He even asked for ‘soup and rice’ which we gave. Towards the end of the evening, he was pretty much back to his usual happy and active self so I just put it down to just a random fever and something he ate.

The next day, he ran a fever with no other symptoms so we kept him home, away from school. One particular night, it hit a high of 39.8 degrees so we had to break out the Bifen suspension (commonly known as Ibuprofen). Poor kid was whimpering and tossing in his sleep but thankfully, he managed to fall asleep properly after the medicine. We pretty much kept him at home the entire week for him to recuperate.

First victim: Elliott

On Wednesday, he complained of pain in his mouth and was refusing his usual meals. This was unlike him as he usually likes his rice/noodles and soup. He was also starting to refuse his nightly milk which is a HUGE WARNING BELL. He just kept saying: paiiiin.  This kid loves his milk so for him to not want to drink milk? Ding ding ding.

I asked him exactly where it hurt and he pointed inside his mouth (I’m so glad that he’s old enough to verbalise what he needs now!). When I shone the torchlight into his mouth, I was shocked to see that his tonsils were covered in tiny white ulcers. OH DEAR ME! No wonder he had trouble eating. That probably explains the crazy high fever as well. I mentally beat myself up for not checking his mouth earlier. Sigh.

2 Feb 2017, Thursday

Got Popo to take him (because we had work commitments so we are always grateful for our village) to the family GP who asked why didn’t we take him in earlier (oops #mummyguilt right there). He said that there were many tiny ulcers dotting his tonsils and some were turning into pus. URGH. Diagnosed it as acute tonsillitis and gave him a dose of (toddler) Augmentin 70ml suspension along with a bottle of fever meds as standby.

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I knew there was no way E was going to ingest Augmentin on its own without putting up a huge fight. Honestly, I don’t blame him. It was powdery and flakey. Really quite gross. Thankfully, when we added it into his pre-nap milk, he finished every single drop. PHEW. That’s another thing to be grateful for – this kid will finish his milk regardless of how it tastes. We have added Flumicil (which is orange flavoured!) to his milk and he will still finish his bottle of milk. Hehe.

Thankfully, he got on the mend the next few days and was back to his usual active self. He was also starting to eat his usual solid food which was a relief.

Next victim: The boy

3 Feb 2017, Friday

The boy told me that he was having a sore throat and feeling feverish. He looked extremely sick and weak which is a RARE SIGHT. This husband of mine rarely falls ill so to see him in that sick state was definitely cause for alarm. I told him to PLEASE GO AND SEE A DOCTOR NOW (lunch hour) and thankfully, he listened to his wife for once and took a cab straight to the neighbourhood GP.

Not surprisingly, he caught the tonsillitis bug from E so he got given a bout of (adult) Augmentin, MAC lozenges and paracetemol for the fever. To cut a long story (slightly) shorter, he basically slept the next 2 days away. He was that sick. Barely ate anything except for plain porridge because it hurt too much to eat anything else.

4 Feb 2017, Saturday

We had another CNY lunch gathering and because the boy was still feeling ill (and we do not want to spread germs), E and I went for lunch. It was only after lunch that I started to feel the onset of that dreaded ‘sore throat’. I was hoping to put it down to sore throat from CNY feasting (because steamboat is heaty, yes?) but at the back of my head, I knew what it was.

Next victim: Me

True enough, that same evening, I burned up with a fever that hovered between 38 and 39.8 degrees. I was also shivering uncontrollably even though I was in a non-airconditioned room wearing long-sleeved pyjamas and pants, AND had the blanket over me. It was torturous. I swung between feeling mad hot to shivering, to sweating profusely after downing paracetamol to try and bring down the temperature. Needless to say, I was literally confined to bed and feeling absolutely S***TY.

Thankfully, the boy recovered sufficiently to take over parenting duties. He hasn’t recovered fully but at least he was able to get out of bed and be mobile. I was really thankful we both did not catch the bug at the same time. Count small blessings eh.

5 Feb 2017, Sunday

Survived the horrible night of crazy fever and made my way to the same neighbourhood GP who diagnosed me as – no surprises there – acute tonsillitis. But of course. Gave me the same meds as the boy and instructed me to stay home to rest (2 days of medical leave) with loads of water.

This is where it got interesting.

Ate my lunch and ingested 1 dose of Augmentin. 15 mins later, I threw up everything. Ugh. I could only tolerate the paracetamol. Was undecided if I should take another pill or wait till later. Decided to wait it out.

Dinner time came round. Had dinner, waited for a bit and swallowed another Augentin pill. Did I mention that I really hate it? It’s huge and GROSS. Same story – 15 minutes or so (I know because I timed myself), and I had to rush to the porcelain bowl again.

This wasn’t working. If the meds weren’t going in, I wasn’t going to get well.

6 Feb 2017, Monday

I was advised to see an ENT specialist to see if there are other meds that can help so I made an appointment with Dr Chan Kwai Onn who came recommended. Managed to get a 2.45pm appointment the same day so I made my way down. At first, I was surprised that it was empty but as I was filling up the registration form, streams of people walked through the door. Thankfully, I did not have to wait longer than 15 minutes before I asked to enter the consultation room.

I noticed that the room had little dinosaurs standing in a row, as well as various stickers strewn over his consultation table. As it turns out, he does Paediatric ENT Care as well. Good to know. He was friendly and introduced himself as Dr Chan. I told him the entire history of what happened and he scribbled them onto his screen (so high-tech). He then made me sit on the reclining chair where he explained that he will be using a spray-on aesthetic to numb my nose and throat so that he can do a scope.

He then asked that I wait outside for about 5 minutes for it to take effect while he attended to other patients. Very efficient, I like. It barely felt like 5 minutes when I was called in again.

Once again, I sat on the reclining chair and in front of me was a TV screen. I knew what was going to happen and realised that for the very first time in my life, I was going to see the insides of my nose and throat. It was a mix of excitement and slight apprehension as I have a strong gag reflex (my poor dentist) so I wasn’t sure how I was going to react to having a tube down my nose and throat.

He first asked that I stick out my tongue so that he could hold onto it with a piece of gauze. I made it a point to highlight that I have a strong gag reflex so please be warned 🙂 Thankfully, it wasn’t too bad as the tube didn’t go too far down. Yet. At this stage, he pointed out various tiny white ulcers dotting my red and swollen tonsils.

He then proceeded to stick another tube (or was it the same – I can’t remember) down my nose to check it. He declared that my nose was clear. However, as the tube moved further down my throat, it was pretty horrifying to see that my entire throat (and not just the top of it that is visible from my mouth) is covered in evil-looking white ulcers.

At that very moment, I felt like it was a scene straight out of a B-grade sci-fi alien movie. It was, for lack of a better word, GROSS. Dr Chan then explained that this is why it’s painful to even swallow saliva, let alone eat.

I showed him my box of Augmentin (which he took a cursory look at) and explained that Augmentin only works on infections caused by bacteria. As taken from this website:

Augmentin is one of the workhorses of the pediatrician’s office, prescribed for ear infections that are resistant to amoxicillin alone, sore throats and certain eye infections. The drug is also a powerful agent against bronchitis and tonsillitis caused by bacteria (though many cases of sore throat are viral in origin).

He shared that what I was suffering from is acute tonsillitis caused by virus and not bacteria. This means that no amount of Augmentin was going to work. He instructed me to stop taking Augmentin (WOOHOO!!!) and went on to prescribe me with Acyclovir 400mg which, according to this website, treats virus infections. I noted this important point from the website:

It’s important to know that acyclovir does not cure viral infections. However, it can make infections shorter and less serious for some people.

I left the clinic with this bill. Gulp. But! I am glad to have nipped the damn illness in the butt and also, I was told by the lovely nurses that the bill is claimable via insurance and Medisave (only for the scope but better than nothing!).

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I’m also putting a picture of the key meds in this blog entry so that I can remember what medicine it was that was administered.

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I’m now wondering: There must be tons of people out there who are taking Augmentin religiously after seeing the GP (like the boy) for tonsillitis and wondering why they are not well. For the record, the boy finished his 5-day course of antibiotics and still has a very sore throat. It is day 5 since the onset of the infection and I am pretty much back to feeling like a normal person. The fever has since abated and my throat no longer feels like a thousand knives are scratching against it.

Thank you for making it to the end of this very long winded entry. It is rare that I blog about illness and only do when it’s bad enough. Like this Bronchiolitis episode, and the other one for Croup. I just had to detail down this episode of tonsillitis that pretty much took down the entire family.

So here’s another PSA (public service announcement):

There’s a tonsillitis outbreak going on right now (doctor’s words, not mine). Please wash your hands THOROUGHLY and PROPERLY with SOAP as it is the only way to get rid of illness-causing viruses. Wet wipes work only if they contain a certain amount of alcohol (at least 70% alcohol!).

Stay healthy, everyone!

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2 thoughts on “T is for Tonsillitis

  1. What a nightmare! Glad you found this ENT specialist to diagnose your problem properly, or you’d still be trying to swallow the huge capsule. *shudder* Drink plenty of honey, and I hope all of you stay virus-free for a long, long time.

    • Hey Adeline, thanks for the kind words. And yes, even though my pocket has a huge hole (ouch), I’m just so thankful to finally sort out the whole thing. It was really horrible being SO DARN SICK! Stay safe and healthy!

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