Hotfooting It To Singapore Children’s Hospital

A trip to the emergency department is a right of passage for most new parents. I thought we were going to make it through the first year, free and clear. But one month shy of her first birthday, Miss M developed an alarmingly high fever.

I tried to avoid a midnight trip to hospital by setting out before things got too worrying. We’d been in Singapore five months but we hadn’t found a doctor. And it was Sunday. A colleague had told me the name of Singapore Children’s Hospital – the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital. (Of course, it’s just logical to look under `K’ when you need a hospital in a hurry).

Armed with a googled address and phone number, we jumped into a taxi, the little heat-bead baby strapped to my front. This was Singapore efficiency at its best. The taxi driver knew exactly where to go and Miss M fell asleep during the drive. (This is somehow linked to Singapore efficiency, I’m sure.)

We walked into a reception area and took a number from a machine. It’s the same kind of system they have in the banks here. Within five minutes we were with a triage nurse, who told us that Miss M would get priority because, even though a fever wasn’t the most serious case on the books, she was only 11 months. Her temperature was 39. She gave us some wet sponges and sent us over to the cashier to pay.

Being Sunday, being disorganized… I didn’t have any cash. Darling man had enough for the taxi and the hospital clerk was unfazed, just taking my ATM card and sucking S$80 out of my bank account.

We proceeded through to the other waiting area. It was filled with all children of all shapes and sizes. There were a few bandaged arms, several coughing kids and a whole bunch of sad sick pasty faces.

We waited. Miss M hated the sponge, pushing it away and grizzling. The hours ticked by. It was time for her to have another dose of baby panadol but I was worried there was something wrong with the bottle we’d brought over from Vietnam. I decided to wait to see the doctor.

Eventually we were called. A little boy threw up as I walked past. Luckily it missed my shoe, so I was able to charitably think “poor fella”. Miss M was pretty miserable by now but she has her father’s pleasant demeanor and so it wasn’t too terrible for us, the parents.

The doctor called a nurse to bring some of the hospital’s baby panadol. Fifteen minutes after sucking a syringe-full of pink liquid, Miss M’s temperature was 39.5. The doctor ordered a urine test and another nurse stuck a plastic bag on Miss M’s lady bits and we taped her nappy back up.

Our lovely little baby turned out to be a pee-on-demand baby. A bonus function we hadn’t discovered. (Didn’t read it in the manual either). The doctor had warned us that some parents have waited six hours for their darling little one to produce enough pee for a urine test. Thankfully, Miss M had been drinking lots of water from her new purple straw-cup, a freebie with the last lot of formula Darling Man had bought.

The results of the urine test took five minutes to come back negative. Having ruled out a urinary tract infection, which the doctor said was the most common cause of an unexplained high fever, we were told it was “just a bug”. No cough, no runny nose, no vomiting, so the only other scientific explanation was “just a bug”.

Next stop the pharmacy, to pick up two bottles of the KK Hospital’s best baby panadol, then we were headed for the taxi rank.

Poor Miss M had a miserable few days, as did we. She broke out in what I diagnosed (with the help of Uncle Google) as a post-viral rash. I had picked up the bug too and was just too exhausted to return to KK when the rash broke out. I took her temperature and it was lower than normal. We went to bed expecting a midnight run to the emergency department but we weren’t so worried about it now, being KK emergency department veterans.

One week later and our lovely baby is back to her usual happy energetic self. After her nap, when things are a bit cooler, we’ll take her for another bike ride. She enjoyed the first half of her first ride last week, then got very serious. That must have been when she started feeling sick. By the end of the ride, she was very hot – and she wasn’t even pedaling!

KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital 24-hour phone number: +65 6-2255 554

KK’s Ask-A-Nurse Service: 1900-556-8773 (Charged at 80 cents/minute, operates 8am-midnight, and isn’t available if you have a pre-paid sim card)


10 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.

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