Ever since my now 18-month-old son was born, I’ve managed to avoid and treat any sickness with nothing more than just proper nutrition, vitamins, and herbs from our indoor garden. I was proud to say he never took any painkiller, antibiotic, or paracetamol. In fact, he has gone on more than 37 flights and never got sick. Well, that was until last December when our family took a trip to Japan and got the scare of our lives.
On our way to Japan, Luca was a bit feverish, but he slept soundly on the plane. Our first two days were pleasant as well, and we even spent Christmas day in Tokyo Disneyland. Luca's temperature was still hot, but he was energetic and laughed his way throughout the trip.
The day after Christmas, in the middle of the night, I woke up to see my son’s body shaking. I grabbed him from the crib, and that's when I noticed his temperature had shot sky high! He still wasn’t crying, but he was a little bit irritable because he wanted to sleep. Half asleep and sweating, I tried to get some water down his throat. I felt he was dehydrated.
Afterwards, my husband and I brought him outside in his carrier, hoping the cold air would help bring down his temperature a bit. It worked, and my son was able to sleep soundly in the carrier. As he slept, my husband and I walked the streets of Osaka in the wee hours of the night looking for a pharmacy.
Even with Google Translate, it was hard to communicate to the pharmacists that all I needed was paracetamol, which was suitable for babies. At this point, we thought it was best to bring him to the nearest "English speaking" hospital and have my son admitted immediately.
At the hospital, however, the attending physician diagnosed him with bronchitis, a stomach virus, and the flu. Somehow my gut told me this was all wrong. It was hard to explain a "feeling," but I trusted my instinct as a mom. I was grateful that my husband agreed with me especially when he found out that our Ninong, who is a doctor, and his wife, who was my husband’s pediatrician, were also in Japan at a hotel not far from ours.
With Ninong's help, I finally got access to paracetamol he bought from a Japanese pharmacy and hydrating powder he brought from Manila. But they couldn't accurately assess whether my son was suffering from a virus or a bacterial infection. The latter scared me because I’ve been a victim of bacterial infections many times before, and it meant we had to be on the flight back to Manila as soon as possible. They advised us to go back to our hotel and see if the paracetamol would work and monitor my son over the course of the next 24 hours.
Once my husband and I got back to our hotel, though, I kept thinking about my son's symptoms. They were much like that of the flu, but it was nothing like a bacterial infection. I was not a doctor, but I was a holistic health professional who has had a lot of experience around the sick (I also learned a lot from my mother, whom I fondly call a witch doctor).
While my son slept, I took my finger and did a sweep of the inside of his mouth. And, sure enough, my son had enlarged, inflamed gums with FOUR molars poking out, two on top and the other two at the bottom! The entire time my son ran a fever I kept telling my husband that it could be that our baby was teething. But we quickly dismissed it because of what other people said.
I texted my son’s pediatrician, and she confirmed that his molars could be the reason for the fever. I let the next 24 hours pass. Just after my son's first two doses of paracetamol, his temperature was cooler, and he was back to his usual old self again. I never felt such relief in my life.
I was grateful for the lessons I learned here. First, ALWAYS travel with an EXTENSIVE medical kit for your baby. Fill it with anything you could need EVEN if you’re anti-meds!
Second, always listen to your gut feeling, moms. I am not saying ignore medical professionals. But you know your child best. So try to stay calm so you can clearly think as you gauge what the doctors are saying, and listen to what your instinct is telling you. As you trust what doctors tell you, learn to trust yourself to make the right decisions, whether that means saying yes to what a doctor says or seeking another opinion.
A former beauty queen, Rene Rose Rodrigo is a US-certified holistic nutrition coach who is now living and working in the Philippines. Mom to 18-month-old Luca, she shares her lifestyle while discovering her roots at her blog Eurasian Rose.
Editor's note: This essay is a firsthand experience by the author, a nutrition coach. It should not be taken as medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion or treatment. It is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment. Never disregard medical or professional advice, or delay seeking it. If you have a medical emergency, call a doctor immediately.