Wednesday, 9 January 2013

When teeth can kill

Image from the fantastic blog Weirdness And Cake
I am sharing this tale so that you might know what I have learnt in the last couple of days, which is: teeth they can be killers.

Yesterday my 14-year-old son Sam woke me saying the tooth that had been niggling him over Christmas had got worse and he had experienced fever during the night. He had a normal temperature at the time but as his mouth still hurt, off we went to the dentist who found a small but deep hole and duly filled it. The dentist noticed some swelling around the tooth so he also gave Sam antibiotics. After the visit to the dentist Sam said he felt fine and went to school despite my advice, which was to take the day off and let the antibiotics start to take effect.

I then went to work and after coming out of a really positive meeting about the Transition Institute with a super chap from the Cabinet Office, my eldest son, Joe, rang to say Sam had come home, somehow, and he seemed unable to stand. As I was too far away I rang a good friend and neighbour (thanks Julie) who took him straight to the doctor. Thirty minutes later Julie rang to tell me the doctor had called an ambulance as she suspected Sam had meningitis.

I arrived at the surgery just in time to travel with Sam in the ambulance where I could do nothing but watch him shake violently and slip in and out of consciousness. You know it's serious when you arrive to a busy A&E and a team is waiting for you in the car park. The fantastic staff at Kingston Hospital took his temperature and found it was an improbable 40.7ยบC so they began treatment for meningitis even though they couldn't find a rash. Over the next 18 hours both in A&E and later in the children's ward, Sam has been tested for everything. It turns out he did not have meningitis, thank God, but yes, you guessed it, the only possible cause they could find was his tooth.

It seems that somehow the tooth had caused a massive infection and leaving it niggling away over Christmas was an even bigger mistake than failing to ask someone to feed the fish when we were away.

So now you know: if you have a toothache go straight to the dentist, no messing about, do not pass go, do not collect £200.

PS Sam is much better, for which I am more grateful than I can say.

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