I’ve written in Purple Heart about how I actually got sicker than a three legged dog with measles. I caught Rheumatic Fever after playing rugby for my second fifteenth team over a three week period in the rain. We practised in the rain, trained in the rain and then walked, the heck home in rain after totally exhausting ourselves like some maniac mini All Black wanna-bes.
Then after going down on the try line one weekend, I was taken to the doctor who misdiagnosed me.
Of course I hated being misdiagnosed, my life would have been vastly different if the doctor had known what he was doing but the fact still remains that shit like this is still happening in New Zealand!
Last year, I took two weeks off to visit the Bay of Islands and the KKK area (Kawakawa, Kaitaia & KeriKeri) as I like to tell folks. It’s an area that right now has a huge problem. So many of the region’s little ones are getting Rheumatic Fever that you would think nothing is being done about it. Talk to some of the district nurses as I did and you will hear they’re over worked and undermanned, not to mention also underfunded!
You would be hard pressed to get a Doctor to actually ‘swab’ your child to test for Rheumatic Fever (RF). I heard so many stories. I met mothers in day care centres and children in primary schools who had been sick and were not being swabbed despite having the symptoms of Rheumatic Fever. WTF !? Are you kidding me or what!??
One of the reasons I’m writing about this now is because tonight some friends travelled down to Auckland with their ill child who has a sore throat. The doctor gave her Panadol and suggested she rest at home for the week. Well that’s all bloody brilliant but what about a SWAB to see if her sore joints and sore throat are the early stages of RF? Either they don’t know what the fffing hell they’re doing or they don’t care. Either way its beyond @#!%ing frustrating! It’s criminal! Sending a sick kid home to just REST UP is not on when the rates of Rheumatic Fever are climbing at an alarming pace. It’s a third world disease that is CURABLE and DETECTABLE!
Here are the symptoms (please memorise them):
- Your child will generally feel tired
- Sometimes there may be small “painless’ lumbs around the wrists, knees, elbows – this is called Aschoff bodies (Subcutaneous skin nodules)
- They have a rash. These are described as ‘snake like wavy’ in appearance
- They have a fever
- There is a shortness of breath
- Sore major joints: knees, ankles, shoulders, elbows – these can sometimes be red hot to touch
Now if your child is ill and has more than a few of these complaints and the doctor tells you to take her home and REST UP with some Panadol. I want you to slowly lean forward and grab him or her by their collar and plant the biggest punch you can on their noggin!
Then get a second opinion!
It is so damn sad that many young people, barely out of their teens are now having to live a compromised life like I did. If you need reminding what Rheumatic Fever can do, remember: 6 open heart surgeries, died twice, spent 4.5 years in hospital and zero to F-all schooling. This is not to mention the on-going healthcare costs to New Zealand and myself. Prevention is far less expensive than the alternative, both emotionally and financially. So, ask the Doctor to do the swab!