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Fostering Alice – Gatekeeping

Fulltime Foster Carer - Harriet author of: A Less Ordinary Family

Fostering Alice – Gatekeeping

Alice – Fostering Blog


Always expect the unexpected! Just when life seems to be on an even keel, the rug gets swept out from underneath. No sooner had the words ‘things seemed to have really settle down for Alice’ left my mouth – in fact the words were probably floating in the air somewhere above my head, when things took a turn for the worse. Suddenly out of nowhere her behaviour deteriorated. She became argumentative and downright rude. Nothing was good enough for her and she descended into meltdown after meltdown. Although we have become quite used to her erratic behaviour, something didn’t seem quite right.

After a day of it being quite unbearable, I had a feeling something else might be going on behind the scenes. I wasn’t aware of anything that had happened at school (and usually school are very good at keeping me in the loop of any concerns!) or anything at home that would cause this behaviour, so I wondered about whether there was something physically going on. I checked her temperature and sure enough it had rocketed. I then checked a sample of her urine and sure enough there were indicators to say she had an infection.

My default position is to feel guilty that I didn’t spot this sooner. It is difficult when you have a child who is unable to tell you when she feels uncomfortable or is in pain. Her behaviour is often the only indicator – and that is not an exact science – because often her behaviour is so poor at the best of times.

I now have the challenge of getting the right antibiotics for her. First, I have to get through the doctor’s receptionist. She is the gate keeper – and I have to get her on side quickly. When you have a child with complex needs you cannot wait another day to see a doctor – you need to get the antibiotics as soon as possible. Fortunately, I got the ‘more understanding’ receptionist. And once I’d mention the magic words ‘looked after child’ ‘complex care’ ‘disabled’ and ‘hydrocephalus and shunt’ – she was given an appointment. I hate to feel like I’m playing a bit of a game – but I have learnt the hard way that if I don’t then you can be fobbed off for days – meanwhile you have a child who is getting more ill and whose behaviour only deteriorates further!!

The doctor was able to confirm my own diagnosis and prescribed a course of antibiotics. The next mission is to find a pharmacist who has it in stock!! This has often been a challenge. Fortunately, today, the local pharmacy has it in stock and we can get Alice her first dose straight away.

It was pretty incredible to see her mood change within a couple of hours – the power of antibiotics!!

A Less Ordinary Fostering Family Blog.

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