Adelaide mother Bec was told she was “overreacting” when she took 13-month-old Archie to hospital with a pale pale face. red rash on his back and a snot nose.
After waiting eight hours in Emergency, she was fired and told to give her son Panadol.
The next morning Archie’s body had swollen and the pale rash had turned into raised purple spots that stretched across his face and limbs.
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He screamed in pain.
“He looked like he had been beaten up,” says Bec 7Life, explaining that she ran Archie back to the hospital.
“I immediately panicked — I thought it was meningococcus.”
Archie was immediately surrounded by medical personnel and 24 hours later they gave a diagnosis.
The little boy had acute hemorrhagic edema from childhood – a rare but treatable disease characterized by painful large raised skin lesions and swelling.
The mother of three is grateful that she trusted her gut feeling and continued to seek medical help for her son.
“I just didn’t feel good about the result,” says Bec.
“I am so grateful that I trusted my mother’s intuition. If I had been a mother for the first time, I might have thought I was just acting dramatic.”
Trust your gut
Prior to his diagnosis, Archie had been suffering from a blocked airway for over a month.
For three weeks in a row, Bec had taken him to the doctor — and each time she was told Archie had a “cold.”
“I started to think maybe I was just being too careful,” Bec says.
“He didn’t have a fever, he was coughing a little and had a runny nose.”
At her third GP visit, the doctor prescribed antibiotics.
But a few days later, Bec noticed a strange rash starting to appear on her son’s back.
“He had these little bright red spots on him, like he’d bumped into something and had a reaction,” she says.
“I wasn’t too concerned, but I thought I’d keep an eye on it.”
The next day, the rash began to spread to other parts of his body.
Bec called the GP and was told this is common in babies recovering from a virus.
But by the next morning, the rash had turned an angry shade of red — and distinct spots had begun to appear all over the little boy’s body.
“It was now on his face and the insides of his legs near his diaper,” says Bec, who describes it as a maze of stuffed mosquito bites.
Because Archie was also showing signs of discomfort, Bec called the doctor again – who advised her to go to the hospital.
“I started to worry now,” she says.
Told not to worry
After attending Emergency, where the mother waited eight hours to be seen, Archie was diagnosed with roseola infantum – a common viral rash.
Bec was given topical cream and told her son to give pain medication.
A nurse would come by the next day for a follow-up visit, the mother was assured.
That night, Bec tried to calm her boy down.
“It clearly irritated him, he was whinying more than usual,” she says.
And by morning the result had changed again.
“He barely slept, his body was so swollen,” says Bec.
“It looked like he had been beaten – it was like purple bruises all over his body.
“It was all over his stomach and face and he was screaming in pain.”
His ankles were so swollen that Archie couldn’t bear the weight—in fact, he was paralyzed from the pain.
“He would scream if we picked him up, but then scream if we sat him down,” says Bec.
“I didn’t know what to do.”
At this stage, Bec and her husband Dean were wondering if their son had meningococcus — a deadly bacterial infection.
When the nurse arrived at the house for the promised follow-up visit, she rekindled Bec’s worst nightmare.
“The nurse looked at him and said, ‘I’m not touching him, I think he has meningococcus,'” says Bec.
“I just burst into tears.”
Race to the hospital
Archie was taken to the hospital where he was immediately admitted.
Doctors began to run tests and take pictures — as the rash developed before their eyes.
“IV fluids, tests, creams, they’ve tried everything,” Bec says.
“So many doctors came, including interns, and they kept saying they’d never seen anything like it.
“I thought he was going to die.”
The bruise-like rash deepened and Bec says Archie’s skin looked like a punching bag.
While she and Dean waited for the test results, attention turned to the parents’ possible actions towards their son.
“They started asking us if we’d ever done anything to him,” Bec says of the awkward questioning.
“It was terrible… we were just doing our best to help our child, who was clearly in so much pain.
“I understand they had to ask us because that’s exactly what it looked like.”
Tests revealed Archie had a rare skin disease that affects children under the age of two, childhood acute hemorrhagic edema.
The disease is so rare that specialists aren’t sure what causes it.
But in Archie’s case, they think it may have something to do with the antibiotics he was given for his cold.
After 48 hours of applying a prescription cream, Archie was discharged — and the rash cleared up within four days.
The toddler has made a full recovery.
Doctors have warned the mother that the condition could flare up again, but say it should go away completely as he gets older.
“If you look at him now, you wouldn’t know this happened to him,” Bec says.
Bec now encourages other parents to seek medical advice if a condition appears to be persisting and if they have genuine concerns.
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