“I’m feeling a little bit itchy,” said only son, squirming, on Thursday night. A quick look at his torso revealed huge welts across his entire body. His body was on fire. “Eurghh,” said daugher three. “Is it catching?” as she moved hastily away.

A Google search later suggested it may be hives, likely to have been brought on by an allergic reaction to something. We’d been swimming earlier, but we go swimming a lot. Daughter one had a mild stomach bug. Only son is always picking up the kittens. There were numerous possible causes. I gave only son a shower in case it was chlorine remnants [though he had a shower at the pool] and some Piriton. The welts went down. So far so good. He woke up early itching again. The welts were back. More Piriton. The BMA guide to children’s health suggested that it could last a couple of days and only to contact the doctor if certain symptoms appeared. However, by Friday night the Piriton effect had not only worn off early, but appeared to have stopped working at all. “It’s sooo itchy,” said only son.

I rang 111. Soon after a doctor rang back. It was probably not serious, he said, but we needed to get to A & E to get some steroids if the Piriton wasn’t working. Friday night at A & E. Past experiences suggested a long wait, scratching. It was already around 10.30pm. My partner decided we would go together. It would be a bit like a date night, but with added drama, itching and only son. Despite warnings, daughter three decided she was coming too. She doesn’t like to miss out on an outing.

We arrived at the hospital and since my last visit the children’s A & E has been separated out from the general one. Perhaps this would mean a shorter wait? There were about six other parent/child groupings there. Only son was triaged. He lifted his shirt. All but around two of the welts had gone down. The Piriton had finally kicked in two hours later. We felt a bit like frauds, but I was worried they would come back before the next Piriton shot was due as it had done earlier on Friday.

We were told to wait to see the doctor. Only son seemed very perky, the picture of health. He started playing a giant snakes and ladder game with another patient. Only son won around five games in a row and was in celebratory mood. Things got slightly boisterous. The girl’s mum was trying to calm things down. “She’s got ADHD,” she said. We encouraged them to start playing baking with the lego.

By just after midnight only son was starting to flag and itch. I wasn’t sure if this was a good or bad thing. He turned down requests to read or be read Awful Auntie. Daughter three was looking at her phone in despair, deeply regretting her decision to come. We played a game of 20 questions. We chatted about Aretha Franklin and her legacy, how her music moved people and how that is a massive sign of hope for the future [I’d read an article about teenagers and anxiety about the future].

The air conditioning in A & E was on, which helped keep only son’s body cool, but I had only got a summer dress and sandals on. At around 1.30am only son conked out on top of me, which was slightly warming. Twenty minutes later we were called to see the doctor. Only son is not a good waker upper, particularly in the middle of the night. He groaned and moaned, but by around 2.45 we had the steroid tablets and were discharged. We arrived home at 3am.

Only son went to sleep immediately. At 6am he was up scratching. The welts had returned. He wasn’t due the next Piriton dose for two hours. I decided to start the steroids. It did say morning time which is fairly vague. Only son is not very good at taking medicine. Even Piriton and Calpol are described as “spicy”. He was having difficulty with the tablets and one of them melted a bit. “Yuck, it tastes horrible,” he said, burping immediately after. We went upstairs. Only son threw up the entire contents of his stomach on the bathroom floor. Oh dear. I cooled his burning body down and got him back to bed. He fell asleep instantly. The welts seemed to have disappeared. Some of the steroids must have got into his system. The next day he was fine, but he woke up early on Sunday covered head to toe in welts.

All beneficial sleep vestiges of the summer holiday have now worn off entirely.

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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