You may have caught wind on Twitter or Facebook that, last week, my oldest child was very sick. It all started on a Sunday night when he mentioned a sore throat before going to bed. Being the sort of parent I am, I told him to take a cool drink of water and get some sleep– I’d check in the morning.
And then I mumbled, “uh oh” to my husband.
I knew strep and flu were running rampant through our school. I also knew I wasn’t going to do anything to stop it at 8pm on a Sunday.
He woke the next day with a fever and, ultimately, a 103+ fever raged on in his little body for a full week. By the time we hit day five– that Friday– I made the decision to call the doctor. With the weekend upon us, I just wanted to cross all Ts.
A. is fine, now. We did see the doctor and he was awesome to work with. He and I were able to rule some things out and make some good choices together, I believe. At the end of the day, our son got better without any invasive tests or needless antibiotics.
No matter what your medical philosophy, I truly do believe that there are some important steps you can take as the parent to ensure the best “doctor” experience. Many of these are things I’ve gotten better at as the years have worn on. Some are probably just part of my personality.
I’ve no doubt done oodles of things wrong over the years, but here are five things the doctor told me I did right:
I did not panic.
There is a LOT of panic in the air these days. You can hardly see a news report without being inundated with “FLU EPIDEMIC” fears. Schools are seeing record numbers of absences (side-note: thank you for keeping your sick kids home) and everyone knows tons of people knocked down by illness.
Still, panic accomplishes nothing. Staying calm and logical is far more likely to help you take care of business and get everyone on a path to healing.
I trusted my instincts.
All around me, people suggested it must be strep. Or flu. Especially flu.
I know my child. And I’m smart enough to look for certain signs. I checked his throat. I made sure there were no body aches. I watched his behavior. I said from that Monday afternoon, “I really think this is going to turn out to be a cold.”
I ended up being right. A nasty, nasty cold virus, but a cold, nonetheless. Antibiotics or anti-virals were not needed.
Our pediatrician was impressed that I stuck with my gut and didn’t succumb to the general (scary) consensus around me. He told me that parents’ instincts are fantastic– especially if they “exercise” them by paying attention to their guts more frequently. Interesting, eh? (And also pretty cool for a doctor to admit.)
I logged everything.
A. ratted me out on this one. “My mom writes down my temperature every time she takes it. She even writes down if she gives me Tylenol.”
It’s true. I do.
“Your mom is smart,” the doctor replied, “because she knows I’m going to ask her questions and she has three children and that’s a lot to remember.”
I don’t know how smart I am, but I know it only makes sense to jot it down. It takes two seconds to get it on paper and it will save you all kinds of mental stress later on.
I didn’t apologize for or defend our choice.
“Has he had a flu shot?” the doctor asked.
“No,” I replied.
And, seriously, that was it. He didn’t question me. I didn’t launch into a huge speech on why we made that decision. Mutual respect was shown and, I have to believe, that’s the most efficient and reasonable way to get things done.
I let his body work.
This pediatrician is part of a large practice. Honestly, at least 95% of parents I meet in this town take their kids there. Suffice it to say, they deal with all different parent personality types. I think that if I had rushed in, wanting tests done immediately, just so I’d have answers, he’d probably have complied. (Though, in reality, if that were my personality, I probably wouldn’t have waited so long to take him in, but I digress…)
Our doctor realized I was a big advocate of letting the body do its job. Did I treat A’s fever to bring him enough comfort to sleep? You betcha. That’s how I roll. But I wasn’t overly eager to do a ton of tests when my gut told me he had a bad cold. I wasn’t seeking medications when I truly believed his body was doing what it was supposed to.
During our final phone conversation (because he kept in touch through the weekend), the doctor told me that he was impressed with how I washed the pillowcases in hot water, let fresh freezing air blow through the rooms for a few minutes each day, and treated A. just enough to keep him comfortable. “Our bodies are amazing,” he insisted, “and strong, healthy children can fight off most viruses with minimal intervention on our part.”
So there you go.
Am I “anti-doctor”?
I’m also not “anti-medicine.”
But I am grateful to have a doctor who works with us.
I still have a lot to learn in terms of doing things right. But at least I have a few things I’ve managed to pick up over the years to guide my overall Dr. Mom philosophy.