5 Things the Doctor Said I Did Right

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”?


Um, no.


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. :)

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12 comments to 5 Things the Doctor Said I Did Right

  • mlearley

    I’m still in the learning process with doctor’s visits. As you know, Katelyn our 14 month old was sick last week too. She had the 104 temp with no other symptoms that we could see other than extreme fussiness (which is SO not my happy go lucky baby). Hers started Sunday night too and by Monday afternoon, I got concerned b/c her breathing sounded a little funny but no runny nose or coughing. So being a semi-panicy mommy, I took her to the doctor’s. They were confused too that she had no other symptoms but her throat did look red to them, so they did a strep throat test. She had been refusing to eat or even drink that much, so it made sense to me that it could be strep. Nope, came back clean so the doctor was worried that it was a UTI even thought they are rare in babies. She told me that if Katelyn’s fever was still around on Tuesday with no new symptoms that she wanted to do bloodwork to rule out the UTI. Well she woke at 4am with the 104 fever and when she woke for good at 6:30 (soaking wet) we didn’t notice anything else wrong with her. However, by 11 when the doctor called her temp was normal (Monday even on Motrin it never got below 100) but she still wanted to send us for the bloodwork since Katelyn still wasn’t drinking. Looking back I should’ve pushed it off for another day since her waking at 6:30 completely soaked made me think her fever broke. I did take her and the results came back that she just had a nasty virus (maybe the same as your son). Next time, I will be giving it a few more days like you did before freaking out. I think I panic more with the baby than I do our oldest, since she can tell me what’s wrong. We had no idea if Katelyn had body pains, headache, etc so we could only base our “fears” on what we saw.

    • Oh, I definitely think it’s scarier when not-yet-verbal children fall ill because you can’t ask them anything. There’s also certainly a difference between a baby and a solid 7yo. I’m so glad that it wound up being something her body was able to fight off on its own!

    • Celine

      I am a big wait and see mama. I really think you did the right thing given that your child was refusing to drink much. Food is one thing but it is easy for little ones to get dehydrated quickly especially with a high fever.

  • Celine

    I am big on waiting things out and not going into a panic. I sometimes worry that I wait to long to call the Dr.

    I also tend to just let things run their course with the least amount of intervention. It is helpful to know what signs and symptoms to be most concerned about. A child with a 99 degree fever who is lethargic and not wanting to eat and drink is much more concerning then a child with a 103 degree fever who is drinking and feels well enough to play. Also remembering your child’s past medical history is important as it can indicate what and when to be concerned.

    • Agreed. The “not drinking” thing is a big red flag for me, too. Especially if it progresses to “will not accept popsicles.” ;) I think it’s also important to realize that, technically, temperatures in the 99s or even 100s are not medically considered “fevers” and are very, VERY rarely cause for any kind of alarm.

  • Susan

    That is such a good idea to log temperatures and medicine when you give it. You would think with a preemie, I would know better…but honestly, my son has been so healthy for the last 4-5 years, I haven’t had to worry about colds, flus or fevers. Just curious, why don’t you do flu shots? My son got his first flu shots while he was still in the NICU and we’ve been continuing to give them every year like clockwork. It seems to be working since he doesn’t get sick. He is a hard core athlete. Maybe all the exercise beats the sickness out of him?

    • I’m willing to bet all that exercise sure doesn’t hurt! :) As far as flu shots go, thus far, we have chosen to do without them as a family. I believe it’s a matter of weighing risks/rewards and each family must decide what works best. Because we are all strong, healthy individuals, we feel comfortable in forgoing the flu shot. While not at ALL anti-vaccine, I must admit I’m not 100% comfortable with flu shots. That’s just me, though. I have never and will never judge someone for arriving at a different conclusion.

  • I am with you! The pediatrician jokes about how thin our boys’ charts are when we go in for well check/vaccine updates. The body is amazing!

  • I am generally not panicky, but invariably my MIL finds out from Hubby. Even though she is a nurse she is immediately off the deep end (ex. upper back pain must = heart infection). SO she gets me a little anxiety riddled that I’m making a poor choice to wait. My experience is that when I call they say Oh yes he needs to be seen, then without even doing anything they say rest and fluids. I feel like duh, we’re doing that already and you could’ve reinforced on the phone! GRR….Although we have a new pediatrician now so we’ll see how she rolls. 1st appt Feb 5th for 6 year old well child AND birth appointment. Local peds don’t go to the hospital anymore…weird.

  • Lori

    I never thought about logging things, definately will start doing that, Thanks! With my first child, now 3, I always did the wait and see approach, and we never went to the dr. My 2nd one is 7 months old and was 10 week early preemie, so I’m more cautious with her. At 5 months she was a little sick, and I suspected it was just a cold, but just to be safe I took her to the dr. She didn’t like how the lungs sounded so we did x-rays and all was clear. She had a bad cold was all, and immediately I knew we shouldn’t have gone because thats what I thought she had anyway. I love my doctor because she will not intervene with medication unless necessary. I think finding the right dr is so important.

  • [...] already told you all that at least 95% of our town uses the same pediatrician practice– so I can’t really claim that I did anything special, there. I will say that I’ve [...]

  • Stop the madness!!!!!!! That’s what I’ve wanted to yell the last month with this whole flu “epidemic.” Yes, there’s a lot of it around. But guess what? We have INSTANT access to all sorts of info, valid and otherwise, and I really think THAT is what is sending people off the deep end. 50 years ago you only knew if your family and your neighbors were sick.

    Anyway, right there with ya. We got through a few semi-scary days with the 2yo a couple weeks ago. All is well now. (And if things turned further south, I would have taken him in. ;) )

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