The Pediatrician in Me

Sometimes it really pays to be a pediatrician as well as a mother.  Take yesterday afternoon for example.  At precisely 3:51pm, Micah looked at me and said “this ear really hurts.” (“Darn!” was my first thought – “oh, honey” were my first words.)  Now, there are very few lessons from my residency training program that I remember verbatim, but I do remember a senior doctor telling me, “If a child older than 4 says their ear hurts, it’s likely to mean something real.”  So I went to the “medicine bag” and pulled out my otoscope (very handy to be a pediatrician), smiled happily that the battery was charged enough that the light turned on, and looked in Micah’s ear.  Yep, that eardrum was screaming red.  So, I thought through the options….see a doc?  Hmm, pediatrician’s office is closed…could go to the hospital’s urgicare satellite clinic….seems like a pain because it would take the rest of the afternoon (and I’m planning on cooking up some yummy Thai food!)….hmmm, Target pharmacy is open until 5…. Picked up the phone ….. “Hi, this is Dr. Lynne…”

And that is pretty much where the limit of me treating my own kids ends (my sister will vouch for that – I don’t even treat her kids…..and no one else in the family either!).  I will do ear infections on the weekend.  That’s it.  Anything else – “go see a doctor.”

You see, I can’t be objective when it comes to my kids.  This winter Micah fell in basketball and naturally cried for a bit afterwards…but was soon back in the game.  The next day (yes, after paying no attention to his hand for well over 30 hours) I noticed that his right thumb was swollen 3 times its normal size and was black and blue.  It looked ugly.  It was Sunday evening.  Seth was to have minor outpatient surgery on Tuesday.  I had a day to figure out what to do.  So, I spent most of Monday driving him around wondering how best to get the thumb evaluated.  His pediatric office?  The emergency room (over 3 hour wait time per some inside sources)? Does it need anything at all?  What if I ignore it and then it’s actually broken and we go 2 more days?!?  We ended up at the hospital’s urgicare center where he was fitted with a very nice little splint…more to help him feel better, the doc said (but I knew it was actually more to help me feel better).

I get stuck in wanting to do everything I possibly can to take care of the kids as well as I can.  But that’s in the midst of not knowing sometimes what the best care is for them.  And believe me, this is only mild stuff we’ve been dealing with.  A little asthma.  A little ear infection.  Colds.  Fevers.  Nothing serious – no real emergency room visits (though I was sure Noah was trying absolutely positively EVERYTHING he could to require an ER visit before he turned two – “how about a few stitches, Mom??” – and I give myself full and unending credit for thwarting that plan!) and no hospital stays.  I am very thankful.  Because I have decided that I will either overreact with the kids (oh yeah, it’s clear, that’s one of those can’t-catch-your-breath, have-10-seizures, fall-over-and-get-a-concussion, lose-a-kidney, break-the-thumb and end up in the hospital kinds of situations) or completely under-react (oh, just rub it!).  There’s no middle ground.

Which is why, unless it’s a weekend evening and they are complaining that their ear hurts…I drag my kids to go see a doctor every time.  (Though I will confess to being a tad late on this last guy’s well child check-up….um, 15 month visit?…. or 16 months ….who’s counting?!?!)

Anyone else have this trouble of under- or over-reacting??