I have a complicated relationship with doctors when it comes to my kids.
It’s complicated in the sense that my instincts about my children’s health tend to be the opposite of “correct.” There are visits to the doctor when nothing is wrong, and visits are delayed when they are horribly ill. This is not intentional. No, this is all the result of thoughtful decision-making on my part, which makes the question of when to call the doctor all the more stressful for me.
Here’s what it looks like inside my head:
“Gosh! They seem really sick. Should I call the doctor?”
“No, you idiot. They’re just sick. Give them some Tylenol and turn on My Little Pony. They’ll be fine.”
“But I’m always wrong about this stuff. What if this is the time they have pneumonia and I am the asshole parent who says, ‘Oh, I just thought it was a regular cold! Aaaaaaaaaand now my kid is hospitalized.'”
“Ok. Instead you’ll be the parent who says, ‘Doctor, I am so worried about my little pumpkin. She’s been sneezing and coughing! HELP HER!'”
That’s what it’s like. Every time.
Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about.
When the kids were two, they would develop these ridiculous night time fevers — I’m talking 104, 106 degrees. I would bundle them up and drive to the ER, where their temperature would be a toasty 99. Fuckers.
- $300 for a band aid and Neosporin
We went to the garden store last summer and bought a small metal watering can for the kids to use in the garden. We let Ben hold it on the drive home, because, well, what’s the worst that could happen? He could stick his finger down the narrow spout and pull out a bloody mess? Oh yeah…that.
I saw blood and heard screaming, and the emergency flares in my head were lit. I made Mike pull over so I could ride in the backseat with Ben who I swore had cut his finger down to the bone. When the doctor saw us in the ER an hour or so later, she took one look and said, “Oh, okay. Yup. That’s a cut.” We were sent home with a band-aid and some Neosporin and a bill for $300.
I’m a jackass.
- I’m sure it’s nothing serious…
We were over at my in-laws last summer when Ben started playing around on their elliptical machine. I asked him to get down, and he obediently did — by stepping off the elliptical and onto an exercise ball. He came crashing down into their stack of hand weights and screamed for an uncommonly long time. We said, “He’s just scared. It was a big fall.” After all, he could still move his arm! Isn’t that THE sign that it isn’t broken? It must just be a really bad bruise!
Or, maybe he broke it.
That’s right. Five hours later when we were back at home eating dinner, I noticed that Ben had stopped using his left arm. Off to the ER we went, where we discovered that he had broken his arm near the shoulder.
“Hey, son. Sooooooooo…sorry about that time we didn’t know you had a broken bone for half the day, and couldn’t understand why you screamed whenever we picked you up. Bet that hurt like a sonofabitch, huh? Tell you what — you can have ‘the rough nurse’ put in my catheter when I’m at the nursing home. We’re square now, right?”
- And just last week…
Remember how I said that Megan had a double eye and ear infection? Yeah. I might have forgotten to mention that I totally sent her to school that morning. You’re welcome, fellow pre-school parents!
The day before she said she wasn’t feeling well, so I let her stay home. She then spent the whole day behaving completely normally and not the least bit sick. Feeling like a sucker, I told her she was going to school the next day. And she did. Till 11:00, when her teacher called me and said that Megan seemed very ill.
I picked her up, and noticed that her color looked a little off. She looked like a panda, but only around the eyes. And only if their eyes were pink. Luckily, one of my sisters is a physician who I can (and do) harass for free medical advice. I called her up and told her what I was seeing. She said, “I’d go to the doctor.”
This was excellent news, because now I had someone to blame in case the doctor came back and said, “Yeah…it’s called a ‘cold.’ What kind of doctor did you say your sister is?”
Well, off we went to the pediatrician. Needless to say, he took one look in her ears and delivered the infecto doble verdict. Then he said, “And you see all this goop in her eyes?”
Huh? This “what” in her “who?” No, I didn’t notice, because apparently I try not to look my children straight in the eyes if I can help it. It’s bad luck.
So now I don’t trust myself AT ALL to diagnose illness in my children. They’ll pretty much have to lay down and start singing “Tears in Heaven” before I’ll take them to the ER again. Or, maybe I’ll go the other way and we’ll be at the doctor a few times a week and everyone will think I have Munchausen By Proxy. Either way, it should continue to be a source of much confusion and many Google searches for years to come.