This post… It has been writing itself for well over a week now… But life gets busy; time slips.
And no one knows better what a busy life is than a parent with a frighteningly sick child….
When your child looks at you with that fevered gaze… The glassy eyes that are never quite clear… And cries… Cries about the pain… Cries begging you to make it stop… To make it better…. Cries because they’re hot, they’re cold, they hurt, they’re uncomfortable…. Cries because it’s the only thing they can do…
And the fear… You try to cover the fear that you carry in your heart so they don’t see it… So that your fear doesn’t affect them…
You do everything: Change their bedding… Change their clothes… Cool cloths, warm cloths… More blankets, less blankets… Hot water bottle, ice chips…
And the entire time you’re feeding them Advil and Tylenol… And watching desperately as the numbers continue to climb on the thermometer….
And you try to not lose your shit and join them in the crying because, really, where would that land everybody? What good would that do anyone?
So you put on your brave face, pull on your mommy hat, run on next to no sleep…. And hide your fear.
Unfortunately this illness followed too closely behind the whole appendix scare… She still remembers that… She still remembers the needles… She still remembers her very kind nurses and doctors…. And she still remembers the needles….
So every time I would mention the doctor:
“NO MOMMY NO. NO NEEDLES. I don’t want to see Travis and his needles and the needles and NO MOMMY NO!”
“Okay dude… Calm down. We’ll stay home.”
Well, then one day I talked her into a clinic. “Not the hospital dude. Just a clinic okay? No needles.”
Off we go.
Unfortunately the doctor was a fucking ignorant idiot. She didn’t listen to a word I said. Did not listen to the case history. DID NOT LISTEN.
Two days later; back again. For continuity of care, I thought the same clinic, the same doctor would be the best option. Again, she didn’t listen.
Now what occurred beyond that is not her fault… Not at all.. But dammit, you’re a doctor. When a patient comes in with a case history as complete as what I handed her, dammit, LISTEN!!!
And I have to keep reminding myself that even if she had listened, even if she had read everything, even if she had given a goodgoddamn for even one second, what happened next still would likely have happened.
But if she had listened, I would have been left feeling like I had a compassionate, caring doctor in my corner and not an ignorant idiot who just didn’t give a shit.
Long story short, she wrote a prescription. Great. Okay. Wee will get well.
No. Wrong answer.
She got sicker. So. Much. Sicker.
A few days later:
“Dude, you’re not getting well. You’re getting worse.”
“I know mommy.”
“We need to go to the hospital.”
“No mommy. I won’t go. I won’t. Travis is there. He has needles!”
“Okay dude, I’m gonna make you a deal okay?”
“We have a good pharmacist at our drug store. We’re gonna go talk to him. He’ll listen. If he says we need to see another doctor, we will go to St. Joe’s. Not to where Travis works. This is the nice hospital where they didn’t give you needles. Okay?”
“Okay mommy. Deal.”
Pharmacist takes one look at her; Go now. Don’t wait. She’s very sick.
Off we go. She kept her word… The pharmacist said so she went with no fuss.
We get to St. Joe’s and initially, we are told it’ll be about an hour and a half to see the doctor. They quickly changed their tune when they heard the case history and took her temperature. We were in within an hour.
Now, I have to say, yes, we got fast-tracked. Yes we did. And yes, the waiting room was full of people who were all waiting. And some were quietly and patiently waiting… While others were complaining about the wait. Honestly people, I understand your frustration but, really, you’re dealing with some of the best damn doctors and medical students out there… Be grateful that at the end of your wait, you have some of the best damn care out there.
So, in we go. We get a bed. We get students. We get nurses. She gets pumped full of so much Tylenol and Advil I don’t think she’s too awful aware of what’s going on. But they get that temperature under control. Now, time to find the cause.
That’s when the shit hits the fan.
Well let me tell you how quickly she went from the happy child to the screaming demon that crawled straight from the depths of hell to tear the roof off of that hospital and make everyone pay for the existence of needles.
I think that transformation took less than half a second.
It was a shit show.
The doctor, amazing man, did not want to traumatize her any more… So he ran all other tests and then arranged a direct transfer over to the Children’s Hospital where they would use special techniques to calm her and get the blood he needed.
Fortunately that transfer never had to happen because all of the other tests he ran came back positive for what he suspected.
Antibiotic resistant bacterial pneumonia.
YAY!!! *insert sarcasm*
He considered keeping the transfer going. He said he’s seen this quite a bit the past while in children Wee’s age and that’s why he knew what to look for and what tests to run. He said he was worried for her because she was going to get much sicker before she got better. He also looked at me and said he was worried for me. He asked how much I was sleeping. He asked if I was eating.
He didn’t have to ask; he knew the answers.
His concern was not just for her; it was for me also. He asked if I would stay with her at the hospital if he transferred her and admitted her. I told him hell would freeze before I left her. He told me to take her home and tuck us both in bed and sleep. He told me I needed sleep and there was no way I would get sleep on those hospital cots. He told me what to look for, he told me what to do, he set up notations on our phone number so that 911 would know what was going on if I called, he made sure her chart was at the Children’s Hospital, he wrote a prescription, and he sent us home with a ‘follow up with me this day, this time. I know it’s early but it’s either this way or I admit her’.
“No, this is fine. We’ll be there. Thank you. Thank you so much for helping my daughter.”
And I shook his hand.
And Wee gave everyone hugs and waves as she left…
And that there, that made their day.
You could see how the simple handshake, the thank you… And the smiles and love from a little girl who was sicker than all get-out made their day.
And that was an important thing for my Wee to see; a very important lesson for her to learn.
When someone helps you, even if it isn’t pleasant… Say thank you… Let them know you appreciate them.
Two days later, when we saw the doctor at oh-fucking-stupid-o’clock in the morning at the Children’s Hospital, she was already a new child; already a million times better.
He was happy.
I was happy.
Wee was happy.
She gave him a hug. She said she was sorry for screaming at him about the needles. She said thank you.
I shook his hand. I said thank you.
I learned a lesson in all of this as well. A very valuable one……
If we can’t get in to see our regular doctor, trust the hospitals; trust the Urgent Care Clinic at St. Joe’s; that’s what they’re there for.
My child…. She is definitely my child…. She can take a simple illness and turn it into some new and exciting plague and let it grow and mutate… If she is sick enough to require a doctor’s care and she can’t see her doctor, take her to the Urgent Care; at least there, you know they give a shit; they’ll listen.
The wait may be long… The doctors and nurses may be over-worked… But they give a shit.
And when your child is sick, care and compassion; it’s priceless.