Tuesday, October 28, 2014

When the Doctor Listens

Alyssa has had the sniffles for about four days. Olivia told me on Sunday evening that her ear hurt. I noted the date just in case we ended up at the doctor later in the week and I had to report when her symptoms started.

When I got home last night, I found Olivia curled in the recliner, a blanket covering her. I kissed her forehead and found it hot to the touch. Alyssa insisted on taking O’s temperature and reported that it was 101.2.

I went out to find Tom, who was on scaffolding with her brother, putting siding on our detached garage. Yeah.

I told him I was taking O to Urgent Care. He asked why. I explained her fever, her sniffles, her ear pain from the night before.

I told him, “I can either take her today or you can bring her in on Wednesday afternoon when she’s suddenly worse.”

He nodded that taking her to the doctor right then was the right decision.

I packed Olivia and Alyssa up, made a stop at my mom’s to drop Alyssa off (the power was out at our house, she would have been stuck inside a dark house while Tom worked outside) and then O and I made our way to Urgent Care.

After a 45 minute wait in the waiting room and a half hour wait in the examination room, the doctor finally came in to look at her.

She examined O’s ears, listened to her heart and lungs and then let me talk a little bit about O’s history.

She finally said, “If this were a typical child, I’d probably tell you she’s got a virus and send you on your way. But you know her better than anyone and if you think she’s just going to keep getting worse, I’ll write you a prescription for an antibiotic. You can wait a few days to start giving her the medicine to see if she kicks this herself but from your description, that’s not going to happen.”

The clouds parted and the angels sang as the miracle of a medical doctor actually listening to a parent, taking that parent’s knowledge of her child into account and admitting that she might not know that child as well as the parent does sank in.

I was amazed that she was so willing to take Olivia’s history into account instead of just looking at her clear ears, her deep, non-raspy breaths and her steady heartbeat. She acknowledged that we’d been down this road before and my knowledge of my child and her health trumped the symptoms of the moment.

There are doctors out there who care about the people they’re seeing. We met one when Olivia was two and a half and we met another last night. I was so, so grateful to this doctor who looked at my child and saw not just another number to get in and out the door. She saw a little girl who has a mom who knows her very well. She saw a child with a rare syndrome (this doctor had never before seen a person with 5p- syndrome) and acknowledged that perhaps, as the mother of this child, I just might actually know more about her and her syndrome than the doctor herself did, since I live with Olivia and how 5p- affects her.

I gratefully took my child and that prescription home. I didn’t fill it last night. I decided to go ahead and wait.

This morning, Olivia spent the day with her Gram and I took her prescription to the pharmacy. Her fever was lower this morning, but still there. She was full of pep and energy but when she breathed near me, I could smell the sickness in her. We’re starting the antibiotics this evening.

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