Avoiding the Doctor

November 9, 2010

I’ve been so good in not doctoring my own kids. But once we (and my son) paid for the decision to avoid seeing the doctor right away.

I’ve been so good in not doctoring my own kids. My daughter developed a sore throat a couple weeks ago. I did a quick exam: no fever, no swollen lymph nodes, no tonsillar exudate, and she was coughing. Highly unlikely to be strep. I sent her back to school the next day.

Five days later, she was still complaining of a sore throat. Not trusting myself as her “doctor” any longer, I took her in. She did not have strep throat. I was advised to keep doing what we had been doing.

A few days ago, she awoke complaining of ear pain. She never complains of ear pain. I felt her forehead (actually a reliable gauge of fever, as long as the mom is the one testing). No fever. My home otoscope broke a couple of illnesses back and I purposely didn’t replace it. I figured it would cut down on temptation to doctor my own kids if I couldn’t see in their ears. So, I made another doctor’s appointment. My husband, who brought her to the appointment, told me that the doctor said that her ear was a little red. That’s what I tell parents who are convinced their child has an ear infection when I am on the fence. The doctor started antibiotics.

This weekend, my son came home from Sunday school complaining of ear pain. He claimed it was because the other kids in his class were yelling in his ear. We gave him some Tylenol and he played happily for the next three and a half hours. Heading out on an errand with me, he started complaining that his ear was bothering him again. When I glanced back in the rearview mirror a few minutes later, he was crying from the pain. I turned around intending to drop him off at home with my husband and redosing him with Tylenol.

By the time I got home, my plan had changed and I decided to take him to the ER, it being a Sunday afternoon. I discussed it with my husband. We decided that the ER would be cruel and unusual punishment. Instead, we gave him some ibuprofen and he felt better within a few minutes. We decided to wait until the next day to bring him to the doctor.

We (and he) paid for that decision all night long. He was up a few times, crying from the ear pain. More ibuprofen along with animal crackers, a movie, and some tea with honey calmed him down. We made a doctor’s appointment first thing in the morning. Despite back-to-back doses of ibuprofen and Tylenol, he had a fever by the time we got to the doctor’s office.

The nurse practitioner hesitated a bit during her exam, not sure if his ear drum was ruptured. She invited me to take a look. Casting a glance at my husband, I picked up the proffered otoscope and gazed in my son’s canal. Wow, I thought, that is one of the worst ears I’ve ever seen. I pointed out to the nurse practitioner where the ear drum was ruptured and nodded at her recommendation for antibiotics. When I got home, I purchased a new otoscope on Amazon.