Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Considering the Source

Sometimes I think that people forget about the old adage: Consider the Source.

For example, I dabble in the stock market. And let me tell you, before I buy a stock that is recommended to me, I Consider The Source. My cousin, who has lost more money in the stock market than I have earned in my entire life? Probably not the best source. Warren Buffet? Definitely somebody who probably knows something I don’t.

If there is any one thing that I am an expert at, it is my kids. I know them very well, even the newest one. I can tell you pretty much immediately when something is wrong with any one of them, and I can even give you a general idea of what it might be. Call it a gift. Call it not having enough outside interests.

I took Bacon Bit (and two of his three older sisters) to the doctors office last week. Based on his behavior (screaming, pulling at ears, temperature, general ire) I thought he might be suffering his first ear infection (see, this is me displaying my uncanny knowledge of my kids’ inner workings). We couldn’t see his ‘real’ doctor on the same-day basis, so we saw ‘somebody in his practice.’

45 minutes in the waiting room (with one screaming infant and two hyper preschoolers) (and everybody else's sick kids, too). Hey, I’m not really complaining: I am, after all, calling them at 9:00 and crying into the phone that my baby’s siiiiiiiiiick and I wanna come in now, dammit!

35 minutes in the examining room with a screaming infant and two EXTREMELY hyperactive preschoolers who are about twenty minutes past being entertained by any of the stuff I’ve brought or any of the assorted magazines / books in the office – they wanna play with the doctor’s toys. I started repeating the phrase, “Get out of that drawer” over and over and over.

10 minutes with a nurse, who carefully took note of all symptoms while I kept saying, “Get out of that drawer” and “put your clothes back on, we’re not here for YOU!”

3 minutes with a doctor, who apparently didn't even glance at any of the carefully taken notes. She also had a pronounced accent; she either said he was fine or that he had some sort of flesh-eating virus, I'm not sure which. She shoved a scope into his little ear, said it was “red but not swollen”, blurted a few other helpful things (“Are you feeding him regularly?” Aw, shucks, NO! I forgot all about that whole ‘feed the baby’ part! Is that our problem?!) and then told me if he's still sick in a week to bring him back.

A week?! You'd think that a pediatrician would know – a week of this ‘screaming all night, sleeping on mommy all day’ routine, and his mommy will be a brain-dead flesh-eating zombie.

She then capped this by informing me that I’d need to wash my hands frequently to help keep the germs down (I refrained from saying, “Ya THINK?”, but only by a narrow margin) and then began telling me how, since he has older siblings, he’s probably going to catch a lot of things from them, especially if they are in contact with other children, say, at preschool or…

Now, I know it is entirely possible that I have somehow managed to have four children go from cradle to first grade without understanding the ‘magic circle’ of children, snot, and diseases. But it was really, and I do mean really, hard not to snap something very counterproductive. Such as, “What kind of moron do you take me for?” or “Really? Kids can pass germs to each other? Who knew?!” or a drawled out, “Well, that’s useful information.”

It required a concentrated effort of will. Especially considering that I was, while she was delivering said helpful hints, commanding the older two away from the sink, trying to tie the shoelaces of the vigorously protesting four year old while the two year old was busy tugging off her shirt (again) and Bacon Bit was wailing his frustration at the top of his three month old lungs.

And after all that, she declined to give us a prescription for those ears on the basis that he didn’t have an infection as of yet.

But, I argued, if his ears are already red and swollen in there, the infection can’t be more than twenty four hours away…

She gave me that wonderful condescending smile doctors sometimes cultivate and informed me (loftily) that it was entirely possible that this infection would disappear on its own.

Uh-huh. I gave her my own carefully cultivated condescending smile and bet her a burrito that I’d be back within 48 hours with an even sicker infant. She looked puzzled, smiled vaguely, and beat a hasty retreat.

Two days later, I was back at the office, this time seeing our regular pediatrician with, yes, an even sicker infant. Dang. If I had managed to get a handshake on that bet, I’d be richer by a burrito. He took one glance into those ears, yelped, “Yikes!” and prescribed Amoxicillin, twice daily. He started to tell me not to wait so long next time, but wisely backed off upon seeing the expression on my face. My face, which reflected the fact that I was now going on the fourth straight day of having an infant screaming in my ear around the clock.

Now granted: I do not expect nor want my pediatrician to prescribe medications based on my “expert” opinion. I can just envision the exchange: “I believe my child needs marijuana to treat her excessive grasp of reality.” “Sure, why not?!”

But still! When the obvious signs of an impending ear infection are looming large, and a Mother of Many is telling you that the child is behaving like a baby with an ear infection…perhaps just a wee little touch of Considering The Source might be helpful?

I’m just sayin’.


Moira said...

I just have to say that the drs don't know it all and you do know your child better than they... I was lucky with Froggy was going thru all of his ear troubles My dr believed me when I just called and said "its started"!!

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