Monday, March 22, 2010

Common sense

It's amazing how very little time I have at the computer where I have two free hands. If I'm sitting down, I'm either nursing or holding a sleeping baby. If neither of those things are going on, then I'm on the run. And I cannot type with one hand. If my fingers can't keep up with my brain, I get very bored.

There has been plenty going on. Both boys have been to the emergency room, and Squeak was admitted and spent 3 days in the hospital. Both boys are fine now, and I've learned a great deal about being a parent in a worst case scenario driven health care system.

First, Bird was sent to the ER in the middle of the night by the call service nurse for our pediatrician. After days of fever from a fever virus that had finally climbed to 104.9 that morning, we found him crying in his crib with a temperature of 95 that night. Weird. So I called, and we were sent packing to the ER.

The short version, which is just as interesting but far less painful than the long version, is that Bird was just fine. In fact, by the time the doctor saw him, he was dancing around the exam room like Mick Jagger in his footie pajamas. We felt ridiculous for being there when what we should have done was gotten him up at home and observed him there for a little while before calling or going in. Lesson #1 learned.

Being the generous big brother that he is, Bird shared his virus with Squeak. Even though I know fever is serious in itty bitties, I wasn't that worried. His fever was 100.8 though, and I felt more comfortable taking him to the pediatrician. He looked good. He was eating, peeing, and pooping normally. So she ordered a blood culture and a urine sample and sent us home after consulting with some of her colleagues because of his age. I admit, I was nudging her along to the "go home" decision. I did not want to end up in the hospital with Squeak.

Beverly, our pediatrician, wanted to see him the next morning, just to be on the safe side, so we went back in and she declared him fever free and looking good. Big sighs were issued on a dodged bullet on this one, and we said our good byes.

Then, around 4:00 that afternoon, another doctor in the practice called and told us we had to get Squeak to the hospital NOW. As in, I was nursing him at the time and was supposed to stop and go to the ER. Weird, since he hadn't had a fever all day and seemed fine.

Again, the short version is far more interesting. He's fine. Not for a lack of invasive testing though. Bacteria in the blood is serious - if it's making you sick. However, there are instances where it's not making you sick, and there are even more instances of blood cultures being wrong due to contamination.

After three blood cultures (one out of each arm and the last out of his ankle), two catheters for urine cultures, one spinal tap, and a weekend of IV antibiotics, they decided that Squeak had a virus that he had kicked on his own.


While I think we all did the right thing at the beginning, there was definitely a point when I should have stood up and argued more. Demanded that they start using common sense and stop following the doctor rule book. I understand that rules are there for a reason, but Squeak was so obviously NOT sick anymore - it was just ridiculous to keep torturing him with that IV and more blood culture draws.

I should have stood up for my baby and said no to the last round of tests. I know now.

The nurses we had were wonderful though. It was refreshing to be around nurses who assumed that as Squeak's mama, I had it under control. They treated us with common sense actually. I stayed with him, and he co-slept with me the whole time. They never questioned whether I was feeding him enough and never suggested that I didn't know what was best for him. Since he showed every sign of a healthy baby with faulty test results, they treated him that way. Instead of following the clock, they followed his cues and took his temp when he happened to be awake. They made the stay quite bearable, and I am very grateful.

It's hard to argue with a doctor though. One of them asked me at one point if I actually had a scientific background. I guess I wasn't supposed to question so much? I told her that I did not, but that the definition of stupid was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Okay, so I didn't really say that, but I wanted to, and said some extremely nice version of it that went something like, "doing the same test over and over again until you get the result you want seems very unscientific to me."

It's hard to argue with a doctor when they have the scare card in their deck. "IF" is a very powerful word when it comes to your child's health.

There has to be a balance when it comes to listening to the parent and following the doctor rule book.

I wonder if they wrote common sense into the fancy new health care bill? The health care system could use a huge dose of common sense for sure.

Home again and happy about it.