You need a buddy!

Here’s a good post by The Happy Hospitalist about the mental checklist a doctor goes through whenever a patient is examined. In this case, however, the doctor misread an important sign and decided to send the child home.  Happy describes what happened next:

Several hours later the child was complaining of a mild headache, was having a bout of diarrhea and was not interested in moving or eating or drinking.  He was still wheezing and he was still having fevers… When I heard about how the child was acting, how his oxygen saturations left no wiggle room for safety, how he was complaining of a headache (which could be a sign of low oxygen levels), how he sounded lethargic, how he had a history of asthma and SVT, and how the H1N1 virus was disproportionately affecting the young in adverse ways, Mrs Happy and I recommended that she ignore her physician’s advice for watchful waiting and take her child in for an emergency assessment and emergency medical care.

This is a situation in which a parent excels – watch your child closely when he/she is sick. No one knows them better than you do; often you are the first person to detect that something just isn’t right. You may not have the medical education, and you may be following a gut feeling, but if that alarm bell starts going off in your head, act on it. Many a CHDer was first diagnosed by “Dr. Mom”… who may have had no idea what was going on, but they realized that something was wrong.

As the mother, you have to do what you think is right.  That means if you think your child is in danger, you take them in for an emergency assessment and emergency medical care, regardless of what anyone else says, including the physician.

PalMD of the blog The White Coat Underground continues the theme as he discusses the best thing you can bring to the hospital with you: an advocate. Going in to the hospital doesn’t automatically make you an idiot, but it can be extremely difficult to keep your head in the game:

Even minor illnesses change the way we think, not just about mortality and finances, and other “big things”, but it changes our ability to think…Trying to parse through this complex information when in pain and stoned on Dilaudid is a challenge.

So plan to be out of it – and if you aren’t coherent, you need someone to look after you. Perhaps not 24/7 but as often as possible. A perfectly healthy friend of mine lost all the feeling in her right side and collapsed one Friday afternoon, and was rushed to the ER of a “Regional Hospital”. After some tests were run, the doctor came in, sat down, and announced that she has suffered a stroke… and that they would do an MRI first thing Monday morning to determine the damage and start treatment.

I was sitting on my couch 35 miles away; yet I clearly heard her husband scream “The hell you say!”

Take a friend to the hospital – or be a friend and go with someone you know.

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