Family / Parenting

Seeking Medical Care for Our Children Usually I’m pretty decisive when it comes to parenting. But there is one question that tends to make me second-guess myself: Is this serious enough for an ER visit? When to take a kid to the hospital – or even the doctor sometimes – is something with which I struggle. I don’t want to be alarmist but I obviously don’t want my child to go without the care s/he needs. Both my partner and I grew up in families that didn’t believe in much medical intervention. I believe in the resilience of children and have had success with natural remedies for common ailments. But I am also a parent and want to protect my babies from every discomfort. Seeing my children suffer, even just from a cough, can seem unbearable. So, sometimes it’s hard to see things objectively when my children are hurt or sick.

We are fortunate to have domestic partner health insurance through my spouse’s job. Also, we are considering purchasing one of the Medicare supplement plans in case of a medical emergency that is often not covered by standard medical insurance, such as dental implants, or vision correction, so that we don’t break the bank when paying for them.

We shopped around until we found a doctor that gets most issues and tends to intervene less than your average caregiver. I continually find myself grateful that she is queer-literate and non-alarmist.

But then, occasionally, my alarm goes off. Does this rash look funny? Is this fever concerning? Is this stomach flu leading to dehydration? I find myself hemming and hawing about whether to make an appointment. Usually, I send a message to my doctor to check-in (I’m sure she rues the day she gave me her email address), and nine times out of ten she assures me everything sounds fine, but that I’m welcome to bring the child in if I’m concerned.

Recently, I found myself faced with this recurring dilemna. Zoe, my 22 month old, woke up with a limp. I wasn’t aware of any trauma to her leg. She still seemed happy. She was active and getting around, despite her limp. She was eating normally and didn’t have a fever. When the limp persisted throughout the day, I contacted our doctor. She suggested we go into the ER for X-rays. One thing about having a non-alarmist doctor, is that when she says, “Go to the ER,” You go to the ER.

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So my poor little baby went to the hospital for X-rays and some blood tests. She looked adorably pathetic in her little hospital gown. The X-rays ruled out a fracture, but she tested positive for Lyme disease. So now we are on a 28 day course of antibiotics with the belief that she will make a full recovery.

I’m so glad we took her in and that we were able to get a clear diagnosis. I’m glad we feel comfortable with our care providers. It’s really an exercise in trust to turn care of your most precious loves over to someone you don’t know all that well. With medicine not being an exact science, it’s easy to feel uneasy with a doctor who hasn’t yet earned your trust, especially when you are second guessing your own gut feelings.

How do you decide when something is serious enough to involve your doctor? Do you get every sniffle and cough checked out? Or do you have a threshold of more severe symptoms? Is your doctor LGBT literate? Do you trust your medical care providers?


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  1. Jan Kaminsky says:

    Since I am a nurse, I joke that my children have to have an arterial bleed or projectile vomiting to be taken to the ped. I’m kidding, of course, but sometimes I am a little too lax and then end up regretting not taking them. My youngest is asthmatic, so it’s a constant “should we or shouldn’t we” with her especially.

  2. This is a constant battle with my daughter’s dad. He wants to go (and medicate) for everything! I believe that most of the time she will be fine. In the end, I think neither of us is happy and our doctors are mostly just left clueless.

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