Saturday, March 8, 2008

Long post, but important lesson

Sooooooo...what did I do after I got home from the hospital?  Went to the ER with Chicken.  Yup, less than one hour after I got home, he had to go.  Hubby had told me that he was acting very lethargic and unlike himself and wouldn't hardly move and his cough was much worse.  He finally got him to sleep and on my way home from the hospital, I called the pediatrician's office to see if it warranted a trip to the ER.  She told me to look for "see-sawing" in his chest where he was having trouble breathing.  Essentially, it was his stomach going out and his chest sinking in as he took a breath.  She said at the moment, to take him in first thing the next morning, but if I noticed any of the signs she told me to take him in immediately.

Well, I walk in the door, help Hubby fold about 5 pieces of clothing and chicken wakes up making a horrible sound.  I go in there and he's laying on his stomach moaning/crying/heaving for air and coughing and gagging.  He was "see-sawing" and could barely breathe.  Of course, Hubby and I both panic.  But wait!  Punky is sleeping so only one of us could go to the ER.  I told hubby I might as well be the one since I was good and hydrated and rested after a long day of sitting and doing nothing.  So I loaded him up and took off.

When I say I was treated like a number and an incompetent mother, that's the understatement of the century.  As I was put in our room at the ER, what I assume to be my nurse called to me from the door (literally across the room) and asked me a series of questions.  Another nurse, who was nice and concerned, had checked us in and I thought she would be my nurse.  I thought this other guy was just being nosy since he wasn't ACTING like a nurse.  I answered his questions a little hesitantly and watched him pop the door frame with his hand and say, "The doctor will be right with you."  One.Hour.Later.  Yeah, he failed to add that to his little flippant repertoire.  So when the doc finally came in (after the "nurse" brought us a popcicle and apple juice), he ordered a chest x-ray and I kid you not, every time I said something, he just grinned and acted like I was stupid for having asked.  When I told him about Chicken's episode, he sort of frowned and raised his eyebrows like it was the oddest thing he'd heard all night.  As he was walking out the door, I called to him and asked him if he could have croup and he just grinned.

"We'll just have to see what the x-ray says."  And.he.left.

After Chicken's traumatic x-ray, we sat for another hour or two (I lost track of time by then, but did get to see Jeff Corwin on Leno.  It was the highlight of my evening).  At that point, I had noticed a bad rash on Chicken's stomach and had to get the insurance lady to get my "nurse."  I still wasn't sure if the nosy guy was my nurse or if I just didn't have one.  He came in, squatted a bit in front of us and just looked at me.  "Have you told the doctor about this?"  I looked back at him, trying my best to reflect his flippant, who-really-cares look and said, "Nope.  Haven't seen him since I noticed it."  He stood up, snapping his fingers and said, "Well, just tell him when he comes back."

At this point, I'm irate.  It's nearing 1 am and I'm tired.  Chicken hasn't been asleep since 9, when he woke up gasping for air and being the schedule freak I am, I just keep wondering how on earth he's going to be fit for anything tomorrow.  I rock him, I do everything but he just won't go to sleep.  So we sit for a little while longer and the doctor finally comes in.  I show him the rash.  "That looks like a sandpaper rash that's very typical with scarlet fever or scarletina."  I look at him.  I'm no idiot.  I'm certainly no doctor but my kid does NOT have scarlet fever.  I've known kids who've had it and it's not that.  They actually run a fever with scarlet fever.  Chicken's temp was 98.1 when we checked in.

It was one of those moments I wish I could go back and do over.  I'm very obviously a bother to the entire medical field at this point.  What I would give to just go back and look at him and say, "Don't they have to have a fever to have scarlet FEVER?"  For some reason it never dawned on me to ask that.  He did ask me the last time he had a fever and I told him back on Monday when we got the stomach bug.  I guess he was going on that.  BUT, he wrote on my release sheet:  Diagnosis 1: Scarletina DX2: FEVER (huh?) DX3: Upper respiratory infection.  Did someone send out a memo that I missed deeming 98.1 a fever?  How is diagnosing him with something he doesn't have?

"Well," he said after sitting back and grinning at me, so very proud of himself.  "He's got scarlet fever.  I'll give him a round of antibiotics, write this up and get you out of here."  

I just stare.  Isn't that what he wanted from the moment I walked in?  Isn't a patient a doctor's worst nightmare?  Cause after all, he made about $1000 for 5 minutes of his time.  Sounds like he's gotten a little too big for his britches.

The next day, I refused to give Chicken the antibiotics until I talk with my pediatrician.  My doctor, as I've noted before, is wonderful.  She helped START the pediatric ER here in town.  I'm not sure if she said she was ON the board, or if she was just good friends with everyone still, but either way she's respected amongst the hospital staff.  At our appointment, I relayed everything that happened.

"What did his strep test say?" she asked me.

"They didn't do a strep test."

She's very angry at this point and started to get a little red in the cheeks.  "Scarlet fever is strep throat with a rash, if he's going to diagnose scarlet fever, he could have at least done a strep test."  I just raised my eyebrows in agreement and reiterated that he hadn't had a fever when we went in.  She then asked me his name, wrote it down and told me she wanted me to speak with administration about it.  I told her I had a lot going on at the moment, but she was welcomed to do whatever she needed to.  She apologized and examined Chicken very thoroughly.  Then she said, "I wonder if he's getting croup."  I cocked an eyebrow.  "That's what I asked the doctor last night because he sounds like he's barking AND he's losing his voice.  He ignored me."  She hung her stethoscope around her neck and shook her head.  "That's probably what this is.  I'm going to give him some steroids and a round of antibiotics just because he's been congested for three weeks.  I'm sure this will help him."  I ask her about Punky since croup is contagious.  She didn't hesitate to up the dosage of the steroid enough for Punky although she assured me that she wouldn't get as sick as Chicken because her airways were larger.  She told me what to do if Punky got sick, too and I left, feeling so much more relieved than when I arrived.  My gut was right, he didn't have scarlet fever and he might actually survive.

As I was leaving, I looked up at the doc and she was in a corner with one of the other doctors and was griping and I could tell she was mad as old wet hen.  I have a feeling Dr. Cocky is about to be castrated.  All I can say is...would you like a wah-burger with those french cries?

While the doctor didn't prescribe Chicken anything my pediatrician hadn't, I KNEW his diagnosis was wrong.  I KNEW something wasn't right from the moment I walked in and had the blase nurse I never saw and the doctor who just smiled and acted like I was an idiot.  While I'm no doctor, my pediatrician reminded me that in today's society people have access to information that they've never had before and they're not stupid and ever-trusting in doctors.  The only reason I had asked the ER doc about croup was because my mom, my mother in law, and the nurse that checked us in at the er said that was what it sounded like and they knew from experience.  

The moral of the rambling, really-ticked-off blog?  Trust your gut with your kids.  I've done it more than once and it's paid off.  It could have been more severe and the doc put Chicken through a bunch of tests or try to give him meds he didn't need.  I'm happy to report Chicken is getting much better.  He's still coughing but he's not waking up as much and not struggling to breathe.  Who knows where this could have lead if I had just put my faith in them?  (Sad when it's put that way, huh?)

And as for me...I'm happy to report that I'm all well.  We're living like hermits from now until our vacation and move though.  We're not going back out to church until Easter so the kiddos can have a reprieve from all of this.  

Thanks for all your prayers and sorry for the long post, but I think it needed to be said!


Anonymous said...

I am so glad it was not Scarlet Fever and I am glad to hear he is improving. It is frightening to think doctors could be so wrong.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Wow. What an ordeal. I would have been so irate at that doctor.
You're right. You may not have a medical degree, but as a mom you know your children better than anyone.

OHmommy said...

OMG.... what an ER doctor!

Way to go trusting your gut. Seriously, that is the BEST advice ever. So glad that you guys a re all doing better.

Boy. Now you need a vacation!