A Visit To Doctor Dread

So we all got bronchitis last month! Here’s to bronchitis and all the havoc it wreaks. Sidney, my five-year-old, got it the worst. She had to go on a nebulizer machine four times a day because her air passages were so congested and blocked, and she was wheezing. Sidney is such a trooper that we didn’t really know how sick she was. I took the girls in to their pediatrician for something else — their yearly checkup — and didn’t really even mention the cold. Anyway, the doctor examined her and then scolded me for being such a bad parent that I didn’t bring her in for her cold. She especially thought I was an ass because we had all had the cold for about a month. She was like: “Dude, you’re a moron, colds don’t last for a month, it’s something worse, you gotta bring her in, you total dumbshit.”

Okay, so that’s a paraphrase and not a direct quote, but I could read between the lines, if you know what I mean. She thought I was a dumbshit parent. But we knew so many people in town who had this nasty cold for about a month that we just kinda thought everybody was doing it.

It was only after this that the weirdness happened. Apparently, this doctor decided that I was the kind of parent who would ignore all signs of illness in my children, so she had to whip out the scare tactics. (This was very ironic, because I am actually the pansy parent who usually takes his children in at the slightest trace of a medical problem.) So the pediatrician says, with my 5-year-old and 3-year-old in the room: “I’m not kidding, you have to take them in when they’re like this, they could DIE FROM THIS.”

I glance at my kids, who are taken aback. Great, thanks for sharing, doc. I say to her: “I get it, we need to come in earlier next time, we’ll do that.”

But she continues: “I’m serious, I had a young patient die just a few months ago because the seriousness of her condition wasn’t recognized and we didn’t get her on the nebulizer early enough. This is serious business, dad.”

Okay, I tell her, I got it, we heard the extreme worst case scenario, we’ll come in earlier next time, so now let’s talk about how to treat the normal manifestation of this illness, like we have here. But she obsessively continues:

“I went to the kid’s funeral.” I look at my two children, who are handling this situation much more responsibly than their pediatrician. It has suddenly become obvious that this doctor feels guilty about her patient who died, and is presently focusing more on working through her horror over that tragedy than on the situation at hand with my children. I square the pediatrician in the eye:

“We get it. Move on.”

As soon as the pediatrician leaves the room, Sidney turns to me: “Daddy, I don’t want to die right now.”

“You won’t, honey, we’ll take care of you,” is what I say. ‘FUCK that doctor’ is what I’m thinking. I give Sidney a big hug and tell her for the millionth time what a wonderful and mature girl she is. On the phone, later on, I let the doctor’s office know that I never want that ridiculous scenario to happen again — if they feel the need to scare me into taking my kids to the doctor earlier, or work out their anguish over a patient tragedy, they can talk to me about it when my kids aren’t around. What I didnt’ say is this: Better yet, maybe we’ll get a new doctor.

So Sidney’s been on the nebulizer for almost a month, and after many weeks of hard work on it, she has gotten better. She has been absolutely fantastic about it. It has been a huge drain on all of us — 20 minutes four times a day is a huge chunk of time out of our schedule. It’s been an especially weird thing because, frankly, it never seemed to be that bad of an illness. Sidney has been in good spirits the whole time, she always wanted to go out and play, she has as much energy as usual. But we played it safe and reduced our activities the last month. God, I love that girl. She is so strong and positive. Totally my idol, totally inspiring.

Something else happened in the last couple weeks. I’m trying to remember what it was… Oh yeah, Christmas. We had a beautiful white Christmas here in Colorado. Santa came and brought a big-ass Barbie dollhouse, which, frankly, was not at all what I wanted. But there is a happy ending to that misunderstanding, because my daughters really seem to love it. Or maybe it was intended for them in the first place. I’ll ask him next year if I see him when he stops by.

Happy New Year!

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