Advice for Handling Sick Children
Background on Us
Nothing super fancy here. We are a pretty "cookie-cutter, typical American family." I put that in quotes because there is definitely NO such thing as typical. Our family is my hubs, me, daughter and son.
The hubs and I don't have medical degrees of any kind. Neither of us works in the medical field. But what I do have is nearly 8 years of parenting experience. And a lifetime of my own health issues. I consider myself to be a doctor's office, ER and hospital pro. And I am determined to raise kids who aren't afraid of those places either.
Do I think I am a master? Do I think you should follow my lead and do as I do? Nope, honestly I am not that narcissistic. However, I think it's nice to hear how other parents are reacting to certain situations. It makes me feel less alone when I read about other Mommies' adventures in rearing children.
Let's Catch You Up
Here's a brief run down of our medical history (very generic - duh, it's the internet).
- I have had terrible, chronic asthma since it was diagnosed at age 5.
- Hubs is relatively healthy
- Daughter has been pretty healthy, with a few notable exceptions
- Son has been racking up the medical bills since his premature birth
Trip to the Doctor's Office
I think on average, we probably visit the doctor once a month. That's between the two kids. Sometimes it feels like much more frequent. But I'd say that's a fair average for the year.
I think one of the most important things you, as a parent can do, is exude an air of calm and safety. Kids feed off of our energies. If you want a peaceful trip to the doctor, be a peaceful person. I'm not a peaceful person. I am more of what you might call a total nutball. I laugh and joke around with my kids. Essentially, I turn into a standup comedian. And it works. My kids will laugh with the nurses, tell jokes with the doctors and be basically silly. They don't stress about the horrible flu test or strep test they know may be coming. They know at the end of it all is a lollipop and possibly a sticker. And if Mommy isn't worried about what's happening, why should they?
Ok, so that's definitely easier said than done. And it for sure does not always work. I have to really turn it on if the doctor's visit involves needles of any kind.
Packing for a Doctor's Visit
Whether you are in the habit of carrying a diaper bag or not, there are a few things I always bring with me to the doc's office. Check out my list, obviously not everything on this list applies to every child.
- Diapers - if you have a child still in them. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but I have made the mistake of only having one extra in my bag before. I'd say for this trip, have at least 3. You never know.
- Wipes - these are good for lots of ages. Even if you are not a diapering parent anymore.
- A book - maybe two. One for your little one to look at or read with you. And one for you... sometimes the wait can feel like an eternity. This helps.
- Crayons and paper - I get those $0.99 spiral notebooks from Publix and carry a pack of Crayola Twistables (they don't melt or need to be sharpened). Seriously, these are almost ALWAYS with me, regardless of where we are going...
- Technology - Do you have an iPad? Bring it. Or hand over your phone. My husband doesn't like to share his phone with the kids... but he will if he goes to the pediatrician's office. It is sometimes the best distractor for the monsters. They almost go into Zombie Mode. (it you've given up your phone, you will be happy you packed a book)
- Snacks - I try to always remember to dump a bunch of gummy packs (those fruit chews, not gummy bears, although I won't judge) into my bag. I've also brought Ziplock bags with Goldfish crackers in them. And usually, I grab a water bottle or two (one for the sickie and one for the others). I cannot tell you how many times we have gotten to the doc's office and then had a major meltdown because one of the monsters is DYING FROM HUNGER... does not matter at all that you fed them a full meal just before getting in the car. The waiting will get to them, better to shove food in their crying pie-holes.
I know this seems like a lot to remember. But trust me, as someone who has been there in all kinds of crazy situations, these things will help you.
If there's anything you bring that is not on my list, please share below. I am always looking for new things to occupy us in the waiting room and exam room.
Even with all of the advice and suggestions I have given you above, none of it means anything if you (or your child) dislike the pediatrician or the nursing staff. I'm planning to write an article about choosing a pediatrician, so I won't go into too many specifics here. But it is absolutely crucial that you and your kids like the doctor. Better if you love him/her.
I think we may have an unfair advantage in this area. Our pediatrician is a really good friend of mine. We socialize a lot outside of the office. And our kids are friends. So my children see her when they are happy and healthy, and obviously when they are not. I think this means a lot to my kiddos. They know, without a shadow of a doubt, that their doc loves them and would never do anything to harm them. They trust her. And so do my husband and I. We have had several scary episodes with the kids, and I cannot tell you how nice it is to really trust our doctor.
Before you get all huffy and think that you will not be able to have the same kind of love for your pediatrician, here me out. We have not always gone to my friend. Let's call her Dr C. For years, from the moment Daughter was born until she was 4, we were patients at a big practice. Our favorite doc there was Dr K. She's the one we saw the most. But then she left the practice, and some stuff happened that we were uncomfortable with. After I reconnected with Dr C (our kids were in the same 3 year old program at school), it seemed like a no brainer to switch to her practice. Fast forward a bit, Dr C and Dr K opened a practice together... and I could not have been more excited.
The moral of my story is to not give up. If you are not happy, leave the practice. Find someone you are comfortable with... it's more than worth the time and energy that takes. If you (or your child) are not happy with the healthcare provider, how can you possibly expect to have a pleasant visit?
Let Me Know...
Did I leave anything out? Is there something you want me to write more about? I'd love to know your thoughts...