Deciding when to take the kids to the doctor

One November morning, Jase came down the stairs, coughing. It was deep, unproductive sound. I got him a glass of milk. As soon as he took a sip, he started coughing more and sounding like he might throw up. But in fact, I think he was just coughing so hard that he couldn’t get air back into his lungs. This of course set him into a panic which made the situation worse.

Finally, my husband was able to calm him down. He had him lie on the bed and just focus on breathing. Jase sounded like Darth Vader. There was no way we wanted to send him to school sounding like that so I took Lexie to school and when I returned, I called the doctor’s office to see if we should bring him in.

sick childThat is always a quandary for parents – when is your child sick enough to need to see a doctor? I am not the kind that takes them in at every little sniffle or fever. In fact, I would rather NOT take them in unless I believe it to be serious. Heck, I don’t even medicate a fever (see my post last year on that topic) unless it is over 102 or causing the child discomfort.

Of course if the fever persists or there are other symptoms, I will take my kid to the doctor. I just don’t want to be one of these over-protective parents. I have friends who take their kids in whenever they start to feel bad, so they can “get ahead” of whatever is wrong.

Now I will admit that I have taken the kids in for minor things right before we plan to go out of town. I don’t know what it is but as soon as we have trip plans, one of them will run a fever or get sick. Since I don’t want to be out of town and discover they have an ear infection or something that needs treatment, I have taken them to the doctor. And each time it has turned out to be nothing serious. It does give me peace of mind, but I always feel slightly silly as I would have never brought them in if we hadn’t been getting ready to leave town.

So back to Jase and his breathing, I received a return call from a nurse from the doctor’s office. Since it was a breathing issue, they would want to see him, but they don’t have any openings for the next four hours. She suggests we take him to Urgent Care so off he and my husband went. They did a chest x-ray and had him breathe with a nebulizer. They gave him a steroid and sent him home with a two-day supply of steroids and the nebulizer. It turned out to just be a virus and by that afternoon, he was feeling better.

There are all sorts of lists online or in books that give you guidelines about when to take your kid to the doctor. But I think the best course of action when you are in doubt – and the one I use the most – is just call and talk with a nurse or doctor who can determine if they need to be seen. When in doubt, it is always better to err on the side of caution and take them in – even if you feel silly for doing it when nothing turns out to be wrong with them.

Treating the child not the fever

My son followed one of my childhood Christmas traditions this year; he was sick. As a child, I routinely had strep throat during Christmas. This year Jase woke up with a 102 degree temperature on Christmas morning.

My daughter and I had a low-grade fever the weekend before Christmas. Now when I mention this to my husband, his usual response is to give them fever reducing medicine such as children’s ibuprofen. But I am not one to take medicine, unless I really need it. So unless the fever is causing some discomfort, I don’t want to give them medicine to reduce it. I am definitely one to treat the child and not the fever. After all, the fever is there for a reason.

Actually, this time in both incidents, I did reach for the medicine. Lexie complained her head hurt and just wasn’t herself, so we gave her ibuprofen. But the next day, she still had the same low-grade fever but was playing enthusiastically with her brother. No medicine this time.

Now with Jase and Christmas day, we wanted him to enjoy the morning of opening presents, so we convinced him to take some chewable ibuprofen. I say convinced because he really hates taking medicine. Lexie, on the other hand, has been taking some form of medication every day basically since birth and is pretty good about taking her medicine though on some of the nastier tasting antibiotics we do end up bribing her. (Candy works wonders.)

sick childJase took the medicine and had a wonderful Christmas morning. It is amazing that you can see almost exactly when the medicine wears off. His face is flush and he just curls up on the couch. The next day he was feeling even worse and tried a liquid cold medicine. It didn’t go over too well. After that, he refused to take any medicine. And since he fever was under 102, I didn’t force the issue. We just concentrated on giving him fluids and letting him rest.  We offered him anything he wanted to drink, but he stuck with juice (which he almost never drinks) and milk. I was just happy to get him to take anything since he didn’t eat at all the day after Christmas.

Now in this case, we let Jase decide about the medicine, but just so you don’t think he is in charge all the time, if it had been a prescription medication, he wouldn’t have had a choice just like if the fever had been higher than 102, he would not have been the one to decide whether he took it.

That said, it is no fun to be sick while on our Christmas break. But the good news is that he didn’t break his perfect attendance record at school. And as a reward for perfect attendance, he earned a free ticket to tonight’s Spurs game against the Brooklyn Nets. Yep, now that everyone is finally better we are all going to the basketball game. This is Lexie’s first time and could possibly supply a whole new blog topic for new week. We will see. Until then…Go Spurs Go!