The “Fastest” Way to See a Pediatrician

Luke has been home sick all week. Not *quite* how I envisioned the first week back at school for the kids. You see, he has had this strange tickle/cough since Sunday December 23rd. (I remember because I first noticed it during church. It truly is impossible to keep kids quiet during church!) Luke wasn’t sick over Christmas. He just had this cough that wouldn’t go away. It’s not his normal chest cold cough, it sounds like a telegraph machine — a series of small, rapid coughs, like he’s clearing his throat or trying to catch his breath, but he isn’t doing either.

After a while we started to wonder if it might be a tick. I mean, he wasn’t sick. He could stop for a little while if we asked him to stop or to take deep breaths. It usually stops when he is concentrating on something and is worse when he eats or is trying to fall asleep. But, like I said, he hasn’t been sick.

Until this past Saturday night when he said his throat was sore. That’s when Marc remembered that when he had strep throat in June he had a tickle in his throat for a couple weeks beforehand. So that’s where I thought we were headed. We kept Luke home on Sunday and Monday morning I took him to the doctor; his throat was sore and he looked horrible. Labs and antibiotics followed. (I’ll just say it’s quite “interesting” to try to get a 7 year old boy to pee in a cup…) We got a call at 11:30 the next day that the doctor wanted to see us about the labs. But since Olivia was coming home with her friends before 1pm, I had to get into town (which is 20 minutes away) before noon to see the doctor. So we did a whirlwind trip into town and found out that his labs came back a lot less normal than he’d expected. He wanted to make sure Luke was improving with the antibiotics (which he was) and said if he got worse or if I had an intuition that something was different to take him up to the ER at the children’s hospital in Edmonton.

The doctor wanted to see Luke again Thursday morning at the hopsital and there follow up on the labs and have the pediatrician see him. So Luke and I headed out early yesterday morning in the dark on some of the worst highways I’ve seen (but at least there was reasonable visibility so I could see the bad roads) and went to the ER as instructed. We were there just over two hours, in which time they repeated the labs and got the results back. The doctor saw him briefly and told us that his white blood cell count was normal again, but that the pediatrician wasn’t there this morning and we should come back tomorrow (this) morning at 8:30am.

So we packed up all the kids this morning (thankful Marc was with me and that we got to leave a bit later than the day before) and Luke and I got dropped off at the hospital. Marc dropped the girls off at school and did errands. After the errands were done, Marc joined us at the hospital sometime after 11am. We were still in the waiting room. Angry Birds had long since depleted our old iPod’s batteries. We were onto that dot game where you have to complete squares out of lines. (We’d spent the 2 hours the day before doing that one, as I’d forgotten to bring anything entertaining along.)

After two hours we heard that the pediatrician hadn’t even arrived yet. Marc did some investigating and also planned a ride home for him and Olivia (who’s done school at noon) with the church secretary. And there Luke and I sat. For another forty minutes. When I went up to the triage desk again the nurse was shocked that we were still there. (She was also shocked that “Dixie” was my name. “No. What’s your real name?! Really? It’s not short for anything?!”) She then got on the job and a few minutes later we found out that, though the pediatrician had been told he had a patient at the ER and had been paged several times, he had left. And the message that he’d left somehow had not been relayed to the ER.

And so we left. Over four hours later. (I’ll admit it, I had tears in my eyes when the nurse told me. I always get like that when I get tired and frustrated.)

We are to go back Monday at 9:30 am and we are on a list to see the pediatrician (though, we were also on a list this morning!). The doctor we’d seen earlier in the week said that this would be “the fastest way to see a pediatrician.” And at about 11:30 this morning I still believed him. By the time we would drive to Edmonton and back and wait for a scheduled appointment, it would be over 3 hours. Plus who knows how many weeks it would take to get an appointment.

But I’m still not convinced of the doctor’s logic. Nor am I convinced that Luke really needed to be seen that quickly anyway. (Although after spending  two mornings in ER I see now that it gets used for all sorts of non emergency cases. I guess I always figured you had be oozing some sort of bodily fluid to justify going there.) I also think 5 days off of school wasn’t called for, though I do understand that a bunch of crazy bugs are going around now. (Though, if the doctor’s worried about the bugs, is 6 hours sitting in an emergency room waiting room really the best place to be?!)

So… looks like he will miss one more morning of school and hopefully that morning off and that fifth trip to town for medical care will be fruitful. I am glad Luke is feeling better, and I hope we get this strange cough thing figured out. And, I did almost get to the end of the awesome book I’ve been reading: “In the Midst of Life — Is there such a thing as a good death?” by the same author of Call the Midwife.

And the ER was kind of a perfect place to read it…

Now for a nap…for me…  why is Luke not nearly as exhausted by all of this as I am?!

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