Saturday, 20 April 2013

No more wait and see.

Hello again my lovely readers, I come armed with words of warning to all of you. (Ooh that sounds ominous doesn't it?) For any of you out there who have children, or are planning on having children in the future, this applies the most to you. For any of you out there who never want to have children, or call your pets your fur babies, some of this can be related back to yourselves, so don't turn away just yet.

So over the past 2 years of being Miss K's mum, I have noticed a distinct lack of willingness for medical staff to make decisions when it comes to treating children. There is a prevailing attitude that it is safer to wait and see, especially while they are still babies. Now while I am sure this attitude is perfectly safe in some cases, in many it can be more dangerous and come with more long term damage than making a cautious decision to start low level diagnosis and treatment at a young age. Now I only have my personal experiences to draw on here, so I'm not saying in any way I am an expert. But I will give you my stories so you can understand why I have come to my own conclusions now.

When Miss K was first born, we had a huge problem with her breathing. Occasionally she would stop breathing and choke on some mysterious fluid that seemed to be coming from somewhere either in her lungs or stomach. Every time I brought this up with a nurse or a doctor they always brushed me off and said it sounded like excess amniotic fluid. Then at 2 weeks of age she got this massive infection in her eye complete with lots of oozy pus (sorry for any sensitive souls out there, who get queasy at the sight of the word pus.) I had an appointment with my MHN (Maternal Health Nurse for anyone who is not up to speed with parenting acronyms) who said it was just a case of conjunctivitis, and proceeded to tell me I could treat it with breast milk. Now this was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard. I know that breast milk is full of lots of wonderful vitamins, minerals and antibodies, but nowhere on any of the forums on breast feeding that I have gone to have they said to use it on serious infections. So I smiled politely, and left the nurse's office and took my baby to MY doctor, who took a swab of the infected area and told me she'd get back to me the next day with a diagnosis, as it was more likely a staph infection than plain old conjunctivitis. Well by the time she got back to me 5 days later, we were already in hospital getting Miss K treated for meningitis along with a whole host of other infections, so I thanked her for confirming my suspicions, and told her we were already getting everything treated all at once in hospital.

From that day on, I have developed a deep suspicion of doctors. There are very few people in the medical industry in my area that I will actually trust with my daughter's well being, because no one around here seems able to accept that as her mother I may know a little bit about what I'm talking about, and that my concerns need to be taken seriously. My second case in point is Miss K's eyes. I took her for her first appointment at the optometrists at almost 10 months old, because she already had a lazy eye. While the optometrist we saw was a lovely gentleman, and he was very patient with both of us, especially as 9 months old don't always have a tendency to be able to sit still long enough to have their eyes examined, but even though he admitted that she does have a problem with her eyesight, he was hesitant to start treating it straight away, and told us to come back in 12 months time. So despite my concerns that this wasn't something that was just going to right itself, I went away and came back 12 months later, this time to be seen by our current optometrist Dr Con. Now I love Dr Con. He is so patient with my squirmy 2 year old, and he always manages to get what he needs out of our consultations, but I got so angry when he told me that Miss K should have been given glasses at our first appointment 12 months earlier. And then he told me that a lot of the balance, co-ordination and developmental issues that we had been having with Miss K all this time was most probably linked to terrible eye sight. So yet again my daughter was kept behind by another medical expert hesitant to try anything to help her, and my own stupid belief that the doctors know better than I do.

So when I went to our old family doctor with concerns about Miss K's speech and breathing, and again was told she was too young to have anything done about it until she was three years old, I refused to give in. I took her to our current MHN (who does not believe that breast milk is a magic elixir that cures staph infections) who spent five minutes watching Miss K and then organised to get us into a program designed to help kids with developmental difficulties. It was such a huge relief to have someone finally tell me that I wasn't an idiot for wanting something done sooner rather than later I could have cried. We were assessed for the program a week later, and started attending the very next day. Miss K has been going for two weeks now and the change in her was almost immediate. And it's not just her speech that we are getting help with, it is also her gross and fine motor skills, something which I didn't even have any idea were under developed. I have been madly searching the internet for other things we can do at home to help boost the work we are doing in the sessions, and I found a forum telling me don't wait until the child is 3 like our family doctor told me to do, get it taken care of sooner, to stop them falling further and further behind.

Now our old family doctor is indeed old. He has been seeing my family since Ben was about 8, so he's been doing this for a long time, and is currently getting ready to retire. He is still very much an old school doctor, so the treatments you get from him can be a bit dated. I can't fault the level of care he has given us in the past, because he has been a trusted physician for our whole family for as long as I can remember, but I can't put up with one more person ignoring my concerns just because I'm only a parent and not a trained physician. What these people seem to forget is that we mums (and dads) are the ones who spend 24 hours a day with these little people. We are the ones who learn exactly how they are feeling just by the look in their eyes. We are the ones who know when they're just a little bit off or when something is seriously wrong from the colouring in their cheeks. We may not have gone to university for a period longer than all of my relationships put together, but we are experts in this little person we are bringing to you, and we wouldn't be coming to you if we didn't really think that something was wrong. You can't just pat us on the head and tell us to stop being such a worry wart, take us seriously dammit and check out the child.

So that brings me to my words of warning. Doctors are not gods. They may have an extensive medical education to back them up, but they aren't infallible. There are times when you are more of an expert than they are, because it's YOUR body or YOUR child that you are talking about, and who knows them better than you? Now I'm not saying stop going to doctors, or start a revolt and insist that they give you a barrage of tests for every single sniffle, but if your gut instincts tell you that the doctor isn't taking your concerns seriously, then seek a second opinion. or a third. At the end of the day if something terribly wrong wasn't diagnosed and treated correctly, you are the one who has to deal with the aftermath, not them.
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