They say that breaking up is hard to do. Well, it's even harder to do ... with your doctor.
Mom Logic's Christina: I've been in some pretty tumultuous relationships. One minute, we're on. The next, minute we're off. One day he's the best guy in the world, the next day he's a moron who I can't believe I wasted my time with. Well, even though my psycho boyfriend days are a thing of the past, there is still one relationship that leaves me confused: My son's pediatrician.
For the past two months, my 15-month-old son has had a constant cold/virus. We have been and forth from the doctor literally six times in eight weeks and they always say his ears, nose and throat are clear and it's just a virus. The reason: "He's exposed." My son is in day care, five days a week, all day long. Kids have snot and are little Petri dishes. I get it. But does that mean he will constantly be sick? At one point, after a two-week run of fever, coughing, and more mucous than a Garbage Pail Kid, the doctor diagnosed him with sinus infection and put him on Amoxicillin, which he has already been on twice before. One week later, our son broke out in a horrible, welt-like rash. This didn't happen the other times. So once again, we marched back in to the pediatrician's office in hopes of an explanation. Their diagnosis: an allergic reaction to the medication.
One week later, our son started to throw up nightly. Yep. Nightly. Now, at this point, I assume most parents might start to get scared that there's a bigger problem going on. So of course, we went baaaaaaaaaack in to the doctor. The diagnosis: Too much mucous -- it's making him gag. Okay. Seriously. Mucous. Cold. Virus. I get it!!! But come on!!! It's $150 bucks a pop to be told that he's just "exposed" and experiencing "residual symptoms." My husband and I are frustrated and feel like at a certain point, maybe they should run more tests. Are there cultures they could do? X-rays? Blood work? Something to determine that it's not an allergy or asthma or worse: a bigger immune system problem....!!!
So, last week, at yet another "he's still sick" visits, I brought in a request to have his records transferred to another pediatrician in the area, and handed it to his nurse on the way out. Within two hours, I got a call from the pediatrician begging me to stay and telling me that we'll get to the bottom of it and that truly, there is nothing to worry about. His office has now called FIVE days in a row, to see how our son is doing and to tell me that they really want to keep us as patients and that they can assure us he's getting excellent care. On one hand, I do think -- like any relationship that is on the brink of ending -- that maybe now he'll pay more attention and we'll get VIP treatment. On the other hand, could they be wooing me back in (because business is bad), only to find out in a few weeks from now that he is not the guy I thought I was ...?
Well, this is one relationship I can't make sense of, so I asked our expert Dr. Cara Natterson to weigh in:
What are the top three signs that you need to find a different pediatrician?
One main reason to find a new doctor is if you feel like you are not communicating well. Poor care that results in a bigger problem would be the second (like a missed infection or a misdiagnosis that delays the proper treatment). Having big philosophical differences (like the doctor goes to medication quickly and you prefer not to) would be the third.
Should I demand that they run tests even if they feel strongly against it?
Demanding that tests be run usually doesn't help you or your child. You don't know what tests need to be run in the first place, and doctors often get defensive when patients appear to know more abut the medicine than they do. BUT, I do think it really helps to encourage a doctor to do any tests s/he thinks are necessary. We pediatricians often bend over backward not to poke a little kid with a needle in order to get blood or not to do an X-ray in order to avoid radiation exposure. A parent who says she is comfortable with more invasive tests is often one who opens up that option to a doctor trying to avoid it. On he other hand, if no test is necessary -- if drawing blood or doing an X-ray won't help -- you need to listen to your doctor's explanation about why that is so. Feel free to ask!
Is it a good or bad sign when your pediatrician's office begs you to stay?
I think that when an office calls to check in, and particularly when a doctor calls, it is a sign that they care about your child. Trust me, they've got lots of business, especially this time of year. The fact that they are taking time every day to check on your child means that (a) they have heard how frustrated you are and (b) more importantly they care that your child is getting better.
What do you think I should do? Should I keep him or kick him to the curb? Tell us in our momlogic community!