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goin’ to the doctor again…(why ERs are filled)

December 20th, 2003 · No Comments

This morning Abigail woke up looking like she had swallowed a tennis ball under her left ear. The whole side of her face is swollen, distorting her appearance. I hurt just looking at her. I suspect it may just be an irritated lymph node, as she had something like this happen last summer – at that time the doctor told us we’d simply have to wait a few weeks for it to subside – but when I’ve spoken to medical (scheduling) staff on the phone this morning, they’ve told me I need to bring her in to see someone. Pediatrics is closed on Saturday so we’ll be seeing a doc in family practice or urgent care.

Abigail seems a bit upset, but she says it doesn’t hurt. But when she woke up early this morning she claimed it bothered her too much to go back to sleep. Maybe she’s too tired. Ted and I convinced her to go back to bed and have some quiet time.

However, despite my phone calls through the past two hours, I have not yet received a call back from a nurse. I’m feeling frustrated with the system. I’m happy to keep her at home. But if she needs to see someone, I want her to be seen. I don’t want to take her to an ER. I don’t think it’s necessary.

But if no one has an available slot today, is the ER my only option? I know that the flu is filling the waiting rooms and the ERs too. Driving all the way to the hospital ER in Bremerton isn’t really a better option. We’d probably end up waiting for hours, costing more money for us and the insurance, and in the end, feeling more exhausted. But I guess this may be why ERs are filled – people can’t get in to see someone or else people think they need to see someone right away, rather than waiting for the system to respond….

I am glad that this is not an emergency situation and I understand that there are plenty of patients requiring more urgent care than my daughter. But I really wish someone would spend sixty seconds to call me, tell me whether I could give her Tylenol, and perhaps promise me an appointment today…

I’ll be updating this through the day…..


Update: 4 pm.
I called again and the clinic said we could come in at noon.
They must have read my rant above because we were treated wonderfully.
The waiting room was unusually empty, and the nurse came for us on time.
The doctor who looked at Abigail is someone who works whenever needed, not a usual on the staff. I liked her blinking menorah pin that combined the festive with the techie look (made out of green chip/motherboard material).
She thought it was Abigail’s parotid gland, the salivary gland, that had swelled. The doctor took a strep sample and we waited 30 minutes or so for the results (the fact that we were allowed to wait in our room also indicated that it wasn’t incredibly busy!)

Strep was negative but the doctor suggested trying antibiotics anyway to help clear it. She said we could try some blood work if we wanted, to better determine if it was a bacterial infection, look at the White Blood Cell count and some other tests. I’d rather find out a little more rather than giving antibiotics without really knowing what was going on inside her.

So then we went to the laboratory. Let’s just say it brought both Abigail and me to tears. I could write a whole blog post about that. I knew the doctor had said it was my choice, and I was constantly re-evaluating whether it was worth the trauma to my daughter. The laboratory didn’t have any other patients – fortunately! – and the technician there was incredibly calm. Abigail resisted but finally she decided to let us take the blood sample. And I think she was surprised how little it really hurt. And now I know what to do next time. We both learned. We both cried.

Walking back to the van, I bought some ibuprofen for children at the drug store. Abigail clutched her sticker collection, a gift from the laboratory. We passed a trio of high school girls singing “Silent Night” acapella: “Sleep in heavenly peace…” I needed to hear that. I think we both did.

The doctor just called to say I should give her the antibiotics since she does have a high white blood cell count. And bring her back next week….

Tags: family