I’m Still Not Sure When To Take My Kids To The Doctor

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I’ve been a parent for almost four years now. I have two young children who have been through all manner of common illnesses, and I’m still not sure what warrants a trip to the doctor. I have no idea if I am the paranoid mom the doctor laughs at, or the one who is bordering on neglect. Why is it so hard to figure this basic parenting skill out? What warrants a trip to the doctor?

I wrote a post years ago about taking my one-year-old to the emergency room because he fell, smacked his head on the corner of a nesting table, and started to swell and bleed profusely. The cut was so close to his eye, I was truly worried. What I learned after that incident was that eye cuts bleed a lot and also swell pretty quickly. A two hour emergency room wait culminated in the doctor telling us he basically had an ‘abrasion.’ No stitches needed. Not even a fucking band-aid needed, honestly. By the time we saw a doctor the bleeding had ended obviously. Someone in the comment section of that story mentioned that I was an idiot who needed first aid skills. Yes! I agree – I am an idiot who needs first-aid skills, but even if I had them at the time I think I still would be wondering whether a bleeding swollen eye warranted a trip to the ER. And I probably still would have erred on the side of, “yes.”

A few months after that incident, my son had a fever which subsided and turned into what appeared to be a common cold. Then a cough surfaced. I called the doctor’s office and was told if it didn’t stop in 10 days to come in. I called for an appointment the next day, because something about his cough just didn’t sound “right.” It turns out he had walking pneumonia. I felt like the paranoid mom bringing him in -but then I was glad that I did.

The thing is, almost every time I’ve brought my kids in they have needed antibiotics. But once when my daughter ran a fever for four days and I subjected her to a blood test which involved going into the little vein in her arm with a needle – it turned out to be nothing but a virus. Last night my son was up with a horrible cough almost all night which completely vanished by morning. Seriously parents – how do you figure this stuff out without completely going crazy?

Please tell me the answer to that question is that you don’t and you go as crazy as I do – or I’m going to feel like a total paranoid failure.

(photo: Mega Pixel/ Shutterstock)