Last weekend my almost 7-year-daughter calmly stated while playing on the computer, “You know, Mom, my ears hurt.”
Not one to overdramatize being sick, I knew that chances of her having an ear infection after having a nasty cold all week were probably pretty great. I was not comfortable waiting until Monday to see a doctor because ear infections can become very painful. I packed up an activity bag and headed out to the pediatric after-hours clinic at the hospital that our doctor prefers. However, when we entered the tiny, non-ventilated waiting room, it was filled with glassy-eyed kids that looked like they were suffering with flu-like symptoms.
I decided to take her to a drug store medical clinic where I felt they could easily prescribe the correct antibiotics. That was not the case when the nurse practitioner urged us to go to the ER for an elevated heart rate.
When we arrived at the ER, I just had this nagging feeling that we did not belong there. Extremely sick people that where vomiting and hacking up a lung were everywhere. My daughter did not have that glazed-over sickly look that everyone else seemed to have. I wanted to leave because it was obvious that she was not sick enough to qualify for an ER visit.
Yet if something, indeed, was wrong with her heart and I denied her medical care, I would never forgive myself. I felt so conflicted.
When my daughter was finally examined by the pediatric nurse practitioner, I felt that someone was actually listening to me when I said that I didn’t feel my daughter was sick enough to be in the ER. She agreed as she told me her heart was fine and and blood pressure was normal. She assured me that since she had not been diagnosed with a congenital heart condition, she would not have spontaneously developed one. She also wrote my daughter a different prescription for antibiotics, noting that the kind the other nurse practitioner at the drug store clinic had prescribed would not heal an ear infection.
I am reeling from this experience. My job is to protect my daughter, and I felt like I was floundering between the drug store clinic’s suggestion and the ER staff that didn’t seem like they were listening to me. My instincts were telling me to leave the ER, but if I had, she would not have been given the proper medication (although I would have touched base with my pediatrician the next day). I am embarrassed that my daughter saw me question my instincts and was unsure of how to proceed. I am angry that I trusted the wrong person who sent us to the ER in a panic trip. It’s one of those mom fail moments that seem to reiterate the feeling that I have no idea what I am doing.
Have you ever doubted your instincts in the face of experts?