Doctors who listen . . . and those who don’t

I had a doctor tell me recently that I was becoming quite the “Doctor Mom.” Although he said this to be funny, I knew at that moment I had landed squarely in the camp of moms who think they know everything because they have access to Google.

I admit it. I am that mom. My husband loves to browse through my search history, which usually goes something like this: fever, rash, contagious rash, dangerous rash, death by rash.

Yes, I am a bit of a freak-out when it comes to my children’s health. I jump from cold to life-threatening illness quickly. Usually I can placate myself, wait out the fever and avoid the 2 a.m. call to the doctor.

But in the last year, I have become the “Doctor Mom” that most doctors hate to see coming through the door. My daughter got a series of mysterious bumps on her leg last year that never went away. They itched so badly that she essentially scratched all her skin off if I didn’t apply steroid cream around the clock.

Nine months, three doctors, one biopsy and one visit to a dermatology panel at the National Institute of Health later, we still didn’t have an answer. Several doctors passed us off to other doctors. One doctor told me that she might just be a “rashy kid.” Is that the technical term, doctor?

So when I met with my most recent doctor, I had just about given up hope that the medical community could help us. My daughter was miserable and so was I. But this doctor was different. When I pulled out my list of what I thought her bumps could be, he didn’t scoff. He didn’t dismiss me because I don’t have a medical degree. He went through each one and explained why it couldn’t be that one or why it might be this one.

After talking with me and performing a biopsy, he gave me what I so desperately wanted: an answer. Basically, she is allergic to insect bites and her body is still reacting to initial bites from last summer. While she will continue to struggle, at least it is an answer.

I can stop Googling her symptoms. I can stop staying up at night worrying and feeling like I can’t help my child.  I can stop feeling like the crazy mom who is determined something is hurting her child. This doctor’s five minutes of sincere concern and attention made all the difference.

My experience has made me both love and hate doctors. I hate the ones who discredited me as an overly neurotic mother. And I love the ones who showed love to us by listening, worrying with me and believing that as a mother, I actually might have some intuition about my child — even if I am just “Doctor Mom.”

Have you ever felt like you had to be the “Doctor Mom”? Did the way doctors treated you and your child make a difference?

3 comments

  1. cagesjamtoo (aka Sam)

    The more I go to doctors, the more I realize that they are just educated guessers. They have to balance between being thorough and not making everything look life threatening. This is good and bad, but does help me look at what they are doing and not completely go insane when I have to visit them.

    My favorite experience as Dr. Mom was after #5 was born and we were out of town. She had thrush. I knew it and I needed a prescription. I called my dr and he trusted me as a mother of now 5 children and called in the prescription. It was awesome!

    I have learned that if you think something is wrong and needs to be pursued that you should pursue it until you are satisfied. I love that you found a dr that would sit and help you through your concerns. Good luck.

  2. Momof7

    I think what every pediatrician out there needs to realize and most do is that we as the mother live with our children. We know when they are miserable. I hold my babies all day long. I know when they have a fever just by touch. I don’t need a thermometer to diagnose a fever. Yes, I know a thermometer is necessary to see if it is a low grade fever or more severe but I was so glad years ago when I had a N.P. who told me my kiss the forehead method was pretty accurate. Sometimes after several sleepless nights, we just need a doctor to kindly tell us that our baby is going to be fine. As our children get older, sometimes they need to have a doctor tell them they will be fine. My 16 year old recently broke his tailbone. He complained almost non stop till the pediatrician told him that most likely your coccyx is fractured. He explained as I’d already done that there really is no treatment. I haven’t heard my son complain since. A doctor with great bedside manners is the best. Quite frankly, I appreciate the doctor who honestly says that they don’t really know what the problem is and refers us to a specialist.

  3. Natalie

    Our doctor’s office knows us as the family who only comes in for the annual checkup. The main pediatrician was the only person our daughter didn’t cry for when she was born, aside from me and her father. That’s why we chose him. He listened to every concern, answered my questions and always asked the kids if they had any questions. My favorite visit was when my son had double ear infections but the doctor admitted he couldn’t tell if it was the beginning or the end, so he gave m a prescription but told me to wait a day to fill it. Sure enough, the next day it had cleared up.

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