Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Great Fever Saga (Spring 2012 edition)

My daughter has a cold.

OK, a bad one. She went to see the doctor on Friday to get her sling off (she fell off the couch a few weeks ago and broke her collar bone...aren't four-year-olds fun?), and she had a slight fever. The doc said her ears looked a little red, and if the fever lasted until Monday she should come in and get checked out for an ear infection.

The weekend went by, and by Monday morning she was bright and chipper. So, off she went to daycare like a little trooper with a snotty nose.

Then BAM! The phone call came just before 4:00. She had woken up from nap time with a fever of 102. So, off I went to save her (and subsequently found out that earlier in the day she had face planted and got a bloody nose...unrelated incident, but the broken collar bone had apparently reduced her willingness to use her hands to break her fall. I'm guessing she's learned that using your face is not a viable alternative).

I gave her a shot of Tylenol and kept an eye on her, but by 7:00 she was up to 103.8. That's...kinda high. So, following doctor's orders, we went to the hospital (since the actual doctor's office was now closed), thinking there might be some hidden infection.

By the time we got there the fever was easing slightly from some extra Advil. The nurse was kind enough to keep an eye on her in the waiting room, but by the end of about three hours the only real recommendation seemed to be increasing her doses of both Tylenol and Advil to aggressively keep the fever under control. So, having already committed to $8.00 in parking, I decided to use their Advil before going home and putting her to bed. The instructions: if it comes back up tomorrow, go straight to the walk-in clinic or her doctor's office.

I spent the night up every couple of hours administering medicine. By morning, her fever had clearly broken. Her temperature was down to 94.3, which is pretty typical for a fever break. She was a little dopey for the first part of the day, but I kept her at home just the same.

Good thing. Mid-afternoon, she crashed on the couch and woke up guessed it...a temperature pushing 102 again. This time she was in hysterics, totally unsure what to do with herself. She had no idea what she wanted or didn't want. And it was getting worse. So, since it was pushing 4:00 again, I decided the walk-in would be a more likely bet than the doctor's office.

No dice. The walk-in was also closed. Taking all this into consideration, I elected to go back to the hospital.

The wait time in triage wasn't all that bad, but the nurse wanted a urine sample to see if maybe there was a bladder infection (she apparently neglected to put the coughing and runny nose on the report). Thing is, four-year-olds don't like to pee on command. And they really don't like to do it into a cup. She faked me out once ("Daddy I have to pee..." try...try...try... "I don't have to pee." Gah!), but about two hours into our residency she managed to produce a good sample.

This went into the nurse's urine sample collection box (who knew...there's an interesting niche market design concept, eh?), and we sat back to wait for a doctor. Of course, by this point her fever had all but disappeared from the first round of medicine I gave her, but she entertained herself with some colouring and a dose of Treehouse on the lobby TV.

An hour and a half later I walked by the triage nurse's desk and saw that the sample still had not been picked up. Of course I barked about this. I understand busy, and I get that a kid with no current signs of a dangerous fever will get bumped down the list behind the kid with the broken arm and the two or three helicopters that had come in during our stay. But come can pick up the damn sample and at least get that underway!

Finally we got called in, and we didn't have to wait long to see an actual doctor. Unfortunately, he was clearly overworked and already pissy about having to tend to every snotty nose in the county. When he found out that my daughter had a cough and congestion, he closed his chart and said, "Oh, well that's obvious then. She has a cold. And kids with colds get fevers. We only do urine tests if it's not obviously upper respiratory."

Uh huh. So...the fact that her fever has lasted five days isn't alarming?

"Nope. She doesn't even look sick. They don't worry about infection unless it goes on for two or three weeks."

Uh huh. So...I'm just following her doctor's orders and bringing her in when it doesn't go down.

"Yeah. Parents tend to overreact with fevers. Just take her home, put her to bed, keep giving her medicine to keep it under control. OK, you can go now."

Wow...did I feel like an asshole for wasting that guy's precious time. I suspect the string of professionals before him didn't give any consideration to how much of my precious time I spent sitting around the waiting room at the hospital on their advice.

A lot of people have said I did the right thing, going to the hospital and having her checked out just in case. But from my perspective, I would really like it if doctors and nurses all got together and read the same guide books in terms of what to do in a situation like this. Several layers of conflicting advice does not make for a smooth treatment process for the young patient and the patient's impatient father.

They're right, of course. It's worth going just to be sure. But I probably should have trusted my gut instinct and said to myself, "self, you know this is a fever, and you know it's from the cold. And you know that in a few days if you just keep it down with Tylenol and Advil she'll be fine."

I took her to daycare again today. No fever for the first half of the day, and no phone call yet. We may be past the worst of it; it may come back after nap time. Either way, at least I know what to do with it if they do call.

And I got a nap this morning to catch up.

1 comment:

  1. You didn't do anything wrong when it came to her health. The funny thing is if you had not gone through this ordeal, you might have been labelled as an uncaring parent. I just feel for doctors and nurses who have to deal professionally with people who act like children who want their parents to whisk life's bad stuff away from life with a wave of their magic wand. I didn't say you did, but you did write about a doctor being pissy from dealing with snot-nosed customers looking for the miracle cure. I find that certain television shows have really given the wrong impression about how people in the medical field work. In the real world, when people walk into the office complaining about a headache, the medical official has to ask questions before prescribing something that MAY work; it could be stress, it could be apnea, it could be a tumour. That's why there's no one answer a person can take home, especially in this day and age of accountability being right through the roof. If you're a doctor and you're wrong about're screwed. Meanwhile, if someone were to walk into sickbay on the S. S. Enterprise, doctors wave a little light at them and say, "Oh, you have pneumonia." Is this what we've come to? When pre-service doctors and nurses have to start tacking on, "3 years experience as a miracle worker," on their resumes, just because of how they look and act on television? Not to mention how common people can tell off medical professionals (again on TV) because they don't agree with the protocol that was put there for a reason, many times to protect people's welfare. Now they turn around and talk the same bullshit that some actor said to another actor because the producers stated, "This is what common folk like to watch: the common man telling off the educated man." Well doctors and nurses are people too. Sadly, they're all painted with the same brush.