When to Call the Doctor

10 Feb

Equipmentphoto by trp0


I wish so much that we could return to the days when you could call your doctor’s office and they would give you some ideas of things to try at home. Of course, they’d also tell you what to watch for that would mean you needed to see the doctor, but they weren’t afraid to give you advice over the phone. Maybe they were even trying to prevent too many people from coming in the office for simple things that didn’t really require a doctor.

Now, you can pretty much bet that when you call the doctor’s office, a nurse might talk to you a little bit but odds are fairly good that they’re going to conclude by saying, “We really need to see her in the office.” As a parent, you obviously want to do what’s best for your kiddo, so, even if you have some doubts about the necessity of a doctor visit, you take them in “just to be safe.” If you’re like me, there’s also at least a little bit of the worry that if you DON’T take them in, either a.) you’ll be branded a “bad” parent by the doctor’s office or b.) the worst case scenario will pan out & your kiddo will suffer unnecessarily. Ugh. I’m sure that this is a result of our tendency as a nation to scream “law suit” at any little thing, and I can hardly blame the doctors for wanting to protect themselves. I think it’s yet another case where our abuse of a system that was meant to protect us is actually ending up hurting us more than it helped. Just my opinion. What’s the fix? I wish I knew.

I’m thinking about all of this today because we’ve been having some issues with Jenna’s g-tube feedings. Last week, I started having trouble pushing her formula in via syringe & g-tube. It would go in smoothly for a bit, then suddenly I wasn’t able to push the syringe any further at all. Here are the factors I considered:

  • It was a new homemade food recipe that seemed to be thicker. Watered it down – still had the problem.
  • It only happened when using the homemade formula (not with packaged formula in feeding pump). Tried running it through blender again – still had the problem.
  • Her button was due for a change. Changed that – still had problem.

Now, today, Jenna actually complained that it “hurt inside” her tummy when I pushed harder on the syringe. She’s never complained of discomfort before. She didn’t seem in any kind of serious distress, and as soon as I quit pushing, she said it stopped hurting. Still…….my mama brain went into overdrive, considering all the possibilities and worst case scenarios. Her stomach was soft, not hot to the touch and not distended. I got out the stethoscope to listen, and all gut sounds seemed normal. Her button site looks fine and the button still turns freely/easily.  Hmmm…. Here’s where I start wondering about calling the doctor. The problem is, I’m absolutely certain they’ll tell me to bring her in so they can see her gastronomy site in person, the office is a 6-hour round trip journey, an office visit is expensive, and I’m just not positive it’s necessary. *sigh*

Can you here my brain spinning? Seriously. My brain is almost always thinking about Jenna stuff. The thought train goes something like this (buckle in – it’s a bumpy ride in my brain):

therapy: are we doing enough at home? what else do i need to be working on? how are her fine motor skills doing? *did she poop yet today* how are her gross motor skills doing? why is she toe-walking again? how do i need to address that? her grip strength doesn’t seem to be getting any better. she’s having a sensory-seeking day today. how is her core strength and balance? what can i get her interested in eating orally today? what kind of incentives will help encourage her? how much should i push oral feeds? how many calories has she had today? how much water did she drink today? *is she wheezing?* i need to get the stethoscope out and listen to her lungs. did i give her her meds yet? does she need an inhaler dose? are her retractions a little deeper today? when was the last time we changed her button?……

You get the idea. It NEVER. ENDS. When something comes up like it did today (and the past week), my brain goes into hyperdrive. It makes me weary. And I worry.

I came up with a plan while in the shower this afternoon. I always feel better when I have a plan, and the shower weirdly seems like a good place for making one. I decided to try blending this batch of food AGAIN, warming it a bit more and thinning it a little more. We’re almost through this batch and I’ll make a new one tomorrow or the next day. I’ll go back to the recipe I know we didn’t have a problem with and see if that makes a difference. After searching online a bit, I also learned that when I feel that resistance in the syringe, I should try pulling back a little bit and then pushing again. We’ll give that a shot as well. If, after all those changes, we still have trouble, I’ll call the doc. OF COURSE, if she complains more of pain or I notice any other gut symptoms we always watch for, I’ll call the doc immediately.

Whew. It feels good to have a plan, but my brain is still whirring and I’m still worrying. At least I slowed it down a little bit. I think.

How about you? When do you call the doctor? How long do you feel is OK to wait? Do you experience the same frustrations with calling the doctor’s office? And is your brain going a thousand miles an hour, too??

Update: We haven’t been having any additional problems, so I’m assuming the problem was with the thickness of that batch of food. Yay! Glad we didn’t make a 6 hour trip to and from the doctor.


Posted by on February 10, 2011 in G-tube issues, Health, Jenna, Special Needs


Tags: , , , ,

10 responses to “When to Call the Doctor

  1. Beth

    February 10, 2011 at 5:18 am

    We had this discussion Sunday night after Lauren’s accident. She hit her head, a few hours later, started puking. I wanted to take her in, nurse line said take her in (of course), but Tim didn’t think anything was wrong.

    Well, I took her in. The ambulance guys didn’t believe me. The nurses didn’t believe me. The doctor didn’t believe me. So we went home.

    I always get more worried with Lauren, rather than Avery, but if something were to happen, and I stayed home, well, who wants to live with that guilt?

    I will admit that I am quick to go to the doctor. Lauren has medicaid, so I don’t have to worry about cost. I realize most people don’t have that. Our regular dr though, is great about not making me feel stupid for bringing her in.

    Go with it. You are a great mom!

    (Wow, this was long, sorry 🙂 )

  2. Barbara

    February 10, 2011 at 5:59 am

    I won’t even try to claim I think as fast as you…;) But in the circumstance of suspicious symptoms in our child – much the same spin in my brain.

    Seems like everything you said in the first paragraph now occurs by reading online. No?

    As a Mom I am encouraged by how you came full circle with your thought process – making a decision (or algorithm) for when to call the doctor. The ability to do that comes with experience, I think.

  3. PsychMamma

    February 10, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Beth –

    It’s often so hard to know what to do. So glad it “just” ended up being the flu for Lauren! I think the key, as parents, is really to follow our gut with a good dose of common sense reasoning. Easy in theory – harder to practice. I do know that the longer I’m a mama, the more comfortable I am with doing it & trusting myself. It’s never easy, tho!

  4. PsychMamma

    February 10, 2011 at 8:44 am

    Barbara –

    Thanks for your vote of confidence! Makes me feel a little better coming from a veteran mama!

    As for the online answers to medical questions, I’d agree that it’s a wonderful, ready reference, but I still think nothing beats the advice of the caregiver that knows your kiddo (and you!) and can respond specifically. Since they don’t do it over the phone anymore, the internet IS my recourse. Frustratingly, the doctors who won’t answer questions over the phone & demand office visits also reprimand me for seeking medical advice from the internet. *sigh*

  5. punkinmama

    February 11, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    One of the things I really love about Punkin’s pediatrician (that took us forever to find, because the first few peds were not good) is that she has a call-in time in the morning at her home before office hours. Meaning, I can call her, SHE will answer directly, I can tell her what’s going on, and she can respond. Sure, it still often means having to take him into the office later, but if she has any ideas about non-serious stuff, she will tell you over the phone. I know that’s rare and I am so blessed to have found her.

    But without that, I think your thought process was perfect and you came to the best solution. Hope it worked!

  6. PsychMamma

    February 12, 2011 at 12:25 am

    Punkinmama –

    That is one AWESOME pediatrician! So glad you found someone so wonderful!

    We haven’t had any more problems since I tried my “fixes,” so I really think it was something about that batch of food. Fingers crossed!

  7. Lisa

    March 8, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    My thought train sounds exactly the same as yours! Exactly…
    I know I’m way behind in my blog reading, but I just thought would give you another vote of confidence. I would have done the same thing!

  8. PsychMamma

    March 8, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Lisa –

    I always love a vote of confidence! And it’s good to know my crazy thought train isn’t the only one chugging along. Hehe!

  9. Brandis

    March 14, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    I stumbled across your blog and I’m so glad I did! I have a 16 month old with GI problems who is 100% tube dependent (GJ tube) and has also been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and sensory processing disorder. I kind of laughed when I read your little thought process because I have that same train running through my head all the time. 🙂

  10. PsychMamma

    March 15, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Brandis –

    I’m so glad you found me, too! As soon as Jenna heads down for a nap, I’m heading over to your site to read your story. And, it’s always nice to know my “brain train” has company. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: