Friday, April 9, 2010

Advice to all parents - or - how to make ER hate you and why that's a good thing

Ever heard the story of the 5 monkeys in the cage? You know the one where they try to climb up the steps to get the bananas and get sprayed with water? Well, unfortunately it's not too far from the truth, even in the medical profession. So, what's this got to do with why the ER hates us?
Well at some point in your life, you are going to have to make a trip to the ER. In our case, sometimes it's been because of true urgent situations and other times it's because our specialists need to run some tests on Piper and going through the ER is the easiest way (for them, not for us) to get admitted to a room. Now I don't know about you, but it can be a bit intimidating what with all the activity and official looking people taking temperatures, blood pressures, ordering tests, putting in IV's, etc. And unless you are a doctor, nurse, or been through this eleventy billion times (here!) you tend to believe that everything they are doing is necessary and vitally important. And why wouldn't you? These are trained medical professionals.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the ER for what seemed the 100th time. We started to ask the question, "why?". (I must give credit to my beautiful wife Belinda as she was the first to ask this question and informed me so with a text message while at work stating that, "the ER hates me.") Now, as the story goes Belinda took Piper to the ER, under the direction of our doctor, to have a nasal feeding tube inserted (NG tube) and for them to show us how to take the tube out and reinsert it, if necessary. So, after she gets to a waiting room in the ER a nurse enters, and what is the first thing she wants to do? Anyone? Bueller? That's right. She wants to put in an IV. And that's when Belinda asked "why?" This was a non-invasive procedure and she wasn't in any medical emergency, so why do you want to inflict pain on my baby, who's already going through enough of that, when it doesn't seem necessary.

Nurse, "It's our policy."
Belinda, "But we're only here for you to show us how to insert and use an NG tube."
Nurse, "Well it's just what the doctor order in the chart."
Belinda, "Well it doesn't seem necessary and I don't want you to do that."
Nurse, "uhhh, Ok. (visibly irritated). I guess I can go talk to the doctor and see if we really need to do this"
Belinda, "Thanks"

-- 5 min later --

Nurse, "I talked to the doctor and he said we don't need to do this."
Belinda, "Thanks. (a small victory smile appears)"

Later another nurse comes back and tries again, this time attempting to take her blood while she's asleep, but now we've seen the man behind the curtain. If it doesn't feel right in your gut, then challenge it, because if you won't nobody will. The nurse leaves without her blood.

Now, I could go on and on with all the different stories (like how we had our anesthesiologist replaced right before Piper's surgery), but I think you get the point. I guess the bottom line is, don't be afraid to ask "why" or say "no". Why are you doing this procedure? What is that medication you are giving her? Does she really need it? Why do you have to come in every 2 hours and wake her up to check on her? Make them explain to you why they are doing something and apply common sense. If it sounds okay, go with it, if not, ask more questions. They may get frustrated with you. They may start to hate you. But don't let that stop you, because in the end you are looking out for your child.

Lastly, please do not take this post as a bash on doctors, nurses and other medical professionals or the jobs they try to do. They perform a somewhat thankless job, where miracles are expected but rarely delivered. And even though they really are looking out for the best interests of your child, nobody's perfect, mistakes can be made, and you're the last line of defense for your child's welfare.

So thanks to all the doctors, nurses and medical professionals who have helped us along the way. You've taken an unbearable situation and made it barely tolerable.


  1. I am praying for you and your family. Your blogs have really had a profound affect on my own life and what is important. Thank you.

  2. Thanks for all the updates! You hit the nail on the head about ERs & hospital stays! Piper is blessed to have such wonderful parents.

  3. I couldnt agree more. My daughter was in the hospital having a g-tube and fundoplication done last week and before I left I made sure every nurse on the floor hated me and everyone knew my name :) Not just for giggles, they were ignoring my concerns and not listening, so just like Belinda, I had to go into Momma Lion Mode. So kudos to her!

    Piper and your family remain in my prayers!