Warning, someone cries in this post but it is not a child.
Like I told y'all, Hank was sort of sickish on Thursday, then Friday morning he rallied, and then Friday afternoon he got warmer and droopy-eyed, and he said his ear hurt again. I scooped him up and drove right up the road to the CVS Minute Clinic. I had never thought to go there before, but a couple of people said it was a good quick alternative. And at 4:00 on a Friday afternoon, I didn't think the pediatrician was a feasible thing.
Let's put it mildly and say that Hank did not want to go to the doctor. He kept saying, so earnestly, "Look, I'm all better!" So I spent a lot of parent trust capital on telling him, this will not take too long and nothing bad will happen. By the time we got to the CVS, he was resigned. We checked in at the little computer and we were sixth in line. Whoa, where did all these people come from? But I didn't know how quickly it might move, and we sat down to wait.
Hank played Angry Birds on my iPhone for a while. As we sat there, I could tell his fever was going up. He said, "Mom, I'm one hundred percent fine!" I gave him a drink. He grew more sluggish. Then he sat in my lap. Then he fell asleep. The nurse practitioner would call each person in and give apologetic smiles to everyone waiting.
We waited an hour and ten minutes. It didn't even seem that long, to me. You know how, sometimes when you're doing something for your kid or waiting for something your kid needs, the passing of time barely registers? I just sat there in the chair, leaned against the glass-doored cooler, and held him.
Finally they called us in. I woke him up to walk into the room, where he immediately climbed up on the vinyl bench and lay down. The nurse's assistant took his temperature, and it was 103. She glanced at the nurse and took it again. 103. The nurse said, "Oh, when their fever is 103 or higher, it's an automatic refer-out. We can't treat him."
I just looked at her, like I didn't understand what she was saying. Because I didn't. She actually reached up and took a binder off of a shelf, and looked up the relevant policy. "Yes, I'm sorry, it's 103. You have to take him to urgent care."
I said, "You can't even look in his ear?" I was kind of in shock. They were apologetic. I said, "How long is urgent care going to take?" That sounds like I was irritated, but it was an honest question, I was totally confused and tired. There was some hemming/hawing. The nurse phoned the urgent care down the street and reported that they had only two people waiting.
I said, "Okay Hank, we are going to have to go to one more doctor." And he pleaded, "Oh mom, can we go home for just a little bit first?" And I started to cry.
It surprised me, and it certainly surprised the other two women. I have been in a lot of doctor's offices this year, and I've gotten some bad news at different times, but I never cried in someone's office, not one time. Not the first time. Until I was in the dumb CVS with the feverish and miserable Hank. I just felt like he had been so patient and trusting, and what I had told him about making one stop had been a lie. I hated it. I would indeed have taken him home, except by then I was actually worried about him.
I said, "I could have dosed him up with Tylenol when we checked in here an hour ago, and then his fever wouldn't have been 103 right now." And they acknowledged that this was the case.
There's one lesson learned. I understand why they have that policy, but I think that they might post it somewhere in the waiting area so that people do not wait over an hour with a sick child who then cannot be diagnosed or treated. They then gave me a $5/15 coupon.
So I took Hank by the hand and we left the office. I'm sure the people in the waiting area looked at my face and wondered what terrible event had just befallen us. I walked straight to the shelf and got some acetaminophen and made Hank eat it, then I paid for it and some Gatorade at the back counter. The always-odd pharmacy clerk who rang me up pointed out to me that she had swiped a CVS card and saved me $1.99. I thanked her and told her I didn't know where my CVS card was. She said, "Yes, if I hadn't done that it would have cost you $1.99 more." Then I killed her, killed her dead with a terrible glare from my terrible eyes and I left the whole store a smoldering ruin.
In the car, I got busy soothing Hank and explaining how we had to just go see one more doctor, one more place and they would give him medicine to make him feel better. Yes, honey, I know you feel fine but I don't think you really are fine. (He did not feel fine.) He said, "Mom, why were you crying? Would you please stop crying?" I told him that I had felt frustrated but that everything was totally okay and that I was sorry that it scared him. He said, "That's okay, Mom."
So we get to the urgent care place and we get back into an exam room pretty quickly. The guy who took our history was pretty good and he listened to what I said. Hank's temp was still 103, but was starting to perk up, even that fast, from the Tylenol. Then the doctor came in and kind of overreacted to the 103 number. She retook all of the same history and asked me the same question a couple of times without hearing my answer. I told her, "Yes, whenever our family gets a cold virus, which most of us have right now, it seems that Hank spikes a fever that lasts about 36 hours." I was not that worried by the high number--to me the number, especially with a rapid onset like that, is not the worrying sign that I look for.
She looked him over and said, "Both his ears are red." By then he was active and talking. She said, "He looks good, but the numbers don't look good."
And here's where the visit changed for me: She said, "Would he let us draw his blood?"
I didn't like that question or the terms in which it was asked. Like, well do you need to take his blood? Because if it is necessary, we will do it. Is it necessary or not? Tell me that you need it and I will make it okay. But by asking that question in that manner, I felt that she was willing to exploit the fact of a child's good-natured compliance with being in the doctor's office, for uncertain necessity. If Hank had been raising hell the whole time instead of chatting up the medical assistant, that issue would not have been raised in that way, I don't think. And I didn't think they were equipped to do a blood draw in the painless way they do at the children's hospital. This unfolded in my head in about half a second.
I said, "Well is there a good reason for you to do it?" And she said, "Why don't we just treat him for the ears and see how he does?" I said, "Yes, let's do that." She went away.
I always have great relationships with doctors, both mine and my kids. But the scenario had shifted into one where I felt I now had to put myself in between Hank and the staff there, like, to protect him, ironically. This may have been an overreaction in itself, but I was in a fragile state. Hank, though, was rapidly becoming more fine.
The doc came back in and said, "They can do a CBC with just a finger stick, can we do that?" I said okay, and Hank was not thrilled when that happened, not at all, but he recovered once he had a giant band-aid. His temp was down to 101 and he was watching Clone Wars on the little TV. We waited some more.
The doctor came back in and said his white count was 13, which isn't that elevated if at all, and would he let them give him a shot of rocephin in the butt? At the word "shot," Hank began to very clearly say that he does not like shots. And my face must have told her that I didn't either, and she gave us a prescription for Augmentin and told me to bring him back in the next day if he wasn't better.
By the time we got to Publix to get the prescription filled, three hours after our odyssey began, Hank was way chipper and only I was left feeling slightly bruised by the afternoon's events. The experience in CVS was a real low point.
Another bit of useful info: Augmentin is not one of the antibiotics that Publix gives out for free, as it is compounded of birds' nests and wizard's tears, and in fact it will cost $61. But one dose of that and he was put right. He went on to have a brilliant weekend and we are all getting over the crying portion of the day. The day started with Laura's lovely curls and ended with a thankfully-more-comfortable Hank, with a lot of living in between.
Surely nobody is still reading this but if you are, thank you, I think I just needed to tell someone all that.