I never gave much credit to “in the field training,” thinking that a degree or certificate of some sort truly qualified me to complete any kind of professional task – until I became a mom. Now, I feel extremely qualified to diagnose a variety of contagious or noncontagious diseases, while not owning a single piece of parchment that entitles me to do so. I refer to it as my “Dr. Mom” status, and I feel I should be able to throw that weight around with as much effectiveness as anything else.
I’ve mentioned my own clumsy nature, so I won’t revisit my knowledge of broken bones, stitches and things that aren’t supposed to tear. Let’s just say I came into motherhood a step ahead in injury knowledge. But, as a new mom, I was terrified at every sniffle or degree of raised temperature. I wasn’t exactly the mom that called the pediatrician every five minutes double checking symptoms, but I was the mom that wished I could be brave enough to be that annoying.
It didn’t take long to become an expert at checking for fever without any type of measuring device or to forsee the impossible future, diagnosing a cold “coming on” by watching my crawler zone out and start drooling to a Baby Einstein video. There were days I knew early in the evening I had a long night of walking and shuffling ahead as I tried to soothe an uncomfortable baby who just didn’t understand why the world seemed to hate him.
I won’t give a detailed account of my plentiful knowledge on stomach bugs. But trust me. I’m good at those, too.
However, looking back, I think my expertise was really sharpened when we battled our way through the first ear infection. I mistakingly bragged one day that my kids had survived without that curse, only to be at the doctor no less than one week later (no lie) with a toddler screaming because of a double ear infection. From that moment, we fell victim to repeated ear infections, swimmer’s ear, and other unpleasant snotty experiences. It was then I wished I could invent an at-home ear infection detection and treatment kit. (There’s my million dollars!)
After that, things seemed to snowball: breathing treatments, pneumonia, fifth disease, chicken pox (yes, we were vaccinated!), bronchiolitis, poison ivy, croop, etc. And then, our world was hit with HUS-Hemolytic Ureatic Syndrome, and we spent three weeks at Children’s Hospital in Dallas. Our learning curve skyrocketed exponentially at that point to include dialysis, anesthesia, PICC lines, blood testing, blood pressure and basic hospital lingo. We came out of each scenario as healthy as we entered, but the sickly process was messy. And I won’t lie – sometimes really scary. Looking back, above anything else, I think I learned to trust my gut. I guess it’s sometimes hard for everyone else to trust it, though.
Cut to this January, and my husband had an attack of his own gut – well, his gallbladder anyway. This time it was him I was rushing back and forth to doctors and emergency rooms – while reassuring him he was not dying. However, I was informing him of the research I had done on his symptoms and explaining to him not only my knowledge, but also the collective knowledge of my mom friends. We all diagnosed him with a gallbladder attack/surgery needed ASAP. He limped along with pain medication, anti-nausea medication, antacids and water until he agreed the emergency room was necessary. Diagnosis: bad gallbladder.
You might think I threw my weight around with my “I told you so” status, but I didn’t. I just added it to my r sum .
Dr. Mom, M.D.
Danielle Scroggins is a Decatur resident, Decatur High School graduate, teacher and mother of three. Life is Kids Stuff is a monthly column about kids, family and life in general.