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5 things I'd have liked to tell my son's paediatrician

Aug 17, 2015

When Oliver had fever for the first time, after a day and a half of 39 °C, I decided to take him to the paediatrician and had one of those "never trust anybody—not even doctors" experiences I very much hate.

The paediatrician visits him and confirms that ears, mouth and chest are fine. We need to exclude a urinary tract infection.

"It's a very easy and painless procedure. We put a catheter up the penis to take a pee sample from the bladder."
"That does not sound painless to me! I'll have to think about it. I'll be outside feeding him."

I google the procedure. Many parents confirm my first feeling and describe it as, extremely painful, screamed to the top of his lungs, if they tell you it's not painful they have no idea what they're talking about. I also find another procedure that consists in attaching a bag around the penis, wait for the baby to pee, transfer the pee with a syringe to a container and analyse it. Now, this is painless. I decide to ask the doctor.

"Can you use the bag instead?"
"Yes, but it's as painful as the catheter because it's taped onto the skin. Anyway, they only cry because you hold their legs and they don't like it."
[I'd have liked to tell him, "Ok, let's first try the catheter on you, and if it doesn't you—you big guy who can rationalise pain—then I might consider doing it on my two-month-old son"]
"No, I prefer the bag, thank you."
"But it's not reliable. And if the result is positive we anyway have to redo the test with a catheter."
"But if it's negative, then there's no need for the catheter, is there?"

I shut him up and he introduces me to the nurse with a "this is the mum who doesn't want the catheter" and a look that says "these new mums who think they know more than us". Long story short, we use the bag, it works perfectly and the result is negative. No need for a stupid and painful catheter.

So these are 5 things I'd have liked to tell the paediatrician:

  • I was right, na-na-na-na-na!
  • Your job is to help the patient in the least invasive way possible. If you give me a dictionary, I'll show you what "invasive" means.
  • I come to you because you're supposed to help my son, not to judge me as a mother.
  • You paediatrician should stop once and for all to tell parents what hurts and what doesn't hurt our children. For tow reasons: 1. You don't know it, even I don't know it because in case you haven't noticed, babies can't tell us. 2. Because everybody has a different pain threshold.
  • Believe it or not, very often we modern parents know more than you when it comes to our babies' health. Because we have the whole internet with millions of experiences and diagnosis and symptoms at our fingertips. But mostly, because, unlike you, we care.

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