Wednesday, May 19, 2010

strep, doctor's visits, and a sensory epiphany

Danny had strep throat this week, so he missed school on Monday and Tuesday, which gave me a little taste of what the summer has in store for us. And you know, aside from a doctor's visit, a bit of bickering between Char and Danny, and utter exhaustion on my part, it wasn't so bad.

I had the foresight on Monday to ask a friend to watch the other two, while I took Danny to the doctor. I knew from past experience that Danny doesn't always comply with the doctor's requests, and having Tommy and Charlotte hanging on me makes it really difficult to cajole any cooperation from Danny.

Danny did remarkably well, though, at least on the parts I thought would be most difficult. He gagged a bit on the strep test, but who doesn't, right? And he didn't seem that upset about it at all, which surprised me. After all, I think that strep swab is horrible. He also cooperated with getting his blood pressure taken, but he always does. I think he actually likes the deep pressure from the cuff, even though I always brace myself thinking this will be the time when he notices that it kind of hurts.

When the doctor came in to examine Danny, he had no problem with the throat exam. Even though a nurse had just gagged him with a swab not 10 minutes earlier, Danny was not at all reluctant to open his mouth for the doctor.

It was when Dr. C brought out the ear exam probe-light thingee (or in medical parlance, an otoscope) that it all went south.

Dr. C and I assured Danny that the ear exam wouldn't hurt, but Danny writhed and twisted out of our reach. He covered his ears and whined and complained. He did not want that thing in his ear. Dr. C reiterated that there would be no pain involved and said to me, "We need him to feel it and see that it doesn't hurt."

The thing is, Danny had had an ear infection just last month, when he fought the nurse practitioner for the very same reason. He KNEW exactly what the ear exam felt like. And he didn't care that it supposedly doesn't hurt.

See, the thing with Danny is he doesn't have a problem with pain. He had a swollen throat covered in pus and he still ate all his meals this week. What he has a problem with is tickling. Give him a shot or scrape his sore throat with a swab? Yeah, he can so totally deal with that. But put something near his ear and he freaks like he is being tortured. Which in a way is probably what it feels like to him.

So, why was I holding Danny down repeating to him, "It doesn't hurt, Danny, it won't hurt at all"? Why did I think I could talk him out of his sensitivities? And why was I assuming he was afraid of the possibility of pain?

Because that is what I would be afraid of in a doctor's office. I have a problem with pain, not tickling, so I was reassuring Danny in a way that would be soothing to me, not to Danny.

Which is why it so obviously was not working.

Why is it so easy for me to overlook that my kids are unique individuals and that what I find difficult may be easy for them? Just because I happen to think the swab in the throat is vile, doesn't mean Danny (or Charlotte or Tommy, for that matter) will have a problem with it. On the other hand, a procedure I find totally benign can seem terrible to them, and that is just as valid a reaction as mine is. I find myself at times trying to argue my kids out of their feelings, which is such a waste of time.

And I should definitely quit anticipating what might go wrong. I think it is wise to be prepared, but sometimes I work myself up over something that ends up being a piece of cake. A perfect example of this occurred in March. Danny was really constipated and the doctor told me to give him two enemas in a 24-hour period.

Yes, two enemas.

OK, I will admit here that on the way to the pharmacy, I freaked out a little. How in the world was I going to administer an ENEMA??? I myself had never had one (thank goodness) but I knew people who had and they told ghastly stories about them. Even my mom was shaken when I called to tell her what I had to do.

"You have to give him an enema?" she asked. "Oh, Patty, I wish I was there to help!"

I didn't think it was irrational of me to believe that this procedure was not going to be pretty. What kid cooperates with a syringe being stuck up his bottom? Isn't this why they invented ear thermometers, so moms wouldn't have to take a temp anally?

On the way home from Walgreens (where I forked over a couple bucks for enemas and about $10 for chocolate. I had a feeling I would need some by the time this night was over), I spent our car ride explaining to Danny that he would have to have medicine put in his behind to help him poop. I also told him he could watch whatever video he wanted if he cooperated. He was nonplussed as he said, "Hmmm... mom, that sounds like it will feel weird."

Danny wanted to get started as soon as we got home so he could watch Thomas. So, I had him get on his hands and knees in the bathroom. Excited, Danny noted that it was like the tornado drills at school.

I explained what I would have to do and told him to hold still. Bracing myself for his complaints, cries, anger, and writhing, I started administering the enema.

What was my boy's response?

He giggled.

He giggled and said that it tickled.

Then, it was all done.

The next afternoon, on the way home from school, I informed Danny that we needed to do another enema once we got home. Upon arriving home, Danny disappeared. I assumed it was because he didn't want another enema. I called him to come back so I could give him his "medicine."

Danny yelled from the other room, "Not right now, mommy. I have to go poop!"

And once he was done, he was all set for the next enema. Of course, he didn't need another one, which was a relief to me. Still, I couldn't help but be amazed that my son not only cooperated for one enema, but was willing to undergo another one the next day. It didn't faze him in the least.

If only he could respond to haircuts the same way.


Sarah said...

It really is amazing what these little creatures can do isn't it? Jack has the same issue with the "ear thing" too---and I reminded each time we go to the doctor's how difficult things can be. Danny is so lucky to have you Patty :)

Ginny Marie said...

I always forget to view things from my kids point of view, and it gets me in trouble! When I remember what it was like to be a kid myself, I find that I feel like a better mother to my girls.

And oh, I'm so sorry you had to give him a enema! But at least he pooped!

Alysia said...

I just had a similar experience last week at the doctor. Usually our visits are fine, but this time my little guy got really nervous about the doctor looking in his ears. I told him she was just going to check his tummy (we were in for the opposite problem that you needed the enema for!) but when she asked to check his ears, he freaked out. Climbed on my lap, started making all sorts of noise, and kept asking for hugs.
I forget to take a step back and look at things through his eyes. Thanks for reminding me I'm not alone!

Anonymous said...

My kids ALWAYS hated having strep swabs.

I have an award for you on my blog.

danette said...

Poor guy... I hope he's feeling better.

I kwym, so often the things I worry will bother my boys turn out to be no big deal, and the things I thought would be no big deal turn out to be worse than expected.