“You’d hate for her to wake up dead.” Who would be so clueless, heartless, out of touch and sick to say this to a terrified parent about her injured 4-year-old? A teenager, a drunk or a serial killer? Nope, my own pediatrician. Those were the soothing, well-thought-out, medical school educated words of advice that my child’s doctor offered to me when I called her as a last resort on a Saturday night. Hey, those letters M and D after her name aren’t there for nothing!
My beloved daughter had suffered a horrible fall down a flight of uncarpeted stairs the night before and after about 24 hours, she was complaining of some rib pain. The bigger concern was that she’d hit her head and seemed tired now. My husband assured me that she was indeed just tired, but my obsessive, over-reactive, paranoid, hypochondriac personality begged to differ. I worried that she was experiencing a late-onset head trauma. Of course not being a doctor I didn’t even know if this was possible, but then again, I also falsely believed that one could not wake up dead. Silly me!
So, I called the pediatrician’s office and the on-call doctor urged me to take her to the emergency room. Sound advice perhaps but her delivery was less than desirable. I heard nothing after her caution that my daughter could wake up dead. My heart was in my throat, thumping uncontrollably. I had trouble swallowing. I felt sick to my stomach. I felt faint. I felt woozy. Gosh, I hope I wasn’t about to drop dead from the shock of her thoughtless declaration.
“What a jerk!” my mom texted me upon learning of the pediatrician’s comment. I think a more apt way of putting it is, “What a joke!” I won’t be taking my daughter back to this pediatrician’s office. Her scare tactic has worked in a way, because I’ll be making myself scarce…when it comes to giving her my business.
Perhaps my need to experience some remnant of a bedside manner in this day and age is unrealistic. After all, in our lawsuit happy culture, doctors have given up erring on the side of caution. If my daughter had suffered a serious head trauma and the pediatrician didn’t urge us to seek care, she could be sued after all! But could there not have been another way to say what she said? It doesn’t take a medical school degree to answer that question.
Luckily our sweet girl is fine. After contemplating an ER visit for hours, we decided to monitor her closely overnight and she woke up alive, thankfully.