Gastro? A cold? Does it really matter?

After four full days of frustration, tears, and vomiting, little L finally seems to be on the upswing. I’m not sure if it was a manifestation of the Norovirus going around, or some other cold, but at least it seems to be coming to an end.  His highest fevers occurred on that Friday when we had to pick him up early from daycare, and his highest temp at  home was only 100.6, which to this Dr. Mom equals pure relief.  I was so scared for him. There is nothing worse than seeing your child look weak and tired and not being quite sure what to do. I don’t want to overthink it or be overly worried; I’ve seen the truly sick children and I’ve known whether to rush them to the ER or not. But suddenly with my little one it has been different. What if there are crackles in the lungs which I just don’t happen to hear? What if I’m not noticing that he’s having a hard time breathing? What if I’m miscounting the diapers? So many things to give me fear and of course it makes me think of the questions I ask my patients: how many diapers are they making? Are they still consolable? Are there times when they are happy? Do things seem to be getting better or worse? They were such easy questions to ask, but when you have a child who looks very ill one minute and is playful and happy the next minute, the outlook muddies.  At many instances, now as an attending I take one look at a child and hear a scary story and contemplate the emergency room, and then suddenly after taking a few more minutes and thinking more carefully I am able to take a step back, look at all the data, and realize that the child is not quite as sick as they initially appeared. At the same time looking at that data and that bigger picture can take me in the opposite direction, pushing me to urge a child to the emergency room.  So this weekend has reminded me of many things: to continually empathize with my patients and families, who are only doing their best when bringing their sniffly sneezy children in to “busy” old me, and also to always teach families as much as I can about what I have been taught. Because it is those multiple checks, those constant reassessments, which help me – as a doctor and as a parent – make a decision about what to do with a child. But for now I am thankful that L has seemingly overcome the worse. He made it through most of the day without vomiting and actually ate a little bit of Squash curry for dinner. He definitely looks like he’s lost a pound or two over this weekend. Here’s hoping he gains some of it back by his next Doctor’s visit! And I hope that cough decides to abate completely by his birthday!