Monday, April 04, 2005

When baby gets sick...

Why do babies always get sick on nights and weekends? I'm not talking about colds. Colds happen at any time of day, any day of the week. I am talking about strange symptoms, high fevers, wheezing chests, they all occur late at night when there is no way to reach your regular pediatrician.

They tell me that long ago, people could actually call their doctors after hours. As much as I think that would have been great for parents, it must have been horrible for doctors. Today, it is much more common to be referred to a nurse advice line for late night questions. And, when I have called, they have actually been wonderful. They have the correct dosage of baby Tylenol at their fingertips (why do the manufacturers insist on putting "ask your doctor" on the instructions for medicating babies under age two?) and they know when to worry about a fever and when to relax.

But even with their backup, we have spent a couple scary evenings in the ER. The night our toddler stopped toddling, simply crying and refusing to walk, saying "Owie" and pointing to her legs, we had no choice. Hours of waiting, an exam and an MRI later, they determined her cold virus had settled in her joints and she needed some Tylenol. By the time we got home, I needed far more than that.

I have since learned that for interim times (until nine at night or on weekends) there is a local pediatric urgent care. It is less crowded and friendlier than the emergency room and they specialize in kids, so I will try them the next time I am in a panic in the middle of the night over my little one's health.

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