It’s one of the greatest ironies of parenthood.
Young kids encounter so many germs and catch so many viruses. Yet somehow finding a doctor to treat them can be incredibly difficult.
When you first become a parent, you are lulled into the false sense that there is a plethora of medical professionals at your beck and call. When your kid catches a bug for the umpteenth time though, and you need someone to investigate, things get tricky.
We know you’ve got your routine check-up with the Maternal Health Nurse every few months. Other than finding where your child’s weight is on a bell curve, you’re limited for avenues of medical discussion here. These appointments aren’t exactly where you’d go for out-of-the-ordinary health concerns.
So, what are your options anyway?
Maternal and Child Health Line
The Maternal and Child Health Line can be a great way to gain peace of mind, without having to leave the house. The downside though, is that (understandably) it is very hard to diagnose an issue without being there to see it. For this reason, a lot of the time the nurse has to refer you onto a doctor. The painful part here is, once you’ve been told to see a doctor, you have an obligation to do so. Unfortunately in the middle of the night that means heading to hospital or calling the Home Doctor.
This one is a handy way of avoiding a hospital visit for issues that require urgent attention, but aren’t quite Emergency-Room-grade material. Small issues can be resolved by calling these guys in, but they are pretty limited with what they can do, as the only equipment they have is what they bring in their briefcase.
If the Home Doctor can’t resolve your issue, it sometimes results in an Emergency Room visit, if your normal GP is closed.
I find the effectiveness of visiting a GP varies from doctor to doctor. Being good with kids isn’t a prerequisite of becoming a GP. For this reason, some really lack bedside-manner, patience and understanding with kids. Toddlers, in particular, are notorious for being belligerent and uncooperative when someone is poking and prodding them.
I’ve also found some GPs are out-of-touch with common illnesses kids catch. Kids are sometimes like a whole separate species to us and need to be treated as such. While kids are susceptible to Hand Foot and Mouth Disease, Slap Cheek and a multitude of other viruses, they aren’t generally something you’d look for in adults.
Your normal GP is fine for common issues, but I’ve found when more digging is required, they are very limited in how they can resolve the issue.
Paediatricians are awesome. They work exclusively with kids, specialising in kids’ diseases, behavioural issues and what have you. They are trained to work with kids, having their offices decked-out with toys, colours and everything you need to distract the little one from the icy-pole stick being shoved down their throat.
Being specialists, they are perfect for committing to resolving an issue and dedicate longer appointment sessions for each visit.
The problem? Well, because they are specialists, you need a referral to see them and then you can face hefty wait times to even get in. Going private can cut down the wait times a bit, but that comes with further out-of-pocket expenses. This makes it tricky when your kid is unwell now and you need to have them seen that day.
Emergency Room (in a hospital with a children’s ward)
This place sucks. We’ve spent our lives being told that Emergency is for life-or-death situations. Unfortunately, when your kid is unwell and needs to be seen, sometimes hospital is the only place available.
This usually means dragging your kids out in the cold, during the night, only to sit in a waiting room for 6 hours plus. On top of this, you’re usually shoved in a poorly ventilated room with dozens of other kids that are spluttering and vomiting all over the place their own mutation of plague.
If you thought your kid felt crappy already, try dragging them out of their bed to sit in the Emergency Waiting Room for hours on end. And I hope you’ve got a good data plan, because YouTube will be your only ally to get through the wait.
In a perfect world…
It’s so hard to get the right help when your little one is feeling off. It seems like a combination of all the above would be the perfect option. Imagine a GP paediatrician that you could book in your appointment for that very same day! Unfortunately the best option will vary from parent to parent.
Once you’ve found a doctor that you trust, they are your best port of call for your kids’ medical issues. Whether that means your GP or a specialist, the expert on your kid is ultimately you.
You know if things aren’t right. Sometimes that means visiting different doctors and specialists and pushing for answers until you’re satisfied.