Believe it or not, I did not attend medical school. I know, you are laughing. I had thought once several years ago that perhaps a career in the medical field would be great. You can help people and it in certain areas you can make a decent living. And then I nearly fainted when I saw blood. Obviously, not the right fit for me.
Today, I was at an appointment with Bernadette. She had to get injections to help keep her little body healthy and safe during cold and flu season. It’s a shot that did not fully protect her last year but this year, it seems to be helping her so far.
I sat across from the nurse after she made sure Bernadette did not have any sort of reaction to the shot and we chitchatted about the Down syndrome community in our area. I’ll admit, I’ve had a little trouble lately connecting with others. With so many appointments and therapies, my time and my energy for that matter are limited, but my desire remains as the relational person I am to connect with others. I have a couple of mom friends with kids nearly the same age as Bernadette and I am so thankful for them. I love being able to bounce around advice through group messages and see how they are doing certain things and whatnot. I haven’t had the opportunity to connect with other moms, moms that have been where I am at and maybe are a little further on in their journey.
As we continued talking, we discussed Bernadette’s illness and hospitalization last year and the incredibly amount of respiratory support she was on to help her little body fight off RSV. This nurse, in the 17 years of doing this shot, has only had 3 cases where babies have ended up getting RSV after the shot, Bernadette being one of those three.
I honestly couldn’t believe my ears. Only three cases? That seems unreal considering when we were in the hospital this time last year every single room in the PICU was full of babies with RSV. Some of those babies being typical healthy babies without a compromised system that ended up getting so very sick.
I told her how overwhelming it is sometimes to care for kids in general. I told her that I am not the expert in anything related to the heart or lungs and how sometimes I do in fact wish I would have gone to medical school just so that I could have some understanding of what to be on the look out for with Bernadette.
She went on to say that parents who walk through these types of medical situations with their kids come out the other side knowing so much more about heart disease that they very well could have gone to medical school. I agreed as I thought about those early days when we were first learning about Bernadette’s heart defect and I the words the cardiologist were saying sounded like a completely foreign language. Now, they are familiar, and I have so much more understanding of the way the heart works than I ever did beforehand.
We talked about Bernadette’s recent illness with Pneumonia and how scary that was thinking about how it could have possibly been RSV but it wasn’t. I confessed again that I am no expert and that sometimes I don’t always know the best call to make. Should we go straight to the ER? Should we call the advice nurse? Should we just wait it out another hour?
Her most recent illness ended up in an ear infection. My mom had mentioned how she noticed Bernadette pulling on her ear. I of course, just said it was probably teething but luckily had an appointment already booked for her.
I went into the appointment feeling silly. Oh, the pediatrician is just going to look at me with crazy eyes saying “seriously?” and send me on my way.
That wasn’t the case and instead we ended up with antibiotics to fight an ear infection and an eye infection.
I remember leaving the doctor’s office thinking to myself, man, I wish I knew how to look inside her ears for an ear infection. Is there some sort of medical class I can take just so I know how to do that? And how to listen to her lungs when she’s sick?
The nurse this morning reassured me that the doctors and medical staff are there for those exact reasons. They are there to figure that out for you and to treat the problem as necessary.
But still, sometimes I wish I could figure out a few of those things on my own. For now, I am at the mercy of all the medical professionals that have treated and will treat Bernadette. And yes, my knowledge of certain medical things has grown over the past year and a half more than I ever thought it would, but honestly? It’s ok.