Friday, February 18, 2011

Having a Sick Sense of Humor

If the morning routine should have its tranquility shattered by the discordant sound of a single cough, my son is the instant doctor on call.  "I heard him cough.  I think it's strep." he pronounces solemnly.

Mind you, this kid has not made it to junior high let alone medical school, but the prescription is clear; "Today my brother should stay home, ginger ale and cartoons and bed."  He brings them to the couch and gives them a blanket and promises fresh waffles and oj with a straw. It's meant as compassion but for me, it's a collosal pain.  After such a prognosis, mere Mom convincing said patient that a cough is just a cough and that they can tough it out for that math test becomes a bit harder. 

It's made worse by the same son's armchair bedside manner when a kid comes home in the middle of the day.  "You probably were sick yesterday.  You probably got the germs when you were...insert diagnosed child's favorite activity here." Getting the kid to return to their favorite activity after that statement sans a radiation suit or subsequent full immersion bathing in purell is an uphill battle.  How do I convince them when their brother speaks with such certainty, that his statements are like promises from Congress and predictions for the weather, wildly inaccurate despite the veneer of  authenticity? "Germs won't kill you."  "They can." is the response. "My brother told me, he read about it in school."  Getting kids to accept that there are good and bad bacteria, good and bad germs, non lethal illnesses that do not require quarantine type measures, especially when they've been promised all of Eden by staying home by Dr. Brother makes me the equivalent of "Here's a bullet to bite on son, now go to school."

In short, how do I help short circuit fakers encouraged by a practicing quack doctor in the family without becoming the villianious personal equivalent of an insurance company?  I have visions of my adult offspring remembering Mom saying something like "You aren't really sick and if you're sick, it's still not bad...back to work with you and don't forget your co-pay." I can't let that happen.  Living with a cross between Eeyore, Chicken Little and Dr. Doom, a few coping strategies to keep hypochondria and wikipedia medicine from taking over the psyches of my other children have become necessary:

1) Florence Nightingale Effect:  An old fashioned white nursing cap with the red cross on it works as efficiently as a placebo.  Breaking out props like the thermometer, blood pressure cuff, band-aids and plastic medicine spoons sobers up the patient from the siren call of a day off.  For this reason, I never get the sweeteners for medicine.  I want it to taste yucky.

2) Technical difficulties:  The fastest cure for unreal illness is a sudden loss of cable, computer and wii.  "The cable's down today and we're out of tripple A batteries but I found a good book for you"...if the kid takes it without a howl of the unfairness of the world, I know it's time to hit the speed dial for the pediatrician. 

3) Indentured Servitude: Suggesting a long list of "to do's" might seem cruel to the outsider, but I do have standards.  I test for fever, I listen to the chest and check them over from head to toe; these are only used when I'm fairly certain whatever it is, is the result of something other than illness.   "Oh good, you can clean your room." works almost as well as no TV at getting kids to consider school in a whole new and positive light. "It's better than here!" works for me.

4) Limited Sick Days: Teachers have only so many to draw upon, who is to say kids don't as well?  By pointing out that if they take too many days away from school, they MIGHT have to make it up at the end of school during summer, it makes the children think, "How sick am I?" and weigh the possibility of surrendering a sweet day in June when we might you know...go to the pool or something. 

5) Paging Dr. Web MD.  God bless the Internet.  "I checked your symptoms and you're clear to go to school today." works for skinned knees, tired eyes, hurt elbows and when your skin is red or wrinkled from staying in the shower too long.  It took me a while to discover this method, or to recognize that "I found it on the Internet" had the same street cred as their brother's personal recommendations.

So now I know if they're staying home, they really need to, and I found the greater authority than my sometimes doctor least until he discovers one of those online degrees.


Anonymous said...

I love Dr. Antonetti, Jr. or dr. doom as he is known in the parenting trade.

Sue said...

That is hilarious! I still don't exactly know how you are stringing two thoughts together, but I'm really glad you are. It's probably sanity right now:-).

Mum2eight said...

lol. I have to employ some of these practices.

The best one is limited number of sick days.

MightyMom said...

I have to say I love the technical difficulties...but it would have NEVER worked on me!! :-)

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