The Inexact Science of Medicine

I’ve decided that much of medicine is a crap shoot.  Try this and see if it works.  Take this pill.  Oh, that didn’t work, try this one.  And it changes depending on who’s doing the diagnosing, fluid in the ear, but no infection, no antibiotic, fluid in the ear, still, no infection, here’s an antibiotic.

Don’t give cough medicine to children.  Have you tried cough medicine?

Don’t treat a low grade fever.  Go ahead and give him Tylenol.

Asthma, croup, virus, bronchitis?  Could be any.

WTF!  How am I, the ever second guessing web MD, supposed to know what to do, if the doctors themselves can’t come to some sort of an agreement?

Today, Second Son was back at the doctor’s office for the second time this week.  He started with a cough, that appeared out of nowhere, which led to a low grade fever for less than 24 hours, before giving way to an even deeper cough and general lethargy.

The doctor diagnosed him with asthma.  It didn’t matter that he had had a fever, and that he doesn’t have a history of wheezing, she saw that he had eczema, and well, if you have eczema than you must have asthma.

Commence breathing treatments.

Two days later, Second Son wasn’t much better.  He got another fever, I think. It lasted less than 24 hours.

Why do I say, think?  Because I’m not sure if he was holding the thermometer correctly in is mouth or not.  He’s new to the whole under the tongue thing.  This didn’t occur to me yesterday, when I called the doctors office, pissed about what I was sure was a misdiagnosis, it occurred to me today, when in the doctor’s office, the nurse decided to take his temperature a second time, after the first reading showed 99.4.  The nurse said her thermometer had lost contact, or something like that, midway through. The second reading, 97.3.  It made me wonder.

Then, there was the matter of the pulse oximeter.  You know, the little thing they put on a child’s finger to see if they are breathing adequately.  The nurse took it the first time and it read 93, 97 and above is normal.  She then decided to try again, on second son’s toe. She said sometimes children’s fingers are too little to get an accurate reading.  The toe reading, 98.  Good thing she checked twice or we might have been on the way to the ER.

Which brings me back to our first visit.  When they did the pulse ox on Monday, it was low.  They didn’t tell me how low, but they gave him a breathing treatment in the office, which means it was definitely below 97.  Should someone have perhaps checked his toe first?

I don’t know?  I’m not a doctor or a nurse, but you would think there would be some sort of office protocol, so in case I get the crappy nurse, who doesn’t think to do the toe check, my son doesn’t get an unnecessary breathing treatment.

But maybe he did need it.  Who knows?  Like I said, I didn’t go to medical school. Times like these, I sort of wish I did.  Except, I know that I could never be a doctor, because I would be incapable of giving a definite diagnosis, when I know that medicine is not an exact science, which is the whole reason I keep questioning.

After the asthma diagnosis, I said, “Well, what about the fever?”

“Coincidence”, she answered.


Now, I have a script for antibiotics and am unsure of what to do.  Second son told the doctor his left ear hurts and his right ear is stuffy.  The doctor said his left ear looks fine and his right ear has thick fluid in it, but isn’t infected.

The doctor on Monday said the same thing, except she told me that Second Son did not need antibiotics.

The doctor, today, says she is being overly cautious, because he still has the crazy cough going on, but she’s not worried about the cough, his lungs are clear, she’s worried that he could develop an ear infection.  There’s also the business of the fever, yesterday, that may or may not have been.

I gave him a decongestant/cough medicine and an hour later, asked him if his ear still hurt.  He told me it only hurts when he sticks his finger in it?  What?

I’m confused.

On one hand, I could give him an antibiotic, needlessly (or maybe not), or, I could ride it out a few more days and see how this all plays out.  Of course, if it plays out in the middle of the night tonight, he’s not going to school tomorrow.

He has missed three days of school.  I don’t want him to miss anymore.

I really need medicine to be more exact, or at least, for there to be some sort of consensus, so I can have some confidence in the diagnosis and subsequent treatment of my children.  In the meantime, I’ll probably fill the script for the antibiotic.  It’s been a week.  I don’t think he’s doing that much better, though I’ve been told plenty of times in the past, by other doctors, at the same practice, that a cough can take weeks to go away.

And the confusion just goes on…


One thought on “The Inexact Science of Medicine

  1. Just had a very similar convo last week with B. She was extremely frustrated with a case of “symptomatic” strep. Each doctor in the pediatricians office wanted to treat differently. She was beside herself on who’s directions to follow.
    You’re not alone mama.
    Fall decors look great 😉

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