Always Real, Faith, Modern Medicine


Tuesday, I had my boat rocked.

In my life, I’ve had my boat rocked many a time. I’m a tough gal. I’m a high-cope person. I am good in a crisis. But yesterday was different. Yesterday it wasn’t about me, it was about my child. And it sent me overboard.

Tuesday morning, Antique Daddy and I took Sean in for his four-year check-up, which unfortunately includes four vaccinations. I was dreading having to put him through the four shots, but as a family that embraces pharmacology, it had to be done. (Your philosophy on vaccinations may be different than mine, feel free to discuss it on your blog.)

Since it was just shots, I agreed to see the nurse-practitioner. Go ahead and judge me now, I prefer the doctor. I’m a doctor snob. One reason I prefer the doctor to the nurse practitioner is because the doctor is not 6’4 and 85 pounds. He does not wear pointy-toed stiletto heels and expensive dry-clean only sweaters to see children who might puke without notice. Her clothing choices do not say “I love children!” Her clothing choices send a mixed message and confuse me. Therefore I am wary of her.

The regular nurse takes his blood pressure and does all the regular stuff and then hands me a plastic cup and orders me to get a urine sample from the patient. So I dutifully take Sean to the restroom and he happily complies as if there is nothing more fun one could do than pee in a cup and put it in a little window. “Can we do this at home?” he asks.  No.

We went back to the exam room and continued with an impromptu Tonka road rally and waited.  All was well and the seas were calm.  A little glint of sun peeked through the windows.

The semi-doctor breezes into the room, stepping through the Tonka road rally in her stiletto pumps and plops down in a chair and announces with no warning that Sean has a sugar count of 2000 in his urine, that he’s an insulin-dependent diabetic, that we need to gather up our stuff and rush to the Children’s hospital emergency room and have him admitted where they can start doing tests and that he will need an insulin pump for the rest of his life and I will have to finger-stick him to check his blood sugar several times a day.

As I’m trying to take in all this information, I’m watching Sean happily bouncing around the room, the picture of health in every way. And that’s when the room listed to one side. On another day, when I was feeling well, I would have put the brakes on. But I am at the tail end (I hope) of a nearly month-long bronchial infection and my reserves are low. In my weakened state, I just sat there with my mouth open and stared at her.

With all the energy I could muster, which was none, I feebly offer that maybe it was the blueberry muffin he ate that morning or some Valentine candy from the day before.

“No,” she dismisses me, “That might raise it to 200, but not 2000 blah blah blah the sky is falling blah…” After that I couldn’t hear anything other than that ch-ch-ch sound of my blood marching in my ears. And then she left the room to call her mother and proudly report the exciting diagnosis she just made. At that point, I felt like I was being burned at the stake. Heat started steadily rising from my torso to my head. The room started spinning and I had to decide whether to throw up or pass out. And so I knelt down on the floor to make either option more convenient. 

The regular nurse came in and asked me if I was okay. I said, no, I did not think I was okay and that I needed to lie down. She suggested that I lay on the exam table, so I crawled up there and curled up in a little ball and willed the room to stop spinning. Sean, who is oblivious to all of the drama happening around him, stops sailing a Tonka truck across the floor and climbs up on the table and curls up beside me. He kisses my cheek and pats my side. “I will take care of you Mommy,” he offers. How ironic. I can’t think. I can’t feel anything except the sensation of fire.

Twenty or thirty minutes or hours pass, I’m not sure which. I no longer have a grasp on time. The not-quite-a-doctor and the regular nurse have an argument discuss how to get blood work back STAT. The regular nurse, the one with some sense, sends us to another facility to have blood drawn before we go to Children’s. She hands me paperwork. This is good. I have something in my hands that I can do. I manage to pull myself together enough to check out and get to the car, but the sensation that I’m on fire and my legs are made of jello persists.

We go to the next place and get blood drawn, which on a four-year-old, is almost as fun as four shots in the same day. And then we go home and wait for several hours for the phone to ring. We cherish the next several hours because we don’t know if they will be the last four hours of our previously normal life. We play, we pray. Priorities are reordered.

Three hours later, the nurse-practitioner calls and reports that his blood sugar is as normal as can be. She tells us that she has talked to the endocrinologist at Children’s and that he suggests that the elevated sugar in the urine is a stress response to a recent ear infection.

So then.  The semi-doctor yelled “Boo!” and is now calling to say “Just kidding!”  I feel slightly relieved, but not. I want to break her 85-pound frame in two just the same.  She wants us to come back in for a retest of his urine later in the week and another blood draw next week, but in the meantime to go on with life as normal.  I’m not sure how to do that as I don’t normally live in the shadow of a giant scary question mark.

In the meantime, I remind myself that no matter the outcome, that we will cope. That if we have to, we will deal with this as families all over the world do and have.  In the meantime, I remind myself that my God is with me always, no matter how badly my boat is rocking. 

129 thoughts on “Seasick

  1. Oh I don’t like that semi-doctor either! With her stiletto heels and bad attitude and poor skills.
    I’m so glad this was a false alarm, and that it’s out of her hands. I will pray for Sean and for you, too, and you’ll get through it. Keep us posted.

  2. I read your post earlier and said a prayer for Sean and his parents. Since then I haven’t been able to keep him out of my thoughts for more than a few moments. He is a beautiful little boy and I will continue to pray for him.

  3. Yes, I agree with what everyone is saying. My husband is a type 1 diabetic and so are two of my kids, both became diabetic at age 12.

    The NP is a menace. If Sean had type 1 diabetes, he would have lost weight, been hungry all the time, craving sweets, and peeing all the time. He also might have some little skin infections that haven’t cleared up. The 2000 sugar level is nuts! He would be in a coma. I agree with Kacey, probably someone was drinking high fructose corn syrup out of that cup.

    In my opinion, you have two choices. Never go back to that office again, and find a new pediatrician, or make an appointment and go see the doctor himself, in person, without Sean, and give it to him straight. Tell him (or let him read) the whole story, and what you now know about diabetes, and how quiveringly upset you are about how this was handled. Miss spindle shins should be out of her ear if the doctor has any sense at all. What he does about this might give you a clue as to whether you should change doctors after all. Sean may be fine, but it probably feels like this took 10 years off your life!

  4. I haven’t read through all the other comments so I am not sure that this has been stated, but I hope it has. If that is a practice you frequent I hope that you will call and put in a complaint about how that was handled. That is ridiculous. I know lots of fabulous nurse practicioners and oddly enough they usually have the reputation of being more “patient friendly” than doctors. Make your voice known to that clinic so that no one else has to go through what you just did.

  5. Gosh did that bring back memories for me when I was told that they were 90% positive that the tumor on my son’s liver was cancer. That is the only time I’ve seen my husband cry. Thankfully for us as well the Drs made a mistake, a huge mistake. I’m so sorry you had to go through that and I pray everything continues to be well for Sean.

  6. I am so sorry for all you went through. Will keep y’all in my prayers.
    And I would so kick her butt for you that way you can claim you had no idea how she fell asleep under a car. Grr.
    Don’t beat yourself up! It was a sucker punch. You’ll get a second opinion, and your sweet boy will be fine no matter what.

  7. Apparently you should have no sugar in your urine, zero, so 2000 was off the charts. I would think that someone with urine sugar of 2000 would be dazed and confused or comatose or something, that there would be some external indication. — Antique Mommy

    That’s exactly what I was thinking. My niece is a type 1 diabetic, and when her sugars have climbed ot a dangerous level, it’s obvious even to me and I’m neither a medical professional, not am I always around her.

    Additionally, I had gestational diabetes and went through an incident where my sugars skyrocketed. I nearly passed out in the checkout lane at Wal-Mart and was brought back to reality by a terrified little clerk. Again, I’m not a medical professional, but I think if Sean’s sugars were even 400-500, you would know. There would be some visible indication — especially for sugars at 2000. (Is that actually even possible?)

  8. I have been so worried for you this week!! (Due to the little break you took.)

    In December my precious 10 year old daughter fainted at school. When I went to pick her up from school I started to cry at the Nurse’s Office. Later she asked me why I was crying.

    When the Dr. sent me off to the Pediatric Cardiologist, they had to give me directions because I could not possibly remember how to drive there—the brain would not function.

    Luckily for me my physicians were excellent, and so far we haven’t found anything wrong.

    I think any mother knows what you’re going through!!!!

    And my prayers still continue…….

  9. As I read this I, like many of your readers, shed so many tears for you. We’ve been going through problems with my 9 year old and one of her kidneys. But that initial feeling of helplessness for your child just cannot be compared to news of your own ill health.

    Although I want to say that my prayers will be that your little one does not have to deal with this in his life, only God can make that call and I will instead pray for you to continue to find the strength in Him to deal with whatever is in your lives.

    God bless.

  10. It’s always shocking to hear that something really critical may be wrong with your child – don’t beat yourself up over the “advocate” thing, since you ARE Sean’s best advocate, and are there to champion him whenever it’s necessary. Sometimes, we all just need a little time to absorb the news before we can react.

    My younger daughter (and third child) was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was about 10 months old…I cried all the way home from the doc’s office. We didn’t know then how she’d be affected. It turns out she’s got a fairly mild case – she’s able to walk (although she did have surgery to extend ligaments in her leg, which had twisted from muscle atrophy on the side affected by her CP); she can eat without assistance, she doesn’t need a respirator, and all the other things that kids with cases more serious than hers have to live with. She does have seizures about every 45 days, despite anti-seiure meds, but she is otherwise happy, healthy and very bright. I may not have been her best advocate DURING the diagnosis – but I’ve tried hard to do better ever since! She still, at 8 yrs, likes to sit on my lap and cuddle; she has a great sense of humor and several good friends, and although she’ll have various challenges all her life, I know she’ll get through them, and I’ll be right there to help when she needs me.

  11. Well, call me a doctor snob, too. Sounds like you went to see our NP. (She’s bit shorter and plumper, though – still NO personality when it comes to working with kids – HELLO!) I definitely prefer the doctor, too. Sounds like some of the nurses in the office agree. Good for them – and you.

  12. OMG…I don’t even know how you got through those hours let alone having to do this to him again for a recheck.

    I pray that the recheck shows everything is totally fine and that this was just a story you will be able to tell in many years when it becomes just a funny story and not the fact that you were told to rush down to Children’s now.

    Jesus, thank God for nurses and why is it that doctors make more money than they do?????

    What the hell would a doctor be without a nurse anyway?

  13. My heart just broke for you and I totally understand how one minute your world can seem normal and the next completely off kilter. I’m thankful yours has righted itself somewhat and that all is well with the recheck. Vision completely narrows and all you can see is God in the pinpoint of light. I think we all have just fallen in love with little Sean and his sweetness. Take care of yourself – we love you, too.

  14. Oh goodness, I can not believe she did not suggest the bloodwork as a double check before spouting all that horror. You should definitely see the REAL dr. for the next visit and every visit after that. I hope it all works out and I am definitely saying a prayer that all will be okay.

    {{{super big hug for your family}}}}

  15. Okay…I’m exhausted for you after reading that. Man alive, what incompetence. It sounds like, if her attitude were just one iota human-like, that would’ve made all the difference in the world.

    I can always sic my 82 year old midwestern grandma on her. She’s old, but angers easily, and tends to dislike most health care workers (er…except for me).

    Sending a hug and a prayer.

  16. I am late catching up on this, but wanted you to know that I am praying about it.

    We had a very similar experience, with just that much compassion from the medical “professional”, when we were finding out our daughter had a kidney disease.

    Also, once when I told the receptionist that I did not want to see the NP, but the real doctor, she told me that a nurse practitioner is the “same thing as a doctor.” Hmmmmm…. I wonder if all those doctors know how much money they wasted on medical school.

  17. Some people dont care and some people have no class. NONE.
    I’m so happy it was normal. I’m praying for you all. And I’m praying for that 85 pound little ding bat who needs to take classes on people skills.
    Hugs to you AM.

  18. As a nurse myself, I can only think that this woman obviously was a very NEW NP and took her degree upon herself to diagnose without consulting the Doctor that oversee’s her, or else she’s an oblivious idiot. I think I shall lean towards the latter.

    That must have been very scary for you.

    You are such a gracious writer. I would graciously write her a letter and c.c. it to the Doctor and would definately NEVER see her again. She will only learn if her consequences are brought to her attention, and she might think twice before she does that the next time to another Mother.


  19. Let this be an important lesson: things are not always what they seem.

    Let this be a reminder: We always worry way more than we should when it comes to our children.

    Let this be a chance: to do maybe a bit more to help the staff become more educated in how to handle these situations.

  20. When my adopted daughter was 5 she had to pee in a cup and it set her off into a complete panic/meltdown. There’s another boy vs. girl difference for you! She is 14 now and we can now laugh about that doctor’s visit. We discovered she had a form of muscular dystrophy when she was 10. 6 hip surgeries later she is doing great – swimming on the swim team and playing basketball in middle school. Jeremiah 29:11 will help you cope and keep your focus on future.
    I think every Dr. should have to watch the movie “The Doctor” – an oldie, but goody about a doctor who has a terrible bedside manner until he gets cancer himself.

  21. I can’t even start on bedside manner issues. Good heavens.

    When my husband was 5 his legs were too tired to climb stairs. His parents took him to the doctor, who thought he had muscular dystrophy. Duchenne’s to be exact. The one where you will be lucky to reach the ripe old age of 20. It was a week or so before they could get in to a specialist, so they spent Labor Day weekend watching Jerry Kids and crying. After some muscle biopsies it was determined that it was indeed muscular dystrophy, but childhood dermatamyositis, for which he took some prednisone and moved on with his life.

    My heart goes out to those with a false alarm of a worst case scenario, and to those for whom it is not a false alarm but a reality. Life is precious. Our children are precious. God’s grace be with you.

  22. Sorry to hear of your saga and hoping to hear of better outcomes in the future! I also hate that the Prada Princess gave NPs such a bad name. My husband is a great one!

  23. I am suprised you actually got up off the table. I would have been a complete puddle on the floor actually…

    Prayers for the continued good health of your son.

  24. We have one dr at our pediatrician’s office that we try to avoid. I have found that she is useful when your children are sick, but only you can tell, because she overreacts to everything. That’s the only time I can stand her.

    Our first run in with her was a check up with our third son. He was born with a tumor that had to be removed, non-cancerous, but brought with it elevated alpha-fetal proteins in his blood, which were being monitored by his surgeon. My husband took Elijah in, the first time he went in without me.

    The dr freaked out about his weight. Which was completely in line with the pattern of our elder two boys. She asked Rich about how much Elijah nursed. which he could only answer by saying that he nursed all the time. She wanted us to weigh him before and after each time he nursed, and probably put him on formula. Finally, they called me, and I asked if he was vastly different than his brothers.

    Brothers? She didn’t know he had brothers. She hadn’t looked at his chart. “Oh, I see that they did the same thing.” She didn’t know he’d had the surgery until she undressed him and saw the scar. She had us go to the hospital to take a fecal sample which we did because we were concerned she’d report us to CPS if we didn’t. Boy was that fun.

    Meanwhile, we went on vacation (the next day), and when we came back, there was a message on our phone that she got the test results, and all was well, of course. However, she was very concerned because she saw that his AFP levels were shockingly high. No kidding. There was a second phone message saying that she had talked to his surgeon, and it turns out that the AFP level was lower than it had been and was on a downward trend. Hmmm. We knew that already, so did his surgeon, so did the other drs in the practice. Argh.

    Like I said, she’s good when you know your child needs antibiotics, but he doesn’t show enough for them to take seriously. We don’t do any check ups with her, though.

  25. What in the wide world… 2000? I’ve had gestational diabetes and my world was zinging at 200. Hmmm… he wasn’t even zinging?? bouncing?? wired?? Hmmm…

    If it were my doctor, he’d have said, “Let’s do one more thing” before he started spouting/vomiting/preaching.

    Remember her name and when they say, ‘Your dr. is not in, would you like to see so and so.” JUST SAY NO! LOL

    I’m sure you know tha already — because I’m a bit behind on your blog. I’ll keep reading to find out how this all turns out. No need to reply. 😉

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