Doctors and hospitals

When DD-14 first mentioned she had an earache, I wasn’t overly concerned. When it continued the next day, I still felt pretty confident we could deal with it.

Sure, I was 99% certain she was suffering from an otitis media, but that’s no reason for worry. Most ear infections clear up on their own within a couple of days. I know. Besides, we already had an appointment with our GP, so everything was under control.

Except that it wasn’t.

The GP confirmed what we already knew: DD-14 was indeed suffering from an otitis media. Her eardrum was red and blistered. What? Hold on a minute. Blistered? That doesn’t sound like an ordinary otitis to me. My mind went in overdrive, and I forgot to ask about the blistering. I was just thinking. As usual.

Meanwhile, the GP suggested DD-14 should take a paracetamol four times a day, and ibuprofen three times a day to relieve the pain. She also mentioned that my daughter appeared to be more ill than she’d expect from a 14-year old with otitis, and we should not hesitate to contact the weekend doctor if her condition didn’t improve.

The ibuprofen proved to be a mistake. It did relieve the pain, but it also made her vehemently sick. She threw up so often, and with such force, it made her stomach hurt and her throat bleed. So we decided she was not going to have any more ibuprofen.

And the pain got worse. And worse. And the fever still wouldn’t subside, despite the paracetamol, which she took again as soon as her stomach would let her.

Her friend came for a sleepover, but she was too ill to have fun with her friend. And the pain continued getting worse. By now, it wasn’t just the inside of her ear anymore, but the entire right half of her head, which had become puffy and swollen. The spot just behind her ear probably hurt the most by now, and was extremely sensitive to touch.

We phoned the weekend doctor and got an appointment right away. DD-14 only just had time to get dressed. When we left home, leaving DD-14’s friend in DD-19’s care, I had this feeling that we might have to take DD-14 to hospital.

The weekend doctor was not convinced that sending DD-14 back home with a prescription for antibiotics was a good idea. He was concerned. Our daughter was far too ill for a teen with a simple otitis. So he phoned the otolaryngologist, and sent us on to the emergency department of the local hospital.

At the hospital we were made to wait in an overcrowded waiting room, which wasn’t only stuffy and smelly, but also lacked enough seats. Great. Then we waited. And waited. And never mind that the referral letter from the weekend doctor had a severe warning in it: “OM AD CAVE: very sick child!” Never mind that it mentioned a suspected mastoiditis.

Eventually, we were taken to a consulting room, where we waited again. Until we were taken to a different consulting room. And still nothing happened. A nurse came to tell us the otolaryngologist had been called and we were waiting for him, but she had no idea when he’d show up. Fantastic. We were sent to the emergency department for a reason. We had a severely ill child, who needed medical attention. Urgently.

By the time the ENT doctor arrived, DD-14 had shut down completely. She didn’t say a word. Just stared at him blankly. That gave him a start, as he thought she’d become unresponsive. I explained to him that she was really upset because of the long wait.

“You’ve been here for long then?”

“Yes. We’ve been here for several hours already.”

“They never phoned me, so I decided to come and see if you’d arrived.”

“They said they phoned you and didn’t know when you’d come.”

He stalked out of the room, his face like thunder, and went to give someone a piece of his mind. That made my day. At least it wasn’t the doctor who’d been negligent. Just one of the blonde bimbos at the emergency department. But this doctor cared.

When he came back and addressed DD-14 again, she didn’t ignore him anymore. He checked her out and discussed our options with us. He could prescribe antibiotics, but then it would still take a couple of days before she’d feel any better at all. He could perform a paracentesis, which would take the pressure off DD-14’s eardrum immediately, but the procedure would hurt. He would, of course, apply an emulsion to anaesthetise the eardrum first, but it might still hurt.

DD-14 wisely chose the paracentesis. Of course, the doctor still prescribed antibiotics too. Both oral antibiotics and antibiotic ear drops. For pain management paracetamol would have to suffice, as ibuprofen was definitely not an option for our daughter. Then again, paracetamol would likely be enough now that the pressure had been taken off the eardrum.

Before we left, the doctor stressed that we should come back to see him the next day at noon, if DD-14’s condition did not improve. Otherwise, we should make a follow-up appointment on Monday.

Thank goodness, by the time we got back home DD-14 wanted to eat. After supper we even heard her giggling with her friend. The next morning her face was back to normal, and she behaved like her normal self again. She even resumed bitching at her sister, who of course returned the honour. She was definitely on the mend.

This morning a new problem presented itself: DD-14 (understandably) refused to take her antibiotics because they made her very nauseous. I tried to convince her that she should take them, but as we were going to see the otolaryngologist again later today, I certainly wasn’t going to force her. Besides, how much good would it do to force a 14-year old? I wouldn’t force an adult, so I won’t force my teen daughter either.

The ENT doctor was genuinely pleased to see her doing so much better today. He was less pleased when I told him she didn’t want to take the antibiotics anymore. Like I’d done earlier, he tried to convince her that she should take them. He told her everything I’d told her this morning, but to no avail. So he struck a compromise with her: she would be allowed to stop taking the antibiotics, but she had to promise to complete the treatment with the antibiotic ear drops. He said he was confident that she was going to be OK now.

Next appointment and a hearing test in about two months.


About Liam

Poet, writer, aspiring minimalist
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