You might think that medical training would be a great asset to any parent. Docs are trained in all kinds of cool things like Heimlich maneuvers and laceration suturing.
Heck, if the wife got pregnant again (Nope…don’t even ask) and went into early labor, I bet I could spread out a shower curtain on our living room floor and just take care of everything right there. Noo problem. Doctor DAD!
But when does all that stuff actually happen (and do doctors anywhere really suture up their kids by lamplight in the kitchen anymore)?
What does happen to the kids much of the time is some thing or another that COULD BE TERRIBLE. Everybody, even the cat, knows the incident, or symptom, etc, might be the end of famSW101 as we know it. What the untrained blissfully don’t know…is JUST HOW TERRIBLE it might be.
So, in essence, the only difference between a doctor-dad and every other non-medical dad, is a stupefying knowledge of all the evil possibilities that could be behind a kid’s latest symptoms.
Headache for a few hours, some fever, woke up disoriented? What do you think, honey?
Um. Well. Probably meningitis. Have you ever seen a child die of meningitis? We’ll be lucky if she keeps her limbs. Could be coupled with flesh-eating bacteria, too. Hopefully at least some of her face doesn’t rot off. We may not even recognize her…if she miraculously survives the ordeal. It’s ok, though. We’ll still love her. Help her set up a profile on Matchmaker.com even though she’ll be totally deformed. Some saint of a man will learn to love her, unconditionally, like we do.
OR, saaay, it could be an absence seizure. Maybe the first of many. Maybe she’ll slowly have progressively worsening seizures until some galactically-renouned neurosurgeon implantes a permanent zaptrode into her medulla oblongata and calms the seizures but unfortunatley makes her arms twitch at 0.5 second intervals, often causing her to smack her own face.
“Probably just a cold, dear. Check her every once in awhile, and keep me posted,” like, every 8-10 minutes would be nice, at least until I get home from work so I can sit at the foot of her bed chewing my nails down to the carpel tunnels until the last moment before I’m due back at work tomorrow.
Since the day I simultaneously got fired and quit my job (aka graduated, but that’s such a boring designation), I have been much more “Daddy” than “Doctor”. Of course, this mostly has been great. Lots of “back-ee-ball” with one particular boy. Trips downtown to fairs and toy stores. Swimming pools, squirt guns, stories. You know…Dad-kid stuff. Some good catch-up after 3 years.
Today, I got to take everyone to gymnastics. Excellentcool. I’m always working at this day and hour when not subsisting on the dole.
All 4 kids have their own class. Each is good at particular things and they ALL have a blast. 10 minutes into it today, however, I see from the Parent Stadium, my 7 year old crying and sitting on the mat. The instructor picks her up and carries her over to the parent area.
No problem. She’s one of the more melodramatic. We’re good. All good. Everything’s good. I’m fine. I’m FINE!
I saunter up to my crying daughter – James Dean vibe gushing in all directions – and find that she somehow hurt her knee. Not sure how. Didn’t bang it…probably. But it’s so bad, she can’t bend it, walk on it or use her foot. Instructor gets me some ice and goes back to her class.
Really? You can’t walk, or bend it at all? Like, at all?
Turns out she can, in fact, bend her knee…but every time she does, she screams in pain. The noise she makes should be built into father-specific alarm clocks. Set that thing to belt out a child’s scream of pain…and you could show up to a tax-code seminar at 4:30 am with a slight twitch and the retention capacity of a SETI cloud-processing computer.
Daughter is crying both because of the pain, and because she doesn’t get to climb the rope – her favorite exercise (because she’s the only one in the family that can do it). Daddy knows Daughter would never miss rope-climbing. You could nail-gun her leotard to the balance beam, and that kid would wriggle out of it and happily climb the rope freak-naked if she needed to. For her, gymnastics is the rope.
And she’s the one who notifies me that she won’t be climbing the rope today.
*60’s ‘Nam Choppers overhead*
So the poor crying girl is immediately subjected to a bunch of physical exam tests that really should be reserved for the likes of LaDanian Tomlinson or Landon Donovan.
I try to get her to walk (she bawls). I check her gait (more bawling). Tippee-toes. Squatting. I look for knee effusions (more crying, sorry sweetie), patellar tracking, joint-line tenderness, patellar grind test (she loved this), Valgus/Varus stress tests, McMurray, Lachman, A/P drawer, pivot shift, Nobel’s, Ober’s, Wilson.
None of this, alas, helped with the tears.
Did she blow out her knee? ACL maybe? At 7? She’ll need a walker by 35! Maybe the PCL. You can usually walk on those and she’s moving around a bit. Maybe bursitis, or one of the collaterals. Compartment syndrome? Nah. What about a fracture? Maybe. Could be. Jeez, she’s gonna need pins! Oh! Didn’t even think of gastrocnemius tear…poor kid! Or meniscal tear. What about Plica syndrome…I don’t even remember what the heck that is, but maybe she’s got THAT!
I held her in my lap through the whole lesson. Then I carried her out to the car afterward. Once home, wife and I set her up with ice and Motrin (anti-inflammatories).
A few minutes after she settled into her at-home field clinic, she starts crying again. OH NO! It’s really starting to hurt. Something terrible really did happen. Oh, my beautiful child will never run again, maybe never walk.
“Where does it hurt, sweetheart? What’s wrong? Why are you crying?”
“I’m so BORED!”
“You’re bored.” My eyes droop a bit. I cross my arms.
“Can I puh-leeze get up now? I had to sit all through gymnastics too.”
10 minutes later, the kid is throwing her brother’s basketball and chasing moths. Her knee still hurts, to be sure. But only a little. She fully plans on climbing the rope next week.
Residency was tough, yes.
But this is why I’m losing my hair.