I don’t like going to the doctor. And I don’t think I’m alone. This has nothing to do with the doctor. I just don’t want to waste anyone’s time if the likely solution to my ailment is drinking plenty of water and taking a few naps.
I didn’t come to this sentiment on my own. Growing up, my siblings and I weren’t coddled for every sniffle and ache. My grandpa, a doctor, was very practical when it came to our various illnesses. For example, if I were to come to him and say, “Grandpa, it hurts when I do this,” his first response was always, “Well then don’t do that.”
My mom, or Dr. Mom as we playfully call her, is a watered-down version of our grandpa. As a child, she would identify the issue using her motherly wisdom and provide one solution, “Take a couple of Motrin and go to school.”
Of course, I exaggerate (only a little) but my siblings and I did grow up with the idea that a cold doesn’t put life on hold, it’s merely a bump in the road. Get some rest, drink some water, and move on.
This winter, my two-year-old daughter got sick. Her temperature sky-rocketed, she became lethargic, and wasn’t interested in eating or drinking. Now, if this happened to me, I would’ve shrugged it off. But in this moment, something strange happened.
If I wasn’t holding her close and placing my hand on her forehead every couple of minutes, I was pacing the room with nervous energy. I could feel my blood pressure rise, my stomach tie in knots, and my mind race to every possible diagnosis I could imagine. I was an absolute wreck.
The next day, my wife brought her to a pediatrician, they identified the problem, prescribed a treatment, and within days she was right as rain.
While I breathed a sigh of relief, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What happened there? Did you forget your upbringing? Why are you acting crazy?”
See, what I didn’t understand until that moment was that my grandpa and mom did feel those moments of worry as I did. They just both had practice. They had watched their children get sick time and time again. Their perceived apathy towards our ailments wasn’t for a lack of caring, it was the opposite. They’ve cared so much over the years that they had learned when it was just the sniffles and when it required a doctor’s visit.
While I‘ve become tough against my own illnesses, I don’t have that experience with my daughter. So, I’m going to go crazy with worry from time to time. And that’s okay.
Am I going to go to the doctor now with this new perspective? Probably not. Will I bring my daughter to the doctor, even if I’m not sure whether it’s just the sniffles or not? Darn right I will. I’ve got to learn.