Sick baby, mommy-guilt, and the Army Health Care System

I’m sure all parents can sympathize with heartache you feel having a sick baby and even reading the headline feel a twinge of, ‘ugh, that sucks…’.

Case has been battling what we now know is another ear infection, but thought at the outset was just a bug (with fever), or a teething temperature (he’s cutting four molars), and allergies (as it’s prime time allergy season here in Fayetteville).

Last time I took him to the doctor for a temp (which, like this time, was sitting around 103 without Tylenol) and some congestion – they simply told me to continue with some Tylenol and give him some Benadryl (oh , and made me feel like a complete worry wart/first time mom/newb for even bringing him in).  So this time, I waited.  He had a temp for three days (and LONG nights…) and then it broke into swollen, red, watery eyes, runny nose, and a bad cough.  When the snot coming from his orifices turned yellow yesterday, his coughing was now accompanied by both vomiting(due to coughing so violently) and wheezing, AND we were going on almost a week of no sleeping (ahem, for everyone) – I decided that it was time to take the little guy in.

You would think I was asking to get some sort of crazy specialty appointment for the kid, at how difficult it was to even get an appointment, but finally, at 4:30 pm and after 3 phone calls, I was able to have him seen at the Acute Care Clinic at Womack (Army Medical Center on Fort Bragg) by a woman who introduced herself as Ms. Azeer (not nurse Azeer, not Dr. Azeer).  She proceeded to reprimand me for not bringing him in sooner,

“You know he’s wheezing, right?”

“That just started yesterday, but yes,”

“And, the infection in the right ear is pretty bad,”

(CUE,  despondent look up at mommy from Case and my heart sinking slowly…)

“I’m sorry, I just didn’t want to bring him in unnecessarily and we really thought it was allergies and the Zyrtec seemed to relieve some of the symptoms, not the cough, but…”

“You gave him Zyrtec?  He’s not supposed to have that until he’s 2!”

“I just halved the dosage, and called a family friend who’s a pharmacist to confirm, I guess I shouldn’t have..?”

“No, it’s too strong a medicine for a child his age and it says so on the box.”

Yikes.  OK, so now I know I should have listened to my mommy-gut when it was whispering to me to try to get him an appointment when he still had the fever, but the hassle of trying to get him in and then wait almost two hours once there for his prescriptions was, to be honest, really off-putting.  Especially, knowing it was quite plausible they’d just tell me to wait it out and continue him on tylenol.

In an ideal world, I’d have a pediatrician I could call (or better, text!) and have all my answers immediately and even better, if he did need to be seen, that same, reliable pediatrician (who happens to be a mom, herself) would come to us so we wouldn’t have to wait in the Acute Care Clinic for 30 minutes to be seen and then an hour and a half at the Army pharmacy to pick up his Motrin, Benadryl, and antibiotics. A girl can dream, right?

But in the meantime, and especially because I know how lucky we are to have affordable health care coverage, I’ll deal with the broken system.  I’m smart enough to know how lucky we are that I didn’t pay a dime for that visit (not even for his prescriptions) and that that certainly isn’t the norm.  Army  health care can be terrible, but is it better anywhere else?  We’ll soon find out…and what a timely issue, right?

Hopefully theses antibiotics will kick this infection sooner rather than later and the little guy will be back to normal so we can continue working, as we’ve lost a week  of PT and ST in this ear infection process (and the momentum we were gaining in those therapies to boot).

On an almost funny note, the real kicker of this doctor’s visit difficulty was Ms. Azeer’s advice on getting a follow-up appointment,

“You should call Monday to get an appointment for two weeks from now so he can be seen for a follow-up.”

Yeah, two weeks should be enough time to try to schedule that – hey, and  maybe I won’t have to call back two more times to confirm! Woohoo!

P.S –  Now that Brian is getting out of the military I finally think I’ve got a good grasp of navigating the military referral  and early intervention system  (good timing, right?) so rather than have all that good informatino go to waste I’m in the process of preparing a detailed post regarding that specific topic, especially explicating who you need to be firm with and who you need to be nice to and all those people that matter when it comes to being the best advocate for your child within the Army health care system (and beyond).  Coming soon.

UPDATE:

I have to add a caveat to this post, as I’ve had many moms, pharmacists, and doctors who have confirmed just what my pharmacist-friend advised regarding the use of Zyrtec.  It is definitely OK to give children 6 months and up and dosage should be administered by weight.  So, there.

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3 thoughts on “Sick baby, mommy-guilt, and the Army Health Care System

  1. Karen C says:

    Hey! Sorry to hear all this…but so glad you got the antibiotics going. Don’t beat yourself up! Your a great mom… 🙂 Love you!!

  2. Jessica says:

    So sorry to hear Case is not feeling well. Sending good vibes your way!
    I miss you babe!

    Also- just wanted to let you know I added you to my blogroll 🙂
    I need to keep up with your blog much better, and plan to do so now!

    XOXO

  3. Dana says:

    Sorry that you’re little guy was feeling so badly 😦 The first time we took Maya to an ENT (just to take a look at her adenoids) we found out that her adenoids were huge, she had a massive double ear infection (we thought she was just teething) and she had to have an allergy panel done because it turned out that her “rosy pink” cheeks were really “I’m terribly allergic to our stupid cat” cheeks. So I get feeling sheepish at the doctor 🙂

    Also, Maya has taken Zyrtec (per her allergist) since that same appointment–she was 8 months old. I think her dosage back then was 1/2 tsp, but I’m not certain.

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