When in doubt, get checked out

There is a reason that people vilify and condemn others when tragedies occur.

Assigning blame is a way to make sense of what happened, and concluding whose fault it was, whether accurate or not, and attributing it to stupidity, carelessness or malicious intent wraps us in a warm, comforting cocoon of denial.

The false reassurance judgment provides of the notion “it couldn’t happen to us” makes us feel protected, inoculated.

The truth is, bad things happen all the time, and in a lot of cases, there may never be satisfactory answers as to why or how they happened. We are all vulnerable.

One case I have followed since early on was that of David and Collet Stephan in the death of their son from bacterial meningitis. I reviewed pages and pages of evidence, read all the news stories, and can make no solid conclusions except that I’m not the judge, or the jury.

No matter where you believe the fault lies, with the parents for their poor choices or with the ambulance that wasn’t equipped with a child-sized oxygen mask, it was a tragic, horrible thing that shouldn’t have happened.

The lesson I took away from this was in how I care for my own children. My rule of thumb is to take my children to see a doctor if symptoms persist, even if they don’t seem serious, or to take them in right away if they are.

I choose to err on the side of caution, though in some ways I have had to overcome my upbringing and natural inclination to do so.

To explain, I grew up in a home that preferred natural remedies to treat sickness and avoided going to the doctor, as my parents feared conventional medicine would do more harm than good. As a young adult, I had to fight feelings of guilt when I went to a doctor to get a prescription, as I felt my parents would disapprove.

In raising my own children, I choose to maintain good health with vitamins and supplements, but seek medical advice when they become sick and give them the recommended prescriptions.

Being a parent is a learning curve, and I fully admit, as I’m not a trained medical expert, I find it difficult to judge sometimes when it’s needful to seek medical attention for my children.

It’s also in my nature to not want to become a “burden on the system” by coming in for every sniffle. I always worry I will be more of an annoyance and waste the doctor’s time and my own.

Sitting in a waiting room with three active young boys is not a picnic either.

However, when in doubt, I take them in, and I’ve got to say, I’ve been surprised by the results.

There have been times when I was sure they were critically ill just to be assured it’s a virus, and while unpleasant, it just has to pass, and then recently, they only had a cough, but x-rays were ordered right away. It turns out there were spots forming on their lungs and a potentially serious respiratory infection was developing and we went home with rounds of antibiotics for all of them.

In every case, no matter where we were seen in Central Alberta, we always received excellent, thorough and attentive care. I was never made to feel once that I was being an over dramatic parent.

Though wait times can be difficult to endure with small ones, central Alberta really does have some terrific, dedicated medical personnel. We have always been treated well.

Although going to an ER may not always be necessary, there are other options such as walk-in clinics or making an appointment with your family doctor. Health Link is another resource that may be able to give you direction if you’re unsure about you or your child’s symptoms.

The point is, don’t take risks with your family’s health. Leave diagnosing to the professionals and see a doctor.

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