Tuesday, March 13, 2012

On Intuition

The What Ifs can be scary sometimes.
Image by digitalart

Last week my daughter spiked a fever of 105.  I knew she was running a fever, but I didn't realize how high it was.  Every time I approached her with the thermometer, she would fight me like a little wildcat.  By early afternoon, however, she was complaining that her ears were hurting.  She's always been prone to ear infections, and, in fact, had tubes placed when she was just a year old.

I called the pediatrician, but they were unable to see us right away.  My husband and I debated whether we should take her to the Urgent Care to get her checked out.  In the meantime, she went into her room and covered herself in her heavy comforter and fell asleep.  We stood looking at her, trying to decide what to do.  "Take her in," the little voice in my heart said.  "She's been acting listless all day, and she probably has an ear infection.  Take her in now, and you won't have to deal with the ER later."  Alright, alright, I said.

I felt terribly guilty as I extricated her from the blankets, and I couldn't help noticing again how very warm she was.  We got to the Urgent Care and had to wait a bit.  The place was packed.  She leaned against her daddy and looked up at me with bleary eyes.  She looked incredibly pale and fragile.

When we were seen, the nurse performed all the usual checks: height, weight (she's getting so big!), blood pressure.  Then she ran the thermometer over her forehead.  I caught a glimpse of the number on it as she pulled it away.  I did a double take and my jaw dropped.  105.1!  "Oh my god," I said.  "Is that thing accurate?"  The nurse tried it again and got the same result.

The fever finally came down with a good dose of  ibupofen and acetaminophen and a little time.  But my mind keeps going back to that moment where she had been lying in her bed, wrapped up in that heavy comforter. That awful question of what if? dangles.  What if I had just let her lie there?  How high would her fever have gone without intervention?  What effect would the comforter have had?

I brought up the question to some friends the other night.  "Her fever would have broke and she would be fine," my friend said.  "Yeah, but what if it didn't?" I asked.  "But it doesn't matter," she replied.  "You followed your intuition."

That same intuition was what drove me for so many years, trying to figure out what was going on with my son.  I tell the full story here of our attempts to get E. properly diagnosed.  Doctor after doctor, therapist after therapist. Even once we had our diagnosis, we continued working until we felt like we had the best team possible.  Why?

Intuition told me to.  "Something is wrong," the little voice said.  "This isn't typical."  So I continued to search for answers to the questions.  And I always will.

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