This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada, which closed in 2021.
The Blog

Why Do Kids Get Better Right When the Doctor Comes in?

Why is it that when one takes their forlorn and sickly child to the hospital with all the signs that spell out contagious and lethargic and ailing, they miraculously get better -- even before ever having seen the doctor?

I might just be the world's worst hospital advocate for my sickish children. Not to say I always was, just saying that with age and experience also comes both insanity and exhaustion.

And deterioration. Mental breakdown. Brain cell reduction.

Which is to say that I think my brain has (obviously) lost a little of its ability to embellish details (and that goes for many areas of my life, not the least of which would be those areas concerning the issues of sickness and disease). Because..(and seriously, now), after having had four children go through the ropes for what is almost 14 years of medical care, I am starting to lose a bit of my mojo. Or maybe, I am rather starting to get the hang of this "parenting-a-sickie-thing" a little bit. And I get it now -- the kids are not always as sick as I think they are.

Thank heavens for that.

Which brings me to last night. After having spent the last couple of hours in a series of hospital waiting rooms so as to see a doctor (ANY DOCTOR), I had flashbacks into past visits that I made to other clinics, with one or the other of my four children in tow. And I was reminded yet again: that maybe this new-found laissez-faire attitude toward childhood viruses and the like is actually a bonus. What doesn't kill me makes me stronger.

Ditto for my kids.

There was the time I took Son as a three-week-old baby to Emerg. It was August, Prince County Exhibition weekend on P.E.I., to be exact. Knowing so much about babies as I did back then, (from all the reading I had done in the What to Expect... books, of course), I knew that babies liked to stay warm and cozy. So, of course, on one of the hottest days of the summer, I had Son dressed up in about 50 layers of clothing, complete with the cutest little hand-made sweater and bonnet set EVER -- a set that I knew would just suit this particularly desperate and HOT day in August of 2000 (what did I even know back then).

So, of course, when Son started to get a slight TEMP from all the over-heating, I believed that he might have contacted some deadly virus. Plausible, considering he'd been out of the house like ONCE since birth (to come straight home from the hospital).

When the Doctor looked him over and found no reasonable explanation for his slight temperature, other than OVER-DRESSING the poor child in clothing fit for a winter blizzard, he sent Husband and me merrily on our way. Plucky and confident that Son would indeed thrive and see another day.

Ah, yes. Over the years, I have been known to go a little overboard with the self-diagnosing. I should have been an online doctor. There was the time that I was watching the nursing staff's every move (which incidentally happened to be Son's second over night stay in the hospital). And that was also the time when the doctor inquired of ME whether I might be a nurse. How truly flattering. I could only wish. If he only he'd have known how incredibly inept I had been the first time I took Son to see a physician, those words would never have escaped his mouth. The only reason for this error on his part might have been attributed to my slightly improved repertoire of medical vocabulary from those initial infant days when I didn't have a sweet clue if I was coming or going. As well as my powerful hospital advocate presence (a.k.a nurse wannabe presence).

Which leads me again back to the present. That powerful nursing presence has all but jumped the parenting ship. My daughter has the croup right now, and I couldn't even remember what that ailment was called when asked for a description tonight. Back in the day, I would have been throwing out medical terminology like you wouldn't believe. And all I could come up with for the nurse this evening when she was doing the initial assessment was this sad excuse for a description.

"She sounds kind of hollow." (As if she was some kind of cheap Easter bunny.)

But still. Even with my mental decline, I do know that two hours in a hospital merits some kind of reward. In the form of grape-flavoured medicine, or a doctor's note for a day off school or a free ticket south to relax in paradise. Something. Something must be given in exchange for having risked one's life sitting in the cess-pool that is a hospital waiting room. Right?

You would think.

But then this happened. She got BETTER. Daughter stopped looking sick and started looking... HEALTHY. Say what? Kids aren't supposed to miraculously heal just before the doctor comes in to diagnose. They need to be at their sickest. Their most lethargic. THAT'S THE RULE.

Which leads me to ask the following very valid series of questions: Why is it that when one takes their forlorn and sickly child to the hospital with all the signs that spell out CONTAGIOUS and LETHARGIC and AILING, they miraculously get better -- even before ever having seen the doctor?

And this: after you've been there for such a looooong a while, waiting patiently in out-of 'patience' to see a doctor. So by the second hour in, said sickly child has exhausted all the interesting options at his/her disposal, as well as the limited data plan on your mobile phone. And instead of looking sickly anymore, she/he starts to dance some kind of antsy jig in the lobby right beside the silver and blue Christmas tree, albeit a dance accompanied by a rather pale and sickly pallor to his/her normally rosy complexion.

Why is this?

And why is it that one must then wait two hours on a chair that feels as though it were made out of straw and barbed wire -- just to hear the good doctor say "it's just a virus." When all you really want to know is that you really are not that big of a doofus to have waited all evening in a room that has TRAUMA written on the door only to realize you are not even leaving with so much as a measly little cough drop?

And the only possible answer for these questions is this: I do it for the love of my child. Because truly there is nothing I'd rather do than spend quality time with my kid. REALLY. Even if that means I am hanging out in the trauma unit trying to think of another brilliant word for 'croup'.

Suggest a correction
This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada. Certain site features have been disabled. If you have questions or concerns, please check our FAQ or contact