Although I enjoy my Tuesdays at home as a day to play with the kids, it feels great that when one of them is sick on a Tuesday, I can be there to take care of them. After returning to school this September, it was inevitable that one of them would catch something. It ended up being little G who caught croup, so we spent the day taking walks in the cool air, basking in the cool mist of her humidifier, and wrestling pursed lips to get some Ibuprofen in.
As a doctor, I find it hard not to think of the worst case scenario. The first night of her illness, I played out possible scenarios in my head. If her breathing worsened and we had to go to the hospital, who would watch my son? Would I drive or call 911? I found myself preparing the diaper bag so that I could leave the house in a hurry, if needed. While her illness never progressed to that level of severity, we did end up in the doctor’s office the next day. I had already anticipated what the doctor would do for her and I found myself calculating her steroid dose in my head. I estimated how many pounds she must weigh by now… converted to kilograms… multiplied by 0.6. It was dirty math, but I figured about 5 mL would be necessary. Later on when the doctor did the official calculations, she told me it would be 5 mL and I stifled a smile. It was hard to disconnect from my work.
I have seen dozens of children with croup in the Emergency Department and admitted to the hospital. The management of these children is so standardized and routine that it rarely raises any alarm and could be completed by any intern. However, holding my own stridulent daughter made me question every noise I heard and develop paranoia. Was that stridor? Is she congested or wheezing? Is she belly breathing or does she always breathe like that? I seemed to lose my objectivity.
I was once again happy that I am not her doctor and that although I knew what all the appropriate steps were to treat her, there was someone else there to make those decisions for me. While I don’t want to spend my day off at my office, I was glad that my colleagues were there to help me care for my daughter during her illness. After G recovered from her episode of croup, I developed more empathy for the parents I see with children in the same situation. Another example of how parenting humbles me and informs my pediatric practice.