by Nora Lyons Sauter
I did not look forward to the inpatient EEG, but a video EEG was inpatient, so there we were. The last time Blake had an inpatient EEG, the 48 hours stretched into a weeklong stay.
Blake was wired up and ready to go. As afternoon turned into evening, a young doctor came on for the overnight. He noticed Blake had a little temperature.
“He’s teething,” I explained. He had two molars ready to pop out.
“I think he has an infection and I want to start an antibiotic,” he said.
“He’s teething,” I repeated. “If you want to give him some Tylenol for the fever, fine, but otherwise he’s fine.” The attending left the room without a word. I returned to my book and coffee.
He returned about 20 minutes later, with a nurse, and two medications.
“I’m going to start him on an antibiotic.”
“NO. You are not,” I said quietly, but with authority as I stood from the foldout chair.
“I think he has an infection.”
“As I said before, he is teething, hence the tiny temperature. If you want to give him Tylenol, fine. Otherwise get out of our room. Blake is here for an EEG. He is not here because he is ill. You are not giving him an antibiotic, and if you have a problem with that you can come back with your supervisor.”
He paused, then stepped back and left the room. The nurse gave me a sly smile as she closed the door behind him.
I took a deep breath. I had found my voice.
About eight months before this, Blake, then 22 months old, spent nearly a month in the hospital with the flu. It was a very hard time, and I felt very powerless during the experience. While doctors ordered tests, treatments, and made recommendations, there were times I felt lost. I was overwhelmed with everything.
When it was over, I went over scenes again in retrospect trying to come up with better responses. I never wanted to feel like that again. I rehearsed scenarios and conversations over and over. Still, I couldn’t find my power and my voice. I left appointments feeling undone. I kept replaying conversations. My voice still eluded me.
That night at Blake’s inpatient EEG the practicing all came together. After that, it was much easier to question why this doctor wanted that test, or why that doctor wanted us to consult with another specialist. I found my power and control in the situation, and have since found greater ease at asserting it. My son no longer even has blood drawn without a good case why and a good explanation as to what it will accomplish or further.
Before I was always afraid of being “that” parent. I am proud to be “that” parent now.
Being “that” parent has helped me deal with Blake’s schooling, and argue with insurance when they say a bath chair is a convenience item or a stander will not change the outcome for my child. “That” parent knows and wields power for the betterment of the child.
I will be “that” parent forevermore.
If I meet him again, I would thank that young doctor for being pushy and pushing me to find my voice that was too timid and lost for a while.