I have just spent the past 6 hours navigating medical care for Michael. He came down with a cold two weeks ago and has not been able to throw it. He has been back at school but has been coughing a tremendous amount (particularly at night) and has just not been feeling himself. Two nights ago he spiked a fever. This morning he woke up after coughing all night and looked absolutely terrible.
Given a choice I will always go the alternative route for our medical care; our naturopath and chiropractor are our front line health care. However, this morning I felt that a visit to the doctor was in order. Being a Saturday, I needed to contact the on-call doctor (which is a group of doctors who cover each other’s practices after hours and over the weekend). The doctor returned my call within the hour and we were seen immediately (with no long and boring wait).
The on-call doctor was very concerned about the rattling and wheezing in Michael’s chest and diagnosed him with pneumonia. The discussion following was whether or not to put him on the massive dose of penicillin required before he had a chest x-ray (which would determine whether it was viral or bacterial). Michael and I had a fantastic conversation about using penicillin when it is not absolutely required and we decided to hold off until after Monday morning’s chest x-ray. We also decided that a 4-5 hour wait at McMaster Emergency for an x-ray was not what either of us felt like.
The doctor did recommend filling the prescription just in case Michael spiked a high fever in the night. If that was the case we would start the prescription immediately. We went to the pharmacy where I had a long discussion with the pharmacist about the correct dosage, liquid or capsules, and pros and cons for delaying the course of treatment. She told me she would have the prescription ready for pick up and that they were open until midnight. This meant that we did not have to fill a prescription we might not need but that it would be available at a moment’s notice.
While I was waiting to speak to the pharmacist, I posted Michael’s diagnosis on Facebook. Within the half hour my mom called feeling very concerned. My mom is an incredibly grounded and wise woman and she is always a rock for me when it comes to anything happening in my family. She was very supportive of our chosen course of treatment but was surprised that there wasn’t an emergency imaging clinic in Hamilton. To be honest, that had not even occurred to me. After a quick Google search I found the McMaster Urgent Care Centre (which just so happens to be 5 minutes from our house!)
I called the Urgent Care Centre to make sure they could do an x-ray from a doctor outside the clinic and the uber-friendly voice over the phone gave me a resounding ‘yes’. Michael and I bundled back into the car and hurried right over. The receptionist that I had spoken to on the phone was bright and cheerful and, as it turns out, the complete foil for the x-ray technician who very sourly informed me that the clinic does not accept outside requisition forms (but she was willing to make an exception) and that I would not have the results until Tuesday.
After Michael went into the x-ray room, the receptionist bustled over with a big smile on her face and told me to pay no mind to the surly technician and then returned to her post. She was so warm and friendly that I decided to advocate for what Michael needed next (which was for the x-ray to be read and reported on tonight). I approached the friendly receptionist and asked her how I could achieve an earlier x-ray reading and she gave me the name and pager number of the Radiologist on call at McMaster Hospital.
All it took was another call to the on-call doctor and within 45 minutes I had a diagnosis! The x-ray was clear and Michael just has a nasty case of viral bronchitis. I phoned the pharmacist, cancelled the penicillin order and bundled Michael up on the couch to tuck in for the evening.
As I sit here all cozy and warm and the snow is swirling beautifully outside my window, I am feeling deep and Radical appreciation and I just need to share.
- I appreciate the fact that I have the opportunity to access all kinds of care for my family (naturopathic, allopathic, chiropractic etc. etc.)
- I appreciate that, if required, there are drugs available that can turn a bacterial infection around in 24 hours
- I appreciate that we have national health care and all the medical care we got today was covered by OHIP
- I appreciate that Shopper’s Drug Mart is open until midnight and is a ten minute drive away
- I appreciate that I can always see a doctor within my family of doctors
- I appreciate my mom
- I appreciate that there are people who are working in front line medicine who are warm, professional and helpful and are willing to go above and beyond the job description
- I appreciate that if Michael is not feeling better by Tuesday next week that we can start the process all over again
- I appreciate that I am not a mother living a century ago when this kind of infection could be potentially fatal
- I appreciate that we are settled comfortably in our warm, lovely and cozy house on this cold wintry evening
- And, finally…I appreciate the privilege of being able to reach out to whomever is reading and share my story and my feelings of Radical appreciation! 🙂