One doctor’s specialty: indifference

Note: This column appears in the 8/6 issue of The Glendale Star and the 8/7 issue of the Peoria Times

Two weeks ago our foster daughter woke up crying in the middle of the night yelling “I sick!” We took her temperature and it read 103.5.

It wasn’t that surprising to us, as she had felt a little warm when we put her to bed that evening. Also, things had been progressing too healthily over the past few days for something like this not to happen. My wife and I compromised: she would stay home with her that day, but I was going to take her to the pediatrician’s office before work. This was obviously going to be a fantastic day.

Because of the circumstances we could not go to our regular pediatrician, but we had been to this office before when our foster daughter had pink eye. I remember because it was like “Children of the Corn” in the waiting room, with kids walking around like zombies. Some were crying and others sat silent with breathing masks on. My only retreat from the horror was wiping away the constant stream of gook oozing from our foster daughter’s eyes, which was gross, but better than surveying the surrounding scene. And even though we waited for what seemed like three years to get called in, the doctor was nice, professional, and our little one was better a few days later.

This time was a little different.

Besides burning up, she had been saying that her “mouth hurt,” which we translated to mean that her throat was sore. When I told the nurse this, she placed her down to swab her throat. Now, I am 31 years old. Getting my throat swabbed is probably the most uncomfortable thing in the world this side of a rectal exam, which I may or may not have experienced before. This girl is 3-years old. It was not pleasant.

She was still crying when the doctor stormed in a few seconds later. The first thing he said to me, in a huff, was, “I was just about to go home.” Apparently, I was supposed to feel guilty about my foster daughter waking up with a 103.5 temperature as his shift was about to end. My bad, doc.

Without any coddling or small talk whatsoever to make a sick and scared three-year-old feel more comfortable, he started jabbing her with things and talking to her like she was my age. "What hurts?" he asked bluntly, and incredulously, as if this was all one big scam. Our little one, still crying and now confused, said her eye and head hurt. Then the doctor condescendingly quipped, “Yeah, sometimes the story changes on the ride over here, huh?” He then told me to give her children’s Motrin and rushed out of the room.

I was made to feel like an overbearing parent that overreacted and inconvenienced someone who is paid handsomely to treat children. Our little one was left dazed by the whole experience. When I went to complain at the front desk, no one was there.

Luckily for me, I just so happen to write for the local paper, where I can embark on personal crusades under the guise of public interest. So let this serve as my official complaint.

If you’re reading this doc, you know who you are. Maybe I caught you on a bad day. Maybe you are just bad at your job. Maybe you watch too much “House.” Whatever the case, see you again the next time our kid gets sick? I’d rather have a rectal exam.

Even Dr. Nick would have been better...