1. WAITING ROOM TOYS: Our local surgery used to provide a couple of toys for the little ones to spit all over during the long wait. The star of toy corner was an activity centre thing shaped like a dog’s face. You pull its tongue, roll its eyes, push its nose, you know the drill. That dog was a beacon to every boogey nosed, feverish, rashed-up kid in the ‘hood. If your kid wasn’t sick when you walked in, it would definitely be afterward. I christened it Vomit-Dog. I’ve met other mums who had named him as well: Death-Dog, Spew-Puppy, Poo-Pooch etc. Poo-Pooch is gone now - the doctors realised he was a cesspit of infectious disease. These days, to keep the kids quiet in the waiting room, I show them pictures of Hugh Jackman in Woman’s Day, and to date, this hasn't made anyone sick.
2. NO APPOINTMENT NECESSARY: No one plans their illnesses. No one pre-empts their kid getting up at 5am and projectile vomiting across the room. Generally, when you call to make an appointment, it’s impromptu. Have you ever called your doctor on Monday because you suspect that by Wednesday you might have the flu? My mum does this every week but I’m sure you don’t. By the time you call the doctor, you’re probably feeling pretty sad and sorry for yourself and would maybe like a little cuddle and a cup of tea. You certainly don’t want ‘Sorry love, we’re fully booked today. Next appointment’s Saturday.’ Really?! I might be dead by Saturday!!! Why does this happen? Can’t they factor in a few unexpected illnesses? Surely there is such a thing – we’ve had three in three weeks and I’m sure we’re not alone. Anyone?
3. PEEING INTO A CUP: Now big thinkers, here’s the irony…Why is it that you can’t see your doctor at the drop of a hat, but when the doctor says ‘could you please go into the bathroom and pee into this cup’ you’re expected to waltz into the communal lavatory and split your whiskies on cue, just like that. What if you’re not ready? What if you’re dehydrated? Yick! What if you actually manage to do one? Then you have to carry the warm little jar of pee back from the bathroom and into the surgery. Past all those people in the waiting room. Past Vomit Dog whose eyes are always watching. And everyone thinks you're pregnant. Here’s my hot tip: in winter, shove the jar up your sleeve and act normal. Here’s my hot, hot tip: In summer, wear long sleeves to the doctors just in case. What could be worse?
4. STOOL SAMPLES! – I’ve been blessed so far to not require one of these myself but I did need one for my daughter once and that was an epic adventure because the reason she was being tested was… constipation! I can’t remember how long it took me to get that sample, or who suffered more during the wait. Let’s say her, poor cherub. We eventually got the sample, and I carried the little pot of turd around in my handbag until I could get it safely back to the doctor. It even came to the park with us for reasons I can’t remember now, but I did protect that poop like a golden nugget – it was harder to come by and therefore much, much more valuable.
5. CONDESCENDING DOCTORS: First I’m going to mention all the fabulous medical staff we’ve encountered lately. They were quick, switched-on and made being sick as fun as it could possibly be for a kid. Now I’m going to tell you about Mr Condescending. Mr Condescending actually looked down his (large) nose at me and said ‘it’s funny how symptoms disappear when you walk into the hospital.’ Yep. Because a 7 year old can fake a 39-degree temp. And vomiting. And can make her body flop on cue and knows how to roll her eyes into the back of her head. I must have forgotten my daughter was possessed. Really? When you’re worried enough to take your child to hospital, do you need to be made to feel like an idiot as well? Here’s my last tip: Even if they make you feel like a dramatic, overreacting helicopter mum, always do what you think is right for your child, because in the great words of that evil witch on Rapunzel “Mamma knows best.” And we usually do.
Incidentally, my demonised daughter ended up having glandular fever, which the big-nosed doctor failed to pick up. I developed a slight crush on our ENT surgeon, who is at least 15 years my senior, balding and never going to read this blog, so I’ll say what I like about his gentle caring ways. And finally, if you ever have to collect a stool sample, may it be for constipation, as I presume this would be better than diarrhea.