Yesterday was spent at the doctors. Pretty much the whole day, in fact. Okay, maybe that’s stretching the truth a little bit, but basically from the time we left the house for a quick appointment until we got home and settled in for the evening, somewhere around six hours had gone by! It was a crazy day.
Last week, Mark had stepped in to relieve me of the burden of trying to find Dexter a pediatrician. I had been calling around for weeks, and for some reason I had never been able to get through to the doctors I wanted. But with me being so ill lately and bed rest being a bit of a joke with a toddler around, he was keen to get Dexter into daycare to help give me time to recover. And the only way to do that was to make sure that Dex’s immunisation records were up to date and in line with US and Florida policies.
So off we went at 2PM to meet Dr Renuart. A very funny and affable man he seems to be, engaging with the parents AND the kids, and while Dexter was not impressed with him (he’s going through a phase where he likes to hide from anyone who isn’t mommy or daddy), we were able to keep him happy enough for the exam.
After making copies of his UK baby records, we were led into an exam room by a lovely nurse. It turned out that she was originally from England (Hertfordshire, to be somewhat exact!), though she had been in the US for 13 years. As that meant she had moved here when she was 10, she didn’t have even the SLIGHTEST accent.
She weighed Dexter in at 27.2 lbs and then measured his height at just over 34 inches. She measured his head circumference, but I didn’t catch what it was. She asked if we had any concerns, and I explained that Dex has been ill for quite a while with a cough and runny nose and seems extra needy. After that, we were left to wait for the doctor.
When Dr Renuart came in, he was a big personality. He made loads of jokes and thought it was quite funny when Dex turned his back on him and hid his head against the bed until he left. I had a major coughing fit (or two or three) throughout the conversation, and he immediately picked up on it and asked if I’d been checked out and what I was doing for it. He compared the Robitussin with Codeine that my OB had given me to “scotch.”
He went through Dexter’s records and suggested that he was behind on about SIX vaccinations, but he was happy to sort them all out right then and there. The only thing he wanted was to test Dex for Flu and Strep throat first, as with the symptoms I’d described, he thought he might have either one. After listening to his lungs for a few minutes, he said he definitely had bronchitis, so the tests would decide if it was anything worse. He said the nurse would do the checks, and then he’d be back to speak to us.
To do the tests, I had to hold Dexter on my lap, keeping his arms pinned and holding his forehead so he wouldn’t fight. And while he did bite down on the wooden stick and gag as the q-tip hit his throat, he was actually pretty well behaved.
Then came the flu test, which meant sticking a Q-tip up his nose. He wasn’t too bad at that one, either, though I could tell he really didn’t like it.
After going off to do the rapid flu test, our nurse came back to do a couple of other checks.
First up, it was a little machine that checks for fluids in the ears. Dexter once again sat on my lap while she stuck it in and played around with the settings. She warned us that most kids don’t like it, but I explained that actually, Dexter is kind of obsessed with putting things in his ears and loves it when I take his temperature that way! As expected, he let her do her work in peace, though a couple of times he got excited and wanted to SEE what she was doing, so he wiggled a bit.
After she was satisfied with the results, she then ran a hearing check on him. I was very interested in this one because his earliest (and only!) hearing check in the UK had not been great. And he’s often not very good at responding to us if he’s not looking directly at us. When he was very young, our midwife and health visitor in the Uk had both pointed out that he only turned his head to the right when you spoke to him, and there was some worry about whether or not he could hear well.
Anyway, she used her machine to check him over, not giving us any answers and then left us to check the swab results.
After a few moments, the doctor came in and exclaimed, “I have good news! Your boy has the flu! And not just ANY flu, but Influenza B! And it’s a DOOZY!”
He said he also hadn’t passed his hearing test, but that because he had flu, he wasn’t going to worry about it quite yet. He was prescribing Tamiflu for him, which should clear it up, and we need to go back on Thursday morning to follow up.
He then turned to me and said, “I think you have something you need to tell your OB! Make sure you go get tested, as with that cough, you definitely have something to worry about!”
He also suggested that next door to his office was a regular GP we might consider registering with as he knew we didn’t have a doctor yet.
So off we went, prescription in hand, and tried to figure out the next step. Mark wanted to go to the next door doctor and see if we might register and/or be seen right away. But on going in, the receptionist just kind of made us feel stupid. When I explained that Dexter had just tested positive for flu and that I was 32 weeks pregnant, she said, “You need to go to your OB. She should be dealing with ALL of that.” I then explained that we would STILL like to register with them, as neither Mark nor I have a regular doctor, which we may need at some point. She smiled and simply handed me three business cards and waved us off. Oooookay!
When we got into the car, I immediately called my OB’s office and explained I needed to speak with someone. I was put through to the nurse line, but it went to voicemail. By this point, Dex was screaming because he didn’t want to get in his car seat, and so I hung up rather than leave a voicemail.
After he’d calmed down, I tried again, and this time I got through to a nurse. Once again, I explained the whole situation, and the nurse simply said, “Well go to your regular doctor.” I explained that I don’t HAVE a regular doctor and that when I’d tried to register with one, I was told to go to my OB. She snorted. Then she said, “Well go to an Urgent Care Center then.” Ooooookay!
Since we were near WalMart, I suggested we run over and get Dex’s prescription filled first. They said it would take about half an hour, so after we dropped it off, we headed to the Urgent Care centre (via McDonalds!) near our house. While Mark finished his chicken sandwich, I ran into the centre to get started. But when the receptionist took my details, he very apologetically told me that the wait was going to be at LEAST three hours. I looked around, considering the crowded waiting room and the hard wooden chairs, and I just said no way. I actually started CRYING, I was just so upset. I asked if I could register and then come back in a couple of hours, and he said no. I would have to wait there, as leaving would forfeit my place. I felt bad, as the guy clearly felt terrible, but there was no way I could spend three hours in that waiting room.
We headed back to WalMart to pick up Dexter’s prescription, but at the last second, Mark drove us to the Urgent Care centre across the street. He left me in the car and ran in to find out what the wait time was, and he came back with paperwork and said it was only half an hour. So while he went to pick up the prescription, I went inside and got registered.
We were very quickly led into a room, where Mark kept Dexter out of trouble so I could be looked over. I explained the situation to the nurse – that I had been ill for quite some time with many of the same symptoms as Dexter, and he had just tested positive for Influenza B. She took my blood pressure, which I didn’t see, and my temperature, and then she put the pulse/oxygen machine on me. My oxygen was only 90%!! As I coughed, the number went down to the low 80s!! Not good!
The doctor came in shortly afterward, and I explained it again to him. He was a bit surprised that Dex has the B virus, as apparently that’s the more uncommon one this year. But he listened to my breathing (which must have been hard, as I kept coughing dramatically on each intake of breath!) and said that my lungs sounded very “sticky” and that my wheezing was pretty bad. He said he didn’t THINK I had the flu, but that they would swab me just in case.
Luckily, the results came back negative. The doctor said that I have severe bronchitis, and he wanted to prescribe antibiotics and an inhaler to help my breathing. He said that there was much more he would WANT to do, but that being pregnant, I wasn’t allowed to have the medicines he would like.
They asked which pharmacy we’d like to use, and said they’d send it over straight away, but that it could take 30 – 40 minutes for them to receive it.
So off we went. After nearly two hours, Mark went back to pick up the prescription, and when he got there, he was told they had no record of it! Perfect! So he went BACK to the care centre to chase it up, and they swore they sent it over. But they agreed to call them immediately and get it sorted for us.
So back home Mark came, and we waited for the phone call that would tell us it was ready for pickup. Unfortunately the call came at ten minutes to nine. The pharmacy closes at 9 pm! So there was no way we could get it, even though the doctor had made sure to tell me to take the first dose of antibiotics right away.
Anyway, so now I am waiting for the pharmacy to open so we can go pick everything up. In the meantime, Dex will take his Tamiflu, and we will all pray very hard that I don’t catch the flu from him. Once we are both safely through our illnesses, I will be getting a flu shot, as is always recommended for pregnant women.
I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner.
Update 11:40 AM: Just returned from the pharmacy only to find that the inhaler prescription was never called in. I now have antibiotics, but nothing to help with my breathing. I broke down crying at the pharmacy, and I am too stressed out to call the urgent care center AGAIN. Mark says he will do it and sort it all out, but I have decided to hope for nothing, as I feel nothing but let down. The American medical situation is a JOKE.