Doctors Don’t Know Everything

This last week has been hard. Last Monday, we put the kids back into daycare. Dexter for two days a week and Dash full time. This all in an effort to make sure they both get social skills and interaction. Daniel, in particular, needs to be around other people. He’s had mama full time for nearly ten months, and the kid is ADDICTED to me. Not that I’m complaining, mind.

So when it comes to daycare, as we learned earlier this year, daycare is a breeding ground for germs, and it doesn’t take long at all for a kid to get sick.

So when Daniel started getting all sniffly and full of mucus, we were prepared. He’s had his flu vaccines already, and while it sucks that he’s miserable, it’s nothing we can’t handle. He has a check up later this week, so if he’s not better by then, we will get some help. The worst thing about it is that the blocked tear duct he had when he was born is back with a vengeance. His poor eyes are pink and puffy and constantly gummy. He’s got yellow “eye boogers” which are constant. Literally I can clean them with a warm wet rag and in seconds they are just as bad.

Baby with a Cold

His nose is very crusty, as well, and it seems to be causing him pain. He fights like a wildcat if we try and wipe it. Poor boy. Luckily he is a VERY happy baby, and he has been in great spirits, despite his obvious discomfort. You can’t keep that kid from smiling.

Smiling baby with a cold

But this week was hard for more than just Daniel’s cold. We have had some drama with Dexter, as well. I wrote last week about our visit to the audiologist, where the doctor told us that his ears are so blocked with wax that the tests are not accurate. She advised us to go to our pediatrician and ask him to thoroughly clean Dexter’s ears, making sure there isn’t a sign of wax. She wanted us to do it right away and then work with the doctor to develop a good regime where we can do it ourselves.

So on Thursday, I took Dexter to the pediatrician (an appointment that was already in the books) and asked our doctor to clean his ears. The doctor seemed put out to be asked. I told him what the audiologist had said, and I said that we could go to an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor if he thought it was necessary. He asked why I didn’t just do it myself, and I said that his associate had told me last time that it’s best if a doctor does it, as they are professionals and more careful.

doctorvisit
playing in the doctor’s waiting room

Our doctor then asked if I shop at Publix (which is next door to his office). I said that we did. He said that if I wanted to ever shop at that Publix again, I shouldn’t have them clean his ears too often, as he will just associate that Publix with pain. He proceeded to tell me about taking his dog to a kennel and every time they went over a certain bridge on the way, the dog would start freaking out, as he knew where they were going.  I must have looked a little weird, as he then grabbed his tools and said he’d be right back.

Now I have to say that Dex had his ears cleaned about 6 weeks ago at this same office by the other doctor on staff. We were warned then that it is not a comfortable procedure, but it wouldn’t hurt him. At that time, Dex actually smiled through the whole thing. The doctor and the nurse holding him down were amazed. He was totally unfazed, and a TON of wax was removed. Once again, my kid was super hardcore.

So I didn’t expect this time to be any different. The doc had me hold Dexter’s arms down by his side, and he held up his tool. At the last second he looked at me and said, “Now I shouldn’t have to tell you that some red stuff is normal and doesn’t mean I’ve poked through his eardrum.” I got a little nervous, but nodded. Yes, of course. But that wouldn’t happen because last time everything was fine.

He set to work, and it was only SECONDS before Dexter began to scream. Tears poured from his eyes, and he begged for mercy. “STOP! Mommy! HELP! OWIE!”

Every part of me was in agony watching his little face. But I know he can get very upset very easily these days, and I assumed that he was just making a big deal out of a tiny bit of discomfort.  The doctor was pulling a LOT of red lumpy wax out, and there was an obvious amount of blood. I swallowed hard. Okay, maybe it was more painful than I thought ,but still… the doctor had warned me. Sometimes we have to suffer a little pain for the greater good. I soothed my baby and gave him all the comforting words I could think of.

Then it was time to change positions to do the other ear. But as soon as I set him down, he was frantic. He begged me to stop the doctor, and though I was extremely sympathetic, I still thought I was doing the best thing. The doctor dug into the other ear, and while Dexter again screamed in agony, no blood appeared this time.

Finally it was over, and I grabbed him up and held him to me. He clung on to me, sobbing. I felt like the worst mother, but again, I thought it was going to be okay. The doctor told me that the first ear might bleed a little for a couple of hours but would then stop.

God, I can’t even write this without crying.

Over the next 24 hours, I sopped up so much blood from that ear. It didn’t stop. I vowed that if it was still bleeding in the morning, I would take him to Urgent Care. But the next morning, the blood in his ear was mostly just dried and it looked much better. Though he complained of pain, I still took him to daycare, warning them that he’d had his ears cleaned and that there was dried blood.

Hours later, when I picked him up, we realized there was a big problem. That first ear still had some blood coming out, but more worryingly, the OTHER ear was leaking great globs of green pus mixed with blood. I was frantic.

We took him immediately to the Urgent Care center. The doctor there diagnosed him with TWO perforated eardrums!  I was LIVID, as you can imagine. I’ve never been in this situation before. The urgent care doc said that they don’t even clean ADULT’s ears with those tools, preferring to flush them with water. He was amazed the pediatrician had done it.

I am completely floored. A weekend full of antibiotics has helped, and this morning the pus is gone. He’s got a 10 day course, though, to be sure they heal properly.

If you ever wondered what a perforated eardrum looks like, here you go. If you haven’t got a strong stomach, look away now!

perforated eardrum with blood and pus

I am so angry at the doctor, as I think he was rushing and didn’t want to be doing it, and this awful thing happened. But more than that, I am angry at myself for letting down my son. I should have taken his cries seriously and stopped the procedure at his first scream. I blindly trusted the doctor because he is a professional, but I didn’t trust in my son that he needed my intervention.

I will never make that mistake again.

Many people have urged me to sue the doctor and to report him to the AMA. I intend to go in there this afternoon and make a formal complaint, but I am still thinking things through. I am angry on behalf of my child, but I am also a pragmatist, and I know that even if the doctor had taken his time and been very willing, an accident could have happened.

I wonder what you would do if you were in my position?

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Katie Reed

Katie Reed

Katie Reed is a 38 year old mom blogger from Salt Lake City, UT. She is married to the man of her dreams and together they have four beautiful boys. Dexter is 9, Daniel is 7, Chester is 5 and Wilder is 2. She writes about living with mental health issues while navigating motherhood. Her blog focuses on tips and tricks for moms, information and parenting news, kid-friendly recipes and crafts. She loves to reflect on the humorous side of parenthood and shares the reality of her life, with a "warts and all" attitude.

11 Responses

  1. It was your fault. The doctor even asked you why you couldn’t to do it. Suing is extremely inconvenient because it’s your fault. Next time, go to Walmart and buy an ear cleaning kit and do it yourself.

    1. Excuse me Alex, no. While the mother could have done this on her own, a doctor using tools that they aren’t really supposed to on ADULTS is very much the DOCTOR’S fault.

  2. while i do believe you should routinely clean your children’s ears, i do not believe this situation was “your fault” as one extremely judgemental person might have commented.

    the more offensive issue here is the behavior of your son’s doctor. one perforated eardrum is enough but both seem almost intentional. i would not let that man near my child, no one should

  3. Have you never heard of play dates? None of your children should “have” to go to daycare for socialization. Kids need there moms and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. It’s normal for them to be with you full time, that’s your job. Babysit a friends kid if they need socialization. Daycares are not meant for children despite what society has brainwashed you into thinking and justifying.
    – Mother of 4 happy, healthy, socialized kids, full-time, stay at home Mom who’s kids have never set foot in a daycare in their lives. Sorry about the ears, but that is not the only thing wrong with this article.

    1. Damn Holly, someone is a pretentious asshole. You’ll be sorry when your children fall behind and don’t have the skills those who went to daycare have. You could not have missed the point of this story more. Kids get ear infections, doctors should be able to take care of it appropriately.

  4. Hi Katie, this is obviously a very late comment, but I would like you to know that the doctor’s lack of precaution is entirely his fault. Normally, a warm water lavage is done and not sticking tools inside a child’s ear that caused not only one, but TWO perforated ear drums. Also, not everyone has the means to be a stay-at-home mom and it doesn’t make you any less of a mom. Kids get exposed to germs and it builds their immune systems in the process. No parent is perfect and neither are doctors, but his actions were not only reckless, but actually caused harm, which doctors vow not to do.

  5. Do you want a cookie, Holly? Not everyone has the luxury of being a stay at home mom. Your kids aren’t any better than anyone else’s kids, either. Hopefully you home school them as well because if you take them and just throw them in school without the socialization skills they will be lacking in, it’s going to be hell for your kids and you. They may get mislabeled as being autistic or mentally challenged because they will more than likely throw a tantrum if their way is denied or if they don’t know how to deal with a disagreement with one of their peers. Or if they are afraid to get in on the action and prefer to stay off to the side and just observe quietly. So don’t pat yourself in the back to quick and hard and don’t be so damn judgmental. It makes you seem pretentious. I have seen the exact scenarios played out with a friend’s children that I described above. Yes she went on plenty of play dates for socializing. But not everyone’s kids socialize like yours and your friends kids. Putting a child in daycare even if you can stay at home with them for a few hours a day will not harm them and it does not a bad mom make.

  6. Isn’t it just astonishing…. doesn’t matter what you write; how honest and complete your description of your terrible experience. It doesn’t matter that sometimes the bravest thing to do is put yourself out there, ask others for their advice. There is always some arrogant, hostile person desperate to knock you down a peg or two, just to boost their own self esteem.
    They don’t realise that they have fooled no one, and have immediately lost the credibility of their comments to boot.
    At the end of the day, we are all humans beings (and in this case even parents of tiny humans) trying to do our best in life for ourselves and nearest and dearest for which you should be praised not blamed.
    You followed the instructions of one health professional and at the end of the day it is this doctors competence that should be in question not yours!
    IMHO, a nurse should carry out ear lovage as they will almost certainly do it more often therefore be more skilled at doing it well without causing damage. In this case one perforated eardrum was accidental (aka careless) two is just plain incompetence.
    I hope your little boy is fine now and has no lasting hearing or balance issues.

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Katie Reed [A Mother Thing] is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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