One For the Textbooks

Today let’s discuss a widely-known but rarely documented phenomenon that every mother has experienced.  I would like to propose to the American Academy of Pediatrics that we call this disorder, heretofore unnamed, Make-a-fool-of-mommyitis.  Let’s discuss.

Say, for example, your four-year-old son spends the entire weekend fever-ridden with a sore throat.  By the time Monday morning arrives, he is miserably ill and couch-prone.  Neither of you has slept, so you fall asleep on the couch during Go, Diego, Go and fail to call the pediatrician the minute they open.  You finally call, only to find that you must beg and plead for them to squeeze you in, which they cannot do until 3 pm.  Meanwhile, your four-year-old patient has begun wailing “my froat! my froat!”, and spends the rest of the day in agony.

Bear with me, this is where the disorder becomes serious.

Appointment time rolls around, and you manage to make arrangements for the older kids to play at a friend’s house, because of course, they are home from school today (research shows that the likelihood of Make-a-fool-of-mommyitis is directly proportional to the amount of trouble you took to get to the doctor).  You, the patient, and the baby drive to the doctor on sheets of solid ice (see statement, before) and skate across the parking lot.  You reach the waiting room, by which time your little patient is whimpering in agony.  As you check in, he wails, “I fink my froat is bleeding!”  and all the other mothers gather their children so they will not catch your child’s Ebola.  Finally, finally, they call you back to the exam room.  Oh, you are relieved–your precious child will finally be cared for!  But a funny thing has happened.

Your child is no longer sick.

Apparently, there is a miraculous healing agent floating in the air of exam rooms that causes children to become instantly well right before the doctor comes in.  The little boy who, one hour ago, was writhing in agony on the couch is now having sword fights using tongue depressors and pressing every button on the exam table.  He is laughing and making goofy faces while you explain to the nurse how miserable he is feeling.  She leaves, and you find yourself grabbing your child and saying through gritted teeth, “You’d better start acting sick, right now!”

As I said, this is a frequently occurring phenomenon that is deserving of its place in the medical text books.  With a footnote, of course, that the only cure for Make-a-fool-of-mommyitis appears to be a Waste-a-co-pay-ectomy.

This post was originally published on February 20, 2006

58 thoughts on “One For the Textbooks

  1. JanMary, N Ireland says:

    My dh is a paediatrician, and they even try this one in our house. I ring my dh, tired and worried about one of our off-spring, and he assures me he will be home soon, and to hang in there.
    The miraculous healing appears as soon as he drives home and opens the door. They leap from the sofa, dance around, singing “Daddy’s home!” and all ailments are forgotten….accept by me!
    Kids really undermine a mother’s street cred with the medical profession.
    Great lesson, which I will share with my husband (when he gets home!)

  2. Beachmom says:

    I am so happy to know this happens to someone else! I stress so much about taking the kids to the doctor as it is. When the miraculous healing happens 10 minutes before we see the doctor, I give them the total “you make sure you tell him how you have been feeling for the last 10 days … and Mommy means EXACTLY!”

  3. Lynnet says:

    I love it!!! God still works in miraculous healing! I My youngest will try this with us. Most of the time, we either tell him to “go poop”, “go throw up”, or “go to bed” and you’ll feel better. Mind you, we have the ultimate Drama King in the land. Usually this will cure him of whatever ailes him. Then of course, we feel bad when he really does have a fever, but this is rare for him. It’s mostly to get out of chores or something he doesn’t want to do!

  4. rrmama says:

    I am going through this right now. Oldest is sick, has fever and complains of an ear ache. I no longer have to wonder what will happen when we get to the doctors office. I feel like I have been given my very own fortune teller. Thanks!

  5. Mrs. Bick says:

    Oh, how I know this well. 🙂 And I agree with Lynnet. We tell them the same things if a tummy ache is the big complaint… “go poop”, “go to bed”… But sometimes there we pull out the big guns… the “vitamin medicine”. That’s right, the kids’ chewable, colored, animal shaped vitamin. Funny how they start feeling better after that!

  6. carlyn canady says:

    We suffer from this around our house as well. “My throat is hurting!” Cry, lay on the couch, lay on Mommy. “I can’t sleep because my throat hurts and I am stopped up!” Run a fever … as high as 102.7. Go to the doctor … walk in the door … play with the trains and all better! Co-pay Cure … here we come! I wonder if it would work the same if I put the $25 in her piggy bank and skip the trip to the doctor????

  7. Lisa says:

    Great post! I can so relate. Took d to emergency room Sunday after s “accidentally” hit her in the head with a carelessly thrown rock. All the way she wailed, told me her eyes burned, her head hurt. Cute tv-worthy ER doctor asked how she felt and she replied [and I quote] “fine.” Does your head hurt: “No.” UGH!!!
    Glad your kiddo is ok!

  8. chryssi says:

    Been there, done that, paid through the nose…I swear they like to visit just because they know they get a sticker at the end of the visit! Most expensive stickers in the land…
    But even better is when daycare calls because the little princess is running a slight fever and must be sent home. You get to school to see her running and playing, acting fine and having no symptoms other than a 99.9 degree fever. Teachers inform you that you can not return her to daycare without a doctor’s note because “it’s the rule” even though you argue that obviously she is totally fine and any idiot can see that WHAT THE HECK IS YOUR PROBLEM CHILDREN GET HOT WHEN THEY RUN AROUND DON’T YOU KNOW ANYTHING? You get to the doctor and explain to the receptionist, then the nurse, and finally the doctor as to just how totally incompetant your daycare is and obviously you need to find a new one and by the way do they have any reccommendations? And the doctor then informs you that not only does your little princess have strep, she has an ear infection as well.
    Worst. Mommy. Ever.

  9. Judy says:

    I took Travis to the Urgent Care clinic here Sunday morning – he was running 101 and complaining of his ear hurting as we were walking out the door for church. In the SEVEN minutes it took to drive over there and get seen by the nurse (there was no one else there), the fever disappeared and his ear was “miraculously” better! GAH!

  10. Laura says:

    We had this happen a few weeks ago. Baby boy had fever for three days, wouldn’t go away, lots and lots of crying and refusal to eat with no pooping. Took him to the ER, paid the $150 co-pay, six hours of waiting later with some EXPENSIVE motrin the triage nurse gave him and the fever broke, he pooped and THEN we get a room and a doctor to give him a chin staining popsicle and sent us on our way home. Whatever makes him feel better. I guess. I would have rather paid $3.99 for a box of popsicles and stayed home.

  11. Luke Holzmann says:

    Oh my. Not looking forward to that. I have a strong aversion to “waste” and doing things that need not be done, so I foresee that this will be a “growth area” for me [smile].
    ~Luke

  12. tracey says:

    Oh yes. You had BETTER be sick, kid, or I’ll make you sick. Good threat, I know…
    How about frantically taking your kid to the ER only to get him diagnosed (after expensive tests) with constipation? That’s always a good one…

  13. Amy says:

    We did that exact thing today. Strep throat, got in early, but no instant feeling better, just whining the whole time.
    The joys of motherhood!

  14. Kris @ Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers says:

    They (you know, the famous, all-knowing-but-ever-mysterious “they”) say that the things we find the funniest are the things that we can relate to in a BTDT kind of way. I guess that’s why I have found this so funny.
    My husband, who is working for pay for a visit to the emergecy room, a visit to the pediatrician, a 24-hour Holter monitor, a visit to the cardiologist, and a 4 week event monitor that didn’t record ANY events, apparently doesn’t share my sense of humor. 😉

  15. Tameka says:

    Glad to hear that this happens to so many. And what a name for it! Good thing for me is that my son (who is 4) like to do this when he has an ear infection. Good thing the doctor can still see that he – in fact – does have an ear infection even though DS is pretending like he’s superman about to jump off of the exam table!! lol..

  16. happyvalleygirl says:

    My son had a tick in his tukus and the school insisted that I take him to the doctor to have it removed in case the tick had Lymes’ Disease. I, a veteran Appalachian trail backpack guide who has pulled thousands of ticks and never lost a single person, second guessed myself and took my son in when I didn’t get all the tick out myself. Of course, by the time we reached the office, the rest of the tick had been rubbed off by my son’s boxer shorts. I got the ole “well, since you took the time to come in, I guess I should give you a bandaid.
    When I told the doctor what the school said, he laughed so hard he had to sit down. He then informed me that doctors don’t care if the tick is sick or not! To make matters worse, the whole episode messed up my entire day, which happened to be my 25th wedding anniversary.
    Not only was I laughed at by the doctor, scolded by the school secretary AND the school nurse, and also had a wastea-copay-ectomy, I lost a whole day’s work (I’m self employed), and try as I might, I couldn’t get the doctor’s office to bill the school. And believe me—–I sincerely tried!

  17. Yolanda says:

    That is hilarious. I remember the time that my son broke out in whelps all over his body from eating Ranier cherries. Of course by the time I got him to the appointment they were gone! I search his whole body until I found ONE on the inner corner of his thigh. CRAZY!! 🙂

  18. Melissa says:

    Oh, do I identify with the commenter about being sent home from school.
    I *dread* seeing the school’s name on my caller ID. My daughter is a supreme hypochondriac, and even though I tell the office staff and the teacher that every year, they still send her to the office when she complains of the least little thing. Those ladies in the office probably think I’m the world’s worst mom.
    They call and say, “We have Grace here in the office, she says she has a tummy ache. Can you come get her?”
    I ask, “Does she have a fever? Has she thrown up?” “No” “Let me talk to her.” (I say in my sweetest voice.)
    Grace gets on the phone and my voice turns sharp and I speak through gritted teeth, “Get your behind back to class and suck it up until school is out! Try to go to the bathroom if your tummy hurts. I am NOT coming to get you! Put the office lady back on the phone.” (Voice turns sweet again), “Grace is going to give class a try. Thanks for calling!”
    They must be thinking, “that mom must not care that her poor baby is probably dying!”
    Grrr.

  19. Elizabeth says:

    HA! On a Saturday my 13 year old ran a 2 mile race. During the race her foot started to hurt. Her coach and her parents told her she’d be ok. She then ran her 1 mile race. Still hurting, she was told she’d be ok. On Monday we left for Japan, where after the 1st week I called back to the States for an appointment. Stress fracture across the growth plate. Seeing another doc for an after check I felt the same thing you did- the doc could not find the pain she’d been complaining about. Well, she did not tell him that he was on the wrong toe, because she didn’t want to HURT HIS FEELINGS!! He figured it out by checking the chart. It’s still painful. An MRI is in our future, and cross country is out. Bummer.

  20. Jennifer, Snapshot says:

    One time my son woke up with a fever–a high fever. He was quiet and calm (a big tip off that he was sick, since he never sat still). I got him in at 9:30, and when I took him, he had the high fever. They asked if it had not gone down with medicine. I told him that I didn’t give him any.
    The way my kids rebound, if he didn’t have that fever, he would have been bouncing all around. If I was taking him to the doctor, I wanted him to be sick.
    He still made me look bad though, because I felt a bit chastened for not giving him medicine.

  21. Bridget says:

    I work in a pediatrician’s office and I promise the Dr. would much rather see a child act that way than have the parent not give the child medicine just so they will still have a fever when they get to the office. I swear they really do that.

  22. Sarah says:

    Ha ha! My problem is completely opposite. My little guy (2yr.) doesn’t act sick. There have been several times when I have gone for a “well-baby” check up only to find out he has a fever and a double ear infection. The doctor says, “did you know that C has a 102 degree fever and his ears are bleeding red?” Ummmmm…..no. As I stumble over my words, “I swear he wasn’t acting sick.” One time I took him for a checkup only to walk out with a nebulizer and a regimen for breathing treatments. What?! So, I too have experienced the same diagnosis but for the opposite reason. 😉

  23. Shelli says:

    LOL! I’ve also had a bout of Make-a-fool-of-mommyitis. My two year old woke up at midnight screaming with her hear. So it was logical for us to conclude there was an ear infection involved. I didn’t bother calling the drs office and just showed up to MAKE them work me in. After 8 hours of no sleep, crying, wimpering, fever and lathargy, her symptoms miraculously disappeared when we sat down in the waiting room. I tried to explain to the doctor what we’d endured and PROMISED she was indeed sick. He checked her and sure enough there was a grade 8 ear infection. So I asked, how can he act ok now? He explained the whole endorphine thing about how it will hurt for a while and then they kick in and it stops hurting for a period of time. It made me feel much better and reinsured the fact that I wasn’t crazy!

  24. Anne Glamore says:

    The other way this happens is if one is sort of sick so you take him and leave the others at home, only to return and find out they have the exact same symptoms but WORSE!! Now I take all 3 boys even if 2 say they feel great.

  25. Michelle says:

    It’s amazing how quickly they are “healed”. Mine will be sick as can be, horrible cough that never ends, fever, lethargic, yet the second the doctor walks in they are fine! No fever. No cough. Then I sit there trying to convince the doc that I. Am. Not. Crazy!

  26. Racheal says:

    I am so glad that you re-posted this blog entry! I went through that this last week. My daughter had the flu horribly all last Monday morning, but in the afternoon she appears to be recovering. Suddenly at 9:30 pm she starts screaming. I mean writhing in pain screaming. After a half an hour of realizing that this isn’t going to stop, we rush her to the emergency room…It is packed by the way. The nurses in a panic rush my daughter into a bed and the doctor orders and immediate ultrasound of her stomach. As soon as that was done, she proceeds to be fine. Acts as if nothing has happened and want to watch the tv in our little hospital area…A show on how to make ice cream by the way. She has been fine ever since. And with a $300 deductable to pay and a $100 emergency room copay on top of that I am really having to focus on being thankful that my child is well. 🙂 Silly thing is that I would do it again in a heart beat if I thought that my child was in danger or in pain.

  27. Georgetta says:

    My kids are rarely sick so I haven’t encountered this yet. But I remember my own mom being very annoyed when I didn’t cough during a doctor’s visit for a sore throat.

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