Another day...

Jun 02 2011 Published by under Medical Musings, Medicine

My poor, poor blog.  So neglected.  So much quackery left un-busted.  It turns out that real life can sometimes be more consuming than other interests.  After a significantly disruptive illness, life rarely snaps back to it's previous shape, but slowly takes on new forms and habits.  I no longer have to bathe MrsPal and pack her wounds daily, but I still have to give her IV fluids and help her with medications.  I no longer have to cancel patient time to pick up PalKid or get to the hospital to visit my wife, but she's still a needly little thing (the Kid, that is), clinging to me like one of those stuffed monkeys with the Velcro hands and feet.

And of course, the needs of my patients don't change at all.  An abnormal chest x-ray is just as important no matter what else is happening in my life.  Patients have a doctor, not a team, at least not usually, and that doctor is responsible for gathering and communicating data, facilitating testing and consultations, and all sorts of other time-sensitive work.  Many jobs are like that I suppose, but from my biased viewpoint, doctoring is different.

I'm currently  having an ethical discussion with myself (not aloud) about whether I can make up a bottle of Placebo for PalKid.  At night as attention starts to focus away from her, her throat hurts, or her lip, or some other boo-boo and she wants medicine.  It seems foolish to pump her full of ibuprofen, but she sees me giving Mommy medicine and helping her feel better.  I'll probably never make up that bottle, probably never give her as much attention as she wants, but she'll probably get as much as she needs.

20 responses so far

  • Tsu Dho Nimh says:

    Cling to the kid, care for the wife.

    We can take care of ourselves for now. And for as long as it takes.

  • Melissa (aka DrSnit) says:

    You will never know how much sharing your stories heals us all. Real life is a doozie. Thank you for being in our lives. Until you can bust quackery- we'll be here!

    much love!

  • KWombles says:

    I hope your wife gets better soon. I've missed your posts, but like Tsu Dho Dimh, we'll take care of ourselves for now (and fight the quackery) and we'll be waiting when you're able to resume more active blogging.

  • Rose says:

    Take care of your family first. The blog will be here when you're ready.

  • Pascale says:

    Remember those Texas nurses who they tried to prosecute for reporting the doctor for some quackery last summer? Their story will be told on NPRs This American Life this week. Show airs Saturday in Omaha.

    So don't fret. Others are still busting quacks.

    • PalMD says:

      For that, I am truly grateful. There is such a long list of shady characters in that whole affair. And one true, unmitigated quack.

  • El Picador says:

    And don't forget just a smidge of time for yourself on all of this..

  • A. Marina Fournier says:

    I don't think I ever had Boo-Boo juice for my son when younger, and I don't recall how old PalKid is, but perhaps some sort of cuddle-toy would be in order.

    First, I'd have a special time with her, like cocoa for her and your preferred caffeine/decaf beverage at a coffeehouse, and talk about her concerns and her recent increased need for your focused attention. I'd ask if there were something that might help when you can't give her all your attention, or even phrase it as "what would you do if you were the parent, and your daughter needed more of your time?".

    Once we moved from Santa Cruz to Silly Valley, he suggested we have a date night each week. Mostly, we go to places of his choice for a meal, but sometimes to movies.

    My son had a plush Chomper Land Before Time cartoon films--better than Barney, but still awfully syrupy. After a while we noticed that as "Daddy" to Chomper, Chomper was being used to process family and other interpersonal dynamics he didn't quite understand. When he was seven, Chomper was left behind at the hotel or airport or airplane, on the way back from Baltimore. I started looking on eBay for replacement Chompers. I bought one, only to find out it was not at all as close to a replacement as the photo seemed to be. The next one I found actually had a tooth fringe of felt--I couldn't remember if the toy had had that or not, but in all other respects, it was a match.

    Meanwhile, a postcard came from Chomper (I wrote with my off-hand) saying he was travelling about and would be home soon. A friend of mine sent another postcard a couple of weeks later, saying about the same, and the new one came very shortly after that.

    A. noticed the teeth, and asked. I said, he was indeed away, and the teeth came in during that time. He accepted that.

    Only this last year, at 16, did he mention this incident, saying that there really must be magic, since that had happened. He looked at me (I was driving), and suddenly asked, "Did you get a new one?" I admitted I had, and why. He was okay with that.

    A. had a whole family of T. Rex toys--the largest one was his "wife". We kept an ear out for the various dramas, in case additional help was needed.

  • =Blog, Schmog.

    Take care of yourself.

    We'll be here. Thinking of you all.

    Hugs all 'round.

  • DLC says:

    Hopefully Mrs Pal is on the mend.
    PalKid will get over her little illnesses without placebo -- perhaps a cool soothing glass of something given by Dad will help.
    And amid all this, don't forget to heal the healer as well. Take care of yourself!

  • stripey_cat says:

    Would your ethics be OK with something like rose- or lavender-water? When she complains of a headache or a sore throat or whatever, splash a bit on a hanky and lay it over the affected part, or rub a few drops onto her skin. Spending a few minutes with her lying down quietly, putting cool liquid on her skin, rubbing if there's a bruise or something; these should all help with the underlying stress and unhappiness that's causing her behaviour.

  • MaryP says:

    I had a bad episode of a chronic disease when my daughter was young. She started copying all my symptoms. I had to make sure she did not hear about any of them. I know that won't help in your situation but maybe it helps to know that we understand. My daughter then accepted it as normal when she spent Friday nights and weekend mornings in bed with me playing board games. Perhaps when Mrs. Pal gets well enough it is something they can try. In the meantime any little ritual with my daughter seemed to calm her and help her cope. Finding a way to "help" also helped her cope. Perhaps you can find something that "helps" her take care of Mrs. Pal. Anyway best wishes for a speedy recovery and a return to normal family life.

  • Gaythia says:

    I agree with MaryP, Maybe rather than just Daddy doctoring her, PalKid could use an opportunity to help Mommy, just like Daddy does?

    Maybe there needs to be an inspirational drawing or picture of the day at Mrs. Pals bedside, or short stories or poems to be read? Or even flowers from the garden? Someone above mentioned stuffed animals. It could be that one or two of these needs to overnight with Mrs. Pal. Just to watch over things, of course.

    My kids may have been a bit older, but after I had surgery, after I got home they had a checklist set up for me. Did Mommy drink her orange juice? Check. Fresh water at the bedside? Check. Tissue box where she can reach it? Check. TV programs selected? Check. Blankets covering toes? Check.

    • PalMD says:

      She's been a trooper. It both makes me proud and saddens me that she says, "Mommy, make sure to take your morning meds."

  • Mara says:

    I don't think there's anything wrong with a bottle of placebo for your child. I like the suggestion of lavender or rose water. But whatever you think will make her feel better right now is probably a good idea. Because if she's worried about her mommy, then whatever makes her feel better *is* medicine.

  • daedalus2u says:

    I don't think a placebo would be a good idea unless she knows it is a placebo.

    If she does start using a ritual to get through stressful situations, I think you should help her to choose a ritual that won't have adverse effects if taken to extremes.

  • daedalus2u says:

    There is pretty good research showing that activities that enhance oxytocin release do act to reduce stress and accelerate healing.

    Fostering activities that do that might be helpful. Taking care of something that can be anthropomorphized, dolls, stuffed animals, or plants might help. Once something is being cared for long term, the care can be thought about even while not actually doing it, what to plant, when to weed, when to water next.

  • daedalus2u says:

    Radishes grow really fast, as does lettuce, and both are known to help sick mommies. Lettuce has a lot of nitrate in it. 😉

  • Chelsea says:

    Ask PalKid to help out with mom and praise when she does well.

  • K.F. says:

    Unvarnished, unasked for, non-medical opinion alert. I feel that it is not a good thing to give a placebo and by this, set a precedent that any discomfort a person is feeling needs to be treated with medicine. It can lead to overuse of prescription medicine or other drugs in later adult life. Better to explain that sometimes people have anxieties and worries that can make one feel ill, and one can take comfort in other ways. How about giving her a stuffed bear to cuddle, or try a massage pillow that vibrates or listening to a little music through headphones on a kid-friendly cd-player at night when she's feeling the need for comfort and you are all tired out. I offer my apologies if this advice is offensive to you - as coming from a lay-person who is not in the medical field. But I know of too many adults who constantly seek to medicate their issues away, when these are not really things that require medicine, and could better be addressed by relaxation techniques, meditation, tai chi or other exercise or just addressing the underlying issues rather than masking them with medicines.