Have you ever taken your child to the pediatricianâ€™s office, only to have to return a few days later because the diagnosis was off a bit? Some things are harder to recognize than others and present differently in children.
There are also those that seem so far-fetched that you would never expect the diagnosis to be given to a child, and itâ€™s not because it couldnâ€™t be. Sometimes we get our children into the doctorâ€™s office so soon that it has not fully presented and is harder to diagnose. Iâ€™ve had this happen in my own family.
Earlier this year, 12-year-old Rory Staunton of Queens, New York was sent home from the emergency room at NYU Langone Medical Center. He had suffered a small cut on his arm during basketball practice; nothing out of the ordinary. He went to the hospital because he was feeling sick in his stomach.
The doctors diagnosed him with having an upset stomach and suffering from dehydration. He was sent home and died four days later of septic shock from a staph infection. He died.
This story scares the hell out of me. This is one of my biggest fears as a parent: an undiagnosed or misdiagnosed medical condition that turns fatal. It may sound a bit extreme for the general population, but not for me. I had a student who was 9 years old. I saw her on Thursday and by the following Tuesday I was attending her funeral.
I donâ€™t know if youâ€™ve ever had the misfortune of attending a childâ€™s funeral, but it is something that sticks with you forever. The void that the loss left with her parents is something that I never want to experience, and the empty pained look in their eyes is something I will never forget. A parent should never have to outlive their child.
A child becoming unexpectedly, gravely ill can shock a parent into a new state of existence. It creates a fear that pushes you into overdrive to do anything and everything possible to save your child. As parents, we are propelled forward by the fear of losing our child and the all-consuming love that we feel for that child. There is nothing we wonâ€™t sacrifice because the thought of losing our child is a death sentence to most parents.
When I lost my student, I decided then and there that there would never be anything that I wouldnâ€™t do to save my child. If I have to question the doctors, ask stupid questions, solicit a second opinion or make heads roll, I will.Â I will because the alternative is too awful to even consider.
I always follow my gut feeling. If I feel treatment is not working or that there may be something more, I have no problem pushing for additional testing, returning to the office to be seen again or getting a second or even third opinion. I donâ€™t care if the doctors think I am pushy, crazy or obnoxious. I can live with all of that. I know I canâ€™t live without my children. I can mend fences and survive hurting a doctorâ€™s feelings.
Rory Stauntonâ€™s parents kept returning to the doctorâ€™s office. They did everything a parent could do, short of staging a protest and refusing to leave the hospital until they had him cured. But the original diagnosis was dehydration and he only had a small scratch. A scratch anyone of us can get on any given day of the week.
Unfortunately that scratch, which most of us would just chalk up to normal adolescent wear and tear, was already a dire situation. Bacteria had gotten into his body, probably through that scratch on his arm, and Rory was slipping into the hold of a septic death sentence.
But no one knew that was even going on. It was missed because no one looked for it, because why would they? It was just a small cut. How many times a week do our kids present with small cuts that mean nothing?
The doctors eventually sorted out Roryâ€™s diagnosis but, at that point, it was too late to save the 12-year-old from Queens. Rory Staunton is a painful reminder that as parents, we need to push past our own comfort zones in order to get the right medical attention that is needed for our children, because the alternative is too horrific to even think about.
Photo Credit: RoryStaunton.com