Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Healthcare and my kids... you want me to do WHAT?

I find myself getting more and more frustrated with our health care system and their opinions of what is necessary for my children. Even in the nine years since I had my first child it has gotten more and more ridiculous.

When I had Eden, my now five-year-old, our pediatrician was freaking out about how small she was. Maybe I'm not small enough to warrant having a small child? She was 6 pounds 2 ounces and didn't grow very quickly. It was suggested that maybe she wasn't growing because I was strictly breastfeeding her. Never mind the fact that she was perfectly proportioned (ie. head circumference matched the rest of her body), that her color was good, that she was active, content and developing perfectly. In order to be a 'good mommy' and not be reamed by the Dr.'s office I had to go in once a week to have her weighed. Once a week. Can you imagine being a busy mommy and having to drag your infant child and four-year-old into a germ-infested office every week to have your perfectly healthy baby weighed and your parenting scrutinized?

I can't tell you how many times antibiotics have been thrown at both my kids. Now that we have a new, well-educated Dr. we can take an antibiotic script home with us and only fill it if the illness doesn't improve. We've had about three ear infections clear up on their own w/o antibiotics.

Last time I had her in for a checkup I was told that a new chicken pox vaccine is being administered, since the first one my kids got at one year of age is now resistant to a new strain of the virus. I refused it.
It was also suggested to me that we should being to consider giving her the Gardasil vaccination. HUH? You want me to pump an experimental drug into my young girl? A vaccination that MAY prevent only CERTAIN types of cervical cancer? My child who isn't even developing in that area? You have got to be kidding. Needless to say, I didn't hesitate in making my opinion known.

Yesterday I took my dental-phobic son in for a cleaning. The hygienist was awesome, kept his nerves at bay and made the whole process nearly enjoyable. Then the dentist comes in and thoughtlessly throws her opinion at him that he needs braces at him. ARGH! She didn't even wait till I was in there. When she finally did discuss with me that he should see an orthodontist specialist she said that he would probably wear a wire device for a few years to stretch his teeth apart so that when he finally got braces it would be 'as bad'. Again... are you on drugs or something? Make him wear metal in his mouth for about four years???? I had braces in high school. I had already been through elementary and Jr. high school and was very confident in myself and my looks. Can you imagine wearing metal in your mouth through the rest of your elementary and early middle school years? I told him on the say home to not even worry about what she said. "Johnny, forget that she even said that. Dad and I will discuss what is best for you and what is common sense."

I Went home and had an interesting discussion with John about the connection between private dentist and orthopedic specialists... about the kick-backs that these dental offices get for their referrals to specialists. This makes me angry. This makes me sad. This makes me feel like less of a patient and more of a potential money-maker.

I was recently reading a Newsweek article about the The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This manual is the 'bible' by which pharmaceutical companies decide which conditions warrant medications. If something is considered an 'illness' a medication can be manufactured and distributed. What was once considered 'shyness' is now an illness called 'social anxiety disordered' and is generally medicated. This is what scares me though, this 'bible' has more than doubled in the last ten years. Not only that, but more than half of the researchers who defined this book have at financial ties to the drug companies who design the medications.

People who have educated themselves on the subject can have frank conversations with their doctors about what medications they do and do not need, but what about us parents? I wonder how many parents crack under the pressure of being a 'good mommy' or a 'responsible daddy'? Five years ago I didn't refused to bring my infant in for weekly weight tracking, because I wanted to be a good mom. I didn't want it written in my child's health record for all eternity that I turned down a recommended treatment. Maybe some parents will decide to have Garasil injected into their little girls because, with the best of intentions, they want what's best for them. I hope we all start to use common sense in to determine what really is best.

Stepping off my soapbox now.


Charlene said...

Soooo true. You hit the nail on the head!
Good for you for standing up is so hard when it's our kids, but that's what makes them even more important to take seriously than the ones for ourselves.
(and what??? about the chickenpox vaccine? I have never heard anything so insane!! The rest I believe or had heard, but that's just beyond anything!)

Nonnie said...

Boy do you have this system pegged! My cousins little girl ended with this blood disorder that they thought was lukemea at first, but it turned out it was caused from the shots our babies get. Now because of that her physical growth rate is so slow that she is shorter than rest of the kids in her class. Doctors. They think they know it all. Good for you for standing up for your children. You go girl!

ChloƩ said...

Wow, this is insane! Good for you and for your kids that you spoke out, they definitely deserve what's good for them and not what's good for the medical industry! Hang in there, Val, you're a fabulous mom!

Anonymous said...

Yikes - in the UK it's all a bit different. Yeah, we have problems but still.... Incidentally, re the breastfeeding, you would have been CELEBRATED here for that. I couldn't for a variety of reasons (we were in and outta hospital for the 1st mo because dd lost 40% of body weight)and a lot of help was withdrawn because I ended up bottling her. You'd thought I suggested giving her Big Macs. I ended up not buying any more parenting magazines because I was sick of the implication I was a bad mother. Said DD is now 18mo. walking, talking, singing gloriously, eating BRILLIANTLY, settled into a sleep routine, happy, happy, happy. no doubt I will continue to feel guilty about it for a lo-o-o-ong time yet. Stay on your soapbox xx

Anonymous said...

I SO agree with you about educating yourself when it comes to healthcare and your kids. We refused the chicken pox vaccine for our kids until they were approaching teenage, at which point we decided it was time to vaccinate. Others we have gotten, some we have continued to refuse because we feel it is currently in the best interrest for our kids. I can't believe they wanted you to do weekly weight checks for your healthy breastfed baby. Don't they know that every baby grows at their own rate? With one of ours we were on the other end - healthy, well proportioned, and way off the top of the charts - and they wanted to check up on him too. He is now 15, 6'3", and still well proportioned and healthy, and there are now a few boys his age that are finally starting to catch up with him. With 5 kids, I could list many more instances of being educated meant getting the right care for my kids. Keep yourself educated and stick to your guns when it comes to your kids - and you! You know them better than any doctor ever will.