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Do you speak Medicine?

Once upon a time, I considered myself fluent in the language of medicine. I could easily translate phrases back and forth from standard English to technical jargon. Patient histories and differential diagnoses became a part of my everyday routine.  But that was before I changed career paths.

I was surprised to find myself floundering at the doctor’s office this morning. Bridoodle’s case of otitis media (a.k.a. the ear infection) has resulted in a persistent fever, which had me concerned over the weekend. The combination of extra naps and extra fussiness sent us to the pediatrician first thing today.

He checked her ears and found significant improvement. The previously infected ear has cleaned itself out nicely, and seems to be responding well to the amoxicillin. He thinks that the fever should subside within the next day or two. A rash may follow.

Then without much concern in his voice, he mentioned that if the fever persists through Wednesday that we should bring her back for a work up. Specifically he would like to do a urine test.

My mouth went dry at the mention of a urine test. I immediately conjured up images of my poor baby in the hospital with an IV sticking out of each arm. Rather than ask any more questions, I squared my shoulders and hoped that we wouldn’t come to that. Fifteen minutes later, as I was turning onto the highway, I began to connect the dots. A urine test, specifically a urine culture, would show whether or not my daughter’s bladder houses any unwanted bacteria. Duh! A urinary tract infection would certainly be on this differential diagnosis list. Diapers and UTI’s often go hand in hand. Especially for girls.

I’m sure that in his mind, the casually mentioned test seemed like a routine protocol, and perhaps with his knowledge of my prior experience in medicine, he felt that I could jump from one dot to the next on my own. But I wonder if that was normal behavior on the doctor’s part. It would be extremely frustrating to feel lost among medical jargon on a regular basis. I’m sure that many moms suffer needless anxiety over such things, when explanations are not offered.

Has that ever happened to you? Would you have known what our pediatrician meant by a urine test or would you have freaked out inside like I did?

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4 Responses

  1. At times it would be VERY nice for doctors to explain just why they do things. It would save me lots of worry time.

  2. I think I would have assumed that a urine test would have been to check for a UTI.

    I had a great doctor tell me once that if I ever don’t understand what a doctor is saying, I should ask questions till I do understand. She reminded me that the doctor is there to help ME, and that I’m paying her to do so! That helped me get over my fear that asking s doctor questions was impolite. :-)

  3. i think i would have known what he meant, but still would have reacted…because it would have to be a catheterization to get a sterile sample on a girl (sometimes you can know too much too, causing extra worry and concern).

  4. I don’t have a background in medicine, so I probably would’ve asked “What for?”, and been a little freaked out. It can be so intimidating when you hand your kid over to someone else to care for them.
    Hope your little one is better soon. :)

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