Thursday, November 19, 2009

On Pee Cups and Throat Swabs

I've had to head to the pediatrician's office twice this week. The first time was for Lauren, the second for Ethan. Two visits; zero diagnoses.

Which is just what one hopes for when one has no insurance. I could have flown home for Christmas for what I'm spending in doctor's office fees and lab costs. Because, you know, the quick in-office test could have been wrong, so they have to send it to the lab for longer, more expensive testing.

Which also came back negative.

But, don't worry, there was lots of fun to be had while we were there. For the low, low price of only one arm and one leg, I was able to experience the joy of getting my three year old daughter to pee in a cup.

What? You haven't had the pleasure?

It only took three tries, several plastic cups, one rubber glove, countless tears, and forty-five minutes. All to find out that she did not have a UTI. Or at least, she probably didn't.

Since getting my five year old son to pee in a cup would not have been much of a challenge, he decided to have a ridiculously high fever and excruciating sore throat instead of painful urination. That way I could have his throat swabbed.

Still . . . a throat swab? That's not bad. Come on, it could be worse, right?

Yeah, they could make my everything-irritates-him, pulls-his-shirts-collars-down-to-his-nipples-because-they're-always-"choking"-him, can't-stand-anything-touching-his-neck son wear a mask. Apparently anyone who comes in with a fever and a cough must wear a surgical mask.

I could see him starting to freak out a little when I got the mask out of the box. As his eyes darted to and fro with that crazed must-escape-somehow look, I tried reassuring him that it wouldn't hurt. It's just thin, like paper. See, Ethan?

He folded his body inward and said he was scared to put it on in front of all the people in the lobby. No problem, said I, we can go down the hall and put it on right outside the door to the doctor's office. (The pediatrician's office in a hospital.) I carefully put it on him and tied the top string around his head.

His body tensed up, and I could see him starting to panic. We entered the waiting room, and hallelujah, there were no other people in it. It was an empty room! Surely, he won't have to wear the mask since the room is empty. Right?


I signed him in, asked the girl in the window if he had to wear it even though there was no one else in the room, was told yes he did, and turned around just in time to see his eyes well up and to hear my oh-so-brave five year-old wimper, "Mommy, I'm gonna cry!"

And cry he did.

Once he finally composed himself, it was time for the throat swab. You know, the strep-negative throat swab. The why-did-I-even-put-us-through-this throat swab. The send-it-off-to-the-lab-in-case-our-test-is-wrong throat swab. The you-could-have-bought-a-plane-ticket-instead-because-this-will-cost-you-so-much throat swab. The I-told-him-it-wouldn't-hurt-but-I-forgot-his-throat-was-already-raw-and-painful-even-BEFORE-he-began-crying-from-the-mask-from-hell throat swab.

Of course, it came back negative. And, apparently it did hurt.

At least he got what the doctor's office refers to as a "free" popsicle. Since it's pretty much all we got for our money, I'd say it was decidedly the most expensive popsicle he's ever eaten.

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