Friday, March 13, 2015

You Don't Need a Flu Shot for a Broken Arm

You know that the medical system is messed up when an 8-year old wants to leave a doctor's appointment.  

Tonight, my daughter  fell while playing basketball and busted up her elbow.  Immediate pain and swelling were cause for concern, so she and I jetted over to urgent care to have her arm checked out.  Looking over my shoulder as we checked in, I could feel Izzy grip my arm as I answered some questions.  The "does the patient need a flu shot and/or a pneumonia shot" question on the intake form immediately made her skeptical. 

"Mommy, a flu shot??"  

She knows that this year's flu shot is only 18% effective and that the flu shot was one of the shots that took her brother's voice away all those years ago.  Izzy has nothing nice to say about the flu shot, and hates to even think about it.  She knows it, and other shots, hurt her brother.  I don't blame her for not liking it.  I don't care for the flu shot either.  

I replied, "I know honey.  It's a little ridiculous, isn't it.  You don't need a flu shot when you've broken an arm." 

Apparently, the nurse thought we did.  

During the intake when the nurse asked if my daughter needed a flu shot, I answered, "She's all set," and then quickly changed the subject.  Wanting the woman to stay focused on why we were at the clinic, I repeated, "So, it's her left arm that's hurt.  She fell right before dinner.  We got a new basketball hoop, and the kids were having so much fun...until this..." and I pointed to the swollen elbow making sure the nurse looked at it.  

With pen poised, the nurse finally looked up from the clipboard and stared at Izzy's elbow.  She said, "Oh.  Okay."  Glancing back at her papers, she looked at what was next on her list:  height, weight, temperature, blood pressure.  "Let's get her on the scale next."  

Later, as just the two of us waited in the exam room, Izzy pointed to a sign on the wall.  It was a sign advertising the flu shot.  She asked, "Why do they always have to ask about the flu shot?"  

I quickly replied, "To make money."  Then I reassured her, "Don't worry, honey.  We're not here for a flu shot."  I told her this wasn't a normal doctor visit and that our regular doctor wouldn't even offer vaccines.  Our doctor's office would never push them on people or be a bully about them either.  They let parents choose if they want them or not.  

Leaning into me for a hug, my daughter said, "Thank you for finding that doctor for me.  We need to go back to them, not stay here with these people."  I told her that on a normal day we would; but we needed help quickly.  If her arm did have a break or a fracture, this doctor's office and these people were able to help. 

Several x-rays later, the PA we were assigned had no clue if any of the x-rays showed a fracture or not.  She told us that someone else would give the films a once over in the morning, though, just in case.  That response made the already skeptical young child even more skeptical.  With raised eyebrows, she uttered the words, "Mommy, I think we need to go."  

Proving right there that even the youngest of humans knows to trust their instincts, I, too, had already come to the realization that we were in the wrong place with the wrong people.  

Gathering up our things, we left.  

Was it a waste of a Friday night?  Not so much.  My mini activist learned a few good lessons tonight:  

✔ The medical system is broken. 
✔ Some people shouldn't be working in the medical field.  
✔ Always, always trust your gut. 

Thank goodness that brave child is feeling better.  Her arm is bruised, but the swelling has gone down considerably.  She can lift her arm, bend it, straighten it, and wiggle her fingers.  She's still hurting, but she's glad to be home and far, far away from the medical system madness.  

The quick glimpse that my daughter got of the medical system tonight made her grateful.  Izzy's grateful that she doesn't have to depend on it very much for herself.  May she, and my other typical children, be blessed with good health.  And may they always, always remember to trust their instincts.    
xo, Cat

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