Being a doctor is full of difficult decisions. Sometimes we have only the sparsest details to piece together what is going on with a patient. In a pediatric setting, we rely on parents to give us all the important background information—allergies, current medications and medical history—which can be better than any patient database. Parents know the difference between when their child is sick and when he is SICK! I was reminded how important it is to speak up when I was on the other side of the gurney as a patient.
Riding my bike is one of the ways I relax. I enjoy riding so much that I have a bike with the special clip-in pedals. During a recent trip, I stopped at a red light. Unbeknownst to me, I wouldn’t be able to unclip from the pedals because there was a small stone in the pedal mechanism.
I slowly started to tip over, and I hit the ground—hard. The handlebars jammed into my leg, but I thought to myself I’ll just tough it out.
At the end of the ride, I wasn’t feeling too hot. My leg was horribly swollen, and it was clear I needed to go to the hospital. With intense muscle swelling, there is some risk of compartment syndrome, which is caused when swelling cuts off blood flow to the affected area. The physician’s assistant who was initially caring for me seemed uncertain about what to do.
Here I am far away from my home in an immense amount of pain, and my treatment path was ‘uncertain’. While I was beside myself with pain, it was my nurse who suggested I speak with an orthopaedic surgeon. My nurse’s suggestion reminded me that it was time to speak up. Because of her, I was able to find an orthopedic surgeon in the nearby town who gave me advice and direction to get me home safely.
For all the moms and dads out there, if you are at the hospital and see something isn’t right with your child, say something. There is no harm in asking for a second (or even a third) opinion. By being persistent, you’re not being pushy—you’re being a parent.