Handy Home Medication Tip

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It was bound to happen, eventually.

We would have to go to our family doctor for a “Sick Visit”.  And I would get the chance to use this brilliant medication administration tracking tactic.  How’s that for practical, easy, and absolutely useful?

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My family does pretty well in avoiding these types of visits.  Which is not to say we avoid illness entirely, however, we have been fortunate enough to keep our illnesses to mild febrile viruses, coughs, colds, and allergy flare ups every year when the tree pollen drops.  Which reminds me, oh baby, with as warm as it’s been this winter, be warned that it’s going to be a tough allergy season, followed by a contender for the worst year for insects in recent memory.  Yippee. Get yourself some zyrtec or some local honey, whichever way your pendulum swings, maybe even get both, because Hons, odds are that someone in your house is going to need it. But back to my story.

We get sick here and there, but until this week, His Majesty has NEVER, and I do mean NEVER been in for a sick visit.  Not since he was born, almost two years ago.  No ear infections.  No episodes of stomach virus. No lingering fevers, and, in fact, he’s only had one fever, period, a year ago.  Both of my sons have been very healthy, praise God, with the exception of some pretty nasty allergies in Christopher, but that’s minor as far as I’m concerned.  I can’t remember the last time any of us had symptoms significant enough to warrant a visit to the doctor… However, in this house, we have a pretty high threshold for illness.  You have to really be sick for us to say that you are.  “Sick” is practically a four letter word in our house (and it’s definitely not my favorite one).

My husband and I are both health care providers (HCPs) (Well, I was, until I retired in favor of my encore career as a Domestic Engineer, but he still practices).  The first “rule” of being a HCP is “He who diagnoses and treats himself has a fool for a patient”, and that rule trickles on down to your family as well.  If you choose to ignore this rule, one of two things may occur at your fault.  One, you’ll think a complaint is nothing, but in reality, it will be something serious, and then your family will be mad at you and think you are a quack, or two, you will think you/your loved one have a terrible, rare and usually fatal, illness, when in reality, they’ll be fine, after which they’ll discredit your advice when it’s logical and appropriate, say, for instance, when you tell them to stop smoking around their asthmatic kids.

A friend of mine, who happens to be a Pulmonologist, once took it upon himself to suture the facial laceration of his young son, sparing his family a certain multiple hour block of time at our favored University Medical Center.  His wife, who is normally a calm and composed woman, was understandably somewhat displeased, and by his account, the ensuing fight was of legendary proportions.  I’ve seen the scar.  It’s not too shabby, for a pulmonologist, which is not to say that it was a top notch job, but to say that compared to the chest tubes I’ve painstakingly watched him sew in, it was a work of art.  I’m teasing, but the point is, the guy is an excellent lung doctor, but he’s not a plastic surgeon,  and sewing up a kids’ facial lacerations should best be left to the real experts.

That being said, I have started IVs for hydration on myself, my husband and our kids, hanging the fluid bags from the ceiling fans, I’ve forced fluids and deep breathing for fevers that I wave off as being due to a simple virus, and I occasionally do phone diagnosis and make treatment plans for my Grandmother, and always with favorable results. We joke with friends that in our house, with two HCPs, the kids need have a bleeding wound that won’t stop with 30 minutes of firm pressure, a compound fracture, or a massive head injury in order to see the inside of an Emergency Room.  We work(ed) in hospitals.  We don’t like to see them in our free time, and if we CAN manage it at home, we often times WILL manage it at home.  It’s cleaner that way.  Lawd, have you SEEN the inside of a hospital, or an ER for that matter?  Filthy, and what you see when you work there, ugh, it defies logic.  If you weren’t sick when you got there, you’ll probably be sick when you leave.  And while we’re talking about Emergency Rooms, let me take this opportunity to give you some Life Changing Knowledge.

ERs are for serious medical and sudden problems only, folks.  Not for the back ache that’s been going on for 2 weeks, and could best be managed by your primary care physician or a referral to a specialist.  Not your ingrown toenail.  Not because your chief complaint is that you might be pregnant. Leave the ERs for people who need them, y’all.  People who could be having heart attacks, or strokes. People with breathing difficulties. People who have had traumatic injuries, falls, or amputations.  Victims of sudden violence.  Car accident survivors.  Not your cranky kid at 2 AM during an ice storm, who could have easily seen the pediatrician yesterday for her fever, if only you had taken the day off of work to take her in.  And we wonder why health care costs are in the stratosphere. If everyone with non emergencies went to their primary care provider, instead of clogging up the ER, staff would be available to treat REAL emergencies.  It’s good karma.  You’ll appreciate that if ever the day or night should ever arise where you or your loved one has a REAL emergency.

Ok, ok, so my story.  The other day, His Majesty wasn’t acting like himself.  He had a snotty, runny nose.  He had a little bit of a cough.  None of that concerned me.  But, he hardly ate any of his breakfast.  The boys an eater, so I figured he was feeling lousy.  I listened to his lungs.  They sounded junky, so I started making him drink extra water, and having him cough for me at frequent intervals.  He was extra whiney, and didn’t seem to be interested in playing all morning.He picked at his lunch, but then got horribly upset when I took him down from his highchair.  Naturally, he started crying, and in true temper tantrum form, he was inconsolable for about 10 minutes; But this is when the story shifted.  When he stopped crying, he was out of breath, and hot and sweaty.  Not too big of a deal by itself, since he did throw quite the fit, but he just couldn’t seem to slow down his breathing afterwards, and he was still sweating.  I listened to his lungs again, and while they were junky, but unchanged, his little heart was just banging away in his chest, crazy rapidly.  I sat him down and tried to keep him calm, and after a few minutes on my lap, I heard it, first with my ears, and then with my stethoscope.

Wheezing, when he exhaled, like a little whistle.  I didn’t like that. Not one bit.  I pulled him into the bathroom with me and turned the shower on hot.  I left a message at our doctor’s office, which was closed for lunch, and I texted my husband. We sat there for a few minutes, my normally crazy active, maniac little toddler quietly on my lap.  I listened to his lungs again, and the wheeze was about the same, so we hung out in the steamed up bathroom for a bit longer.

I figured that since we were going to be there for a bit, I’d change him into his pajamas, so that he could be more comfortable.  I laid him on the floor and talked to him softly as I stripped him down, and then, I asked him a silly question, just to hopefully make him smile.

He smiled, and then answered me, two words at a time, unable to complete a sentence without taking a breath.  And these are toddler sentences I’m talking about, folks, he wasn’t reading a sentence out of a document from The Library of Congress.

I started to sweat, and not just because it was hot as blazes in that bathroom.

And then, I saw something else that made me start to move quickly.  It was dim in the bathroom, as the blinds were closed and the lights were off, but I though to myself “Is he sucking in his neck muscles when he breaths?  Is he retracting his chest muscles?”  I turned on the lights at the same time that I hollered for Christopher to gather up the diaper bag, and I listened to the baby’s lungs again, while my eyes adjusted to the additional light and confirmed that yes, yes indeed, he was struggling to breathe.

I haven’t moved that fast in a while, and hope not to do so again.

I gathered the kids up and hopped in the car.  The doctor’s office is on the way to the Emergency Room, so I figured that if they didn’t answer, I’d keep going and head to the ER.  15 minutes to the doctor, 25 minutes to the ER. He wasn’t sick enough for an ambulance ride, not by a long shot.  But kids change condition quickly sometimes, and sometimes minutes are just too much time.

Fortunately, the doctor’s office called me back a few miles down the road, we got in to be seen right away, and after a nebulized albuterol treatment, a take home nebulizer, and a few prescriptions, we were on our way back home, and hopefully towards improved wellness as well.  He’s doing much better now, and I am glad that I remembered this medication administration tracking idea.  I normally keep a regular old notepad of any medications that we administer or take, and I highly recommend it so that you can remember what you’ve taken and when, but I like this idea better for short term prescriptions, since it allows you to keep track of everything right there on the bottle/package, and check off the doses as you give them.  Just write down the day, and check off or note the time that you administered a dose (I just applied white label stickers to the nebulizer box, which I can reapply if I should need a new surface to write on later). I told you that this was a great idea.

Whew, that’s saying a lot for a post that is about such a little tip! Enough about me, tell me about you! Have you and your family managed to avoid sick visits? What is your secret to staying well and avoiding the doctor? Or, on the other side of the spectrum, have you had a spell where you and your family have been battling illnesses back to back?

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