Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Conflict of Instincts

I've become a lot more crunchy since becoming a mom.

We don't pop pills for everything.  In fact, we hardly even use painkillers around here.  We don't treat ear infections unless the pain becomes unbearable.  I try my hardest to forgo formula opting to breastfeed all my babies until they are at least a year old.  I choose natural birth options.  We eat whole foods and I try to buy organic when our budget allows.  And we almost never go to the doctor except for routine check ups.

I think that's the biggest change in me.  I've learned to trust my gut more than anything a doctor tells me.

But sometimes that aversion to Western medicine can work against me.

For the past year William has had seven separate episodes of severe fatigue and vomiting.  The symptoms usually begin early in the morning and he is completely bedridden until about 1:00 or so when he finally creeps out of his room and is 100% better save for a bit of weakness from not eating.  You may even remember me mentioning a few of these episodes in past posts.  I had a number of hunches as to what the cause might be: everything from being overly hungry from not eating dinner the night before to being overly tired from too much activity and not enough sleep.

When he is in the middle of one of his episodes it is extremely scary because he is so lethargic and non-responsive and so just not himself.

But the problem is that when he emerges out of an episode he is completely back to his normal healthy self.  So it's easy for me to forget how scared I was.  Which is why I haven't seen or talked to a doctor about it.  Until now.

I finally made an appointment with a pediatric gastroentrologist after he had two episodes in July.  We went to our first consult appointment last week which left both William and myself in tears.  William, because they had to take three vials of blood.  Not. Fun.  And me, because I left the clinic with dates and times for three more appointments of tests.  One of which requires complete anesthesia.

I understand why the doctor ordered all these tests.  But as his mom and his medical advocate I can't shake this feeling that he's being poked and prodded all for not.  That this is a whole lot of nonsense for an otherwise healthy kid.

On the other hand, if I decide not to do the testing, I feel negligent.  Because what if they do find something.  I can't let my ego or my "I-know-my-own-kid-better-than-you" attitude stand in the way of his well-being.  What if this one time my motherly instincts are totally off and there really is something wrong with him?

And then there's the middle ground.  If all of his preliminary tests come back normal how long do I let them keep testing?  So far all his blood work has come back normal.  Tomorrow we have an ultrasound and UGI scheduled.  And then in September he has an endoscopy scheduled.  This is the test where he'll need anesthesia.  Which means he'll need a pre-op sign off from his regular physician.  Which all just seems so serious.

If none of those tests provide answers then the doctor wants to talk about doing an MRI to see if anything is going on in his brain.  And that's where I feel like I might need to draw the line.  It's just so much radiation for a four-year-old.  And that doesn't even include the million and one X-rays he had as a newborn.

But again, I get this guilty feeling if I don't allow them to do everything possible to ensure he's a healthy kid.

Brian, as always, is the voice of reason on this one.  Ensuring me that it is not normal for these vomiting/fatigue episodes to happen to an otherwise normal four-year-old.  That putting up with a little poking and prodding now might save him from ever having to go through an episode again.

Deep down I know he's right.  But the nagging feeling still persists like a damn hangnail.

I'm hoping, if nothing else, that when these tests come back normal, like I'm sure they will, that I will at least have peace-of-mind in his well being.  That I will be assured this is just some fluke that he will outgrow in no time.

Does anyone know where I'm coming from?  Or am I over-analyzing?  Encouragement and advice are appreciated!  Oh, and prayers too.  Prayers are always the best source for calm.

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