Hurry up and wait

By Mir
July 15, 2009

Yesterday Chickadee and I saw perhaps the kindest medical professional we’ve ever encountered, and I sort of wanted to put him in my pocket and take him home with us. He (yes, HE) was a nurse practitioner. I’ve always liked NPs. They seem to have most of the same training and power as you encounter with the average doctor, but a much better bedside manner. It’s almost like they care, or something.

Of course, the fact that he was awfully nice didn’t actually GET us anywhere, but it was at least nice to feel cared about while we continue not solving the problem….

When we last left off, Chickadee was about to have a skin biopsy at the dermatologist’s office. Now, the dermatologist is ALSO very nice, and so when we went in and Chickie started doing her standard fear routine the doc started in with “If she doesn’t want it done, let’s not do it, I don’t want her to be scared, let’s wait until she’s more ready,” and I had to try to explain that she was going to be scared no matter what, and I was sorry, but we really just needed to get it overwith. I’m sure the doc thought I was a Terrible Mother™. But when your kid is needlephobic but NEEDS a procedure I don’t see the point in acting like she has a choice. Call me crazy.

Okay. So! Chickadee made it through the biopsy. She cried a little for the numbing shot but was fine after that, and was fascinated with the idea that the doctor was using a fancy hole-punch to remove some of her skin. She giggled through the two little stitches she received, and then regaled me with a song on the way home that sounded suspiciously like “Tiny Bubbles” but was, in fact, “Tiny Stitches.”

The dermatologist—whom I really, really like—chatted throughout, telling me that she’s certain there’s a stress trigger component to what’s happening here. (I restrained myself from answering, “DUH. Ya think?”)

“Is she an only child?” she inquired.

“Nope, she has a brother,” I answered.

“Older or younger?” she asked.

“Younger. He’s nine.”

“Nine and a half, actually,” piped up Chickadee.

The good doctor looked a little surprised. “And she’s… how old?”

“Eleven,” I answered.

“OHHHHHHHHH,” she said, as if it all made sense, now. “They are too close together!”

And then we had one of those moments. You know the kind—the rotation of the earth just slows down for a second, and time sits there. I exchanged a glance with Chickadee, who quirked an eyebrow at me in a perfect mirror of my own movement, I was sure, and I tried to formulate a reasonable response to what felt like a completely unreasonable statement.

“Oh, OKAY. What do you suggest I do about that?” I finally managed, and to my relief first the doctor and then Chickadee laughed.

“I just meant that can be stressful,” the doctor clarified, and time went back to its normal speed, but I would, for the next two days, tell anyone who would listen that I’d been chastised for having my children a year and a half apart. Because that’s what dermatologists DO, people—they SPECIALIZE IN RETROACTIVE FAMILY PLANNING.

Anyway. (I still like her. But I hope she’ll stick to skin from now on.) She told us the biopsy results will be back later this week, and gave us a list of tests she’d like the allergist to run. We bid her farewell and went to Dairy Queen.

Yesterday we took the list to the allergist, and saw the nice NP who was extremely sympathetic to our frustration in trying to get this figured out. But then after we’d waited for an hour and done a complete history, he went and conferred with the doctor and came back and told us that they didn’t want to run any more tests until after the biopsy came back.

I’m sure my face revealed my frustration.

“I know,” he said, sounding genuinely sorry, “You just want her to feel better, and you want answers and a solution, and it’s more waiting. But the doctor feels we really need to be guided by the biopsy results, here, and so we need to wait rather than just blindly doing more tests.”

It sounded so reasonable, when he put it like that. Still. GAH.

As we waited at the nursing station for a copy of the sheet we needed to take to the check-out desk, the doctor strolled up and asked Chickadee how she’d been feeling. She pulled a face. “ITCHY,” she said.

“I know, sweetie. I’m sorry,” he said. He turned to me. “Call us as soon as you have the biopsy results and we’ll decide where to go from there. But I have to tell you, I don’t think this is an allergy. We’re looking at something systemic.”

I was confused. “A systemic reaction to an allergy…?”

“Well, no, I don’t think that’s what it’s going to turn out to be. I think it’s not an allergy at all. I have a few guesses, but let’s just wait and see.”

My Mama Bear Radar started beeping. “You have a few guesses? Care to share?”

He shrugged, apologetic. “That’s not for me to do. Let’s see what the biopsy tells us.”

And then he walked away, leaving me completely freaked the hell out. Because if it’s not an allergy, then it’s a DISEASE. AND I WANT AN ALLERGY.

I kept my face neutral, and slung an arm around my daughter and left with her singing the “Tiny Stitches” song, again. She was positively chipper. The one useful thing the allergist did was call in a prescription for steroids for her, so if she has another “flare” while she’s away with her dad next week, she won’t have to go get a shot in the butt like she did last time. She’s fine; she is wearing jeans and long sleeves when it’s 96 degrees outside because she’s scaly and rashy and itchy, but she’s fine.

So we’ll wait. And I’ll try not to freak out.

Maybe I can pass the time trying to figure out the solution to my child-spacing problem. Otto suggests putting Monkey in cryofreeze for a little while, but I’m open to other suggestions, too.


  1. exile on mom street

    People say the STUPIDEST things sometimes. Even doctors. No wait, ESPECIALLY doctors.

    I think instead of slowing Monkey’s growth you should speed up Chickie’s. Fast forwarding through the teen years sounds good to me!

  2. Megan

    Well, first you take the flux capacitor…

    If it’s stress over too-closely-placed-children then why, oh why, are YOU not the one all itchy since (from sad experience) I can tell ya right now that it’s the parents who experience the majority of stress over that situation!

    Also – does this kind medical person not realize that you need TERMS that can be GOOGLED? How else can you self-diagnose and spend the rest of the week in a tizzy over the worst case scenario? Geez, you’d think this would be a major part of the patient-relationship training they get these days.

  3. Kelly

    At least you have doctors who are finally listening and trying to figure it out! I am praying for a nice easy solution for her.

    How is your wheat/allergy/skin doing?

    Hmmm is 2 years and 1 month apart too close? I can try to not go into labor at the end of August but I think that’ll only give me a couple weeks.

  4. carolyn

    I think there should be a rule that the doctor can not hint at something. He/she either says it outright or doesn’t, but no hinting allowed. It’s not fair to those of us who like to pre-worry about everything. I’m a professional pre-worroer and I know what I’m talking about here.

  5. Erin

    My primary “doctor” is also a NP, and I loooove her. I think you’re right–all of the expertise, less of the…well, I was going to type “entitlement,” but I’m not trying to start a comments war with someone who’s a doctor with a great bedside manner and no entitlement.

    I know there are great docs out there–I’ve met and/or befriended many of them–but there are also a lot with brusque bedside manners and entitlement. So. Yes, NPs FTW.

  6. Lori N

    As frustrating as him not telling you what “systemic” things he’s thinking about, it’s probably for the best. These internets are a scary place for people with multiple things to google & then stress about. :) Hopefully he’ll be completely wrong and be able to say – yep! Allergy, let’s test her!

    But he shouldn’t have let that “systemic” word out of his mouth. Doctors aren’t allowed to think out loud in front of parents. It should be a law. :)

  7. radioactivetori

    Don’t consult Dr. Google. He is scary and wrong most of the time.

    I am thinking good thoughts for all of you through this. I know how difficult it is when your child is uncomfortable or sick and you just want it to end.

  8. Tammy

    Coming soon to the DIY Network: “The Empire Strikes Back + Back To The Future = How To Build a Cryo-Storage Unit from Scrap Metal & Duct Tape”

    I’m sorry that you’re left hanging on the biopsy results. Prayers are being said here that it’s allergy & not systemic.

  9. Aimee

    Well, if you can make a time machine out of a Delorean, you can probably make one out of a camper, too.

    I’m sorry about the waiting, and hoping so much that it’s an allergy after all.

  10. Summer

    I suspect the dermatologist’s crack about the kids being too close together was just to punish you for making her do the biopsy right then, thus denying her the fee for another office visit.

    I’m gearing up to give you a run for the money in the Terrible Mother stakes. Tomorrow morning I’m taking my son to the dentist, where he will likely have to get two teeth extracted (freaking stubborn baby teeth that will NOT come out despite the fact that the adult teeth have already erupted behind them) and then, as a special treat, I’m taking him to the health department to get an immunization shot he’ll need for school. Oh, boy! It’s gonna be fun!

  11. Anna

    Ok, A) WTH? Spacing too close. GRR.
    B) You were IN THE OFFICE. Why would the allergist have you come for an appointment before the biopsy results if you’re just going to get to come back after the biopsy is back.

    And I’m not impressed with whoever wanted to skip the procedure because she’d be scared. That’s not helpful at all.

  12. Liz

    Well if having siblings too close in age causes skin rashes, I’m surprised I have any skin left at all – I’m the oldest of six kids and the first four of us are each 20 months apart. That’s four kids in five years if you’re doing the math…and then two more thrown in for good measure a few years later!

    Hope you get it all figured out soon and Chickadee can get some relief.

  13. RuthWells

    What a saga. I have no witty energy, so will merely say, hoping for the best. And soon.

  14. Half Assed Kitchen

    I’m So sorry for Chickadee. And for you. My son has pretty bad eczema and it’s awful for him and hard to watch him scratching and being so incredibly atopic.

    When I was pregnant with my daughter, a horribly itchy rash appeared over my whole body during the second trimester. No one could figure it out. It was like I was allergic to being pregnant or something (and I’ll admit, I wasn’t a fan). In the end, after going to see a bazillion doctors, all I could surmise was that hormones were causing my skin to be so scaly and itchy that it hurt to take a bath or even walk very far. It was pure misery.

    Just wondering if there could possibly be a hormonal element. She is a tween after all.

    Good luck and please keep us posted.

  15. Jomama

    You have the greatest knack for catching the stupid things that people say, and just putting them out there for us all to realize how ridiculous it sounds.

    For the record, my oldest would say 3 years is still too close too, so @Kelly, don’t squeeze too hard, it won’t matter ;-)

  16. Sheila

    My, you have certainly had your share of Medical Moments this week.

    Hope the results are fast and that the diagnosis is not too scary.

  17. Lucinda

    My kids are 17 mos. apart and no rash. I don’t think that’s your problem. lol

    As for systemic–that doesn’t necessarily mean disease. Don’t panic. It could be systemic inflammation due to stress for example. That’s not an allergy. There are tons of things that can cause a rash that are not serious.

    But I understand. I would be freaking too.

  18. Poltzie

    Oh, good luck with everything!

  19. Meg

    Whoa, that’s so unfair, telling you he thought it wasn’t an allergy and then not finishing the thought! It’s like the medical version of “We need to talk”!

  20. Nancy

    My daughter was extremely anxious about all medical procedures when she was younger. Now she is about to sit 2 boards to be qualified as an NP in 2 different areas. Who would have thought? She still does not like the needles – but only on her own body. Good thing!

  21. Jessie

    Even if it’s systemic, that doesn’t mean “untreatable”. I have this terrible rash that breaks out on my face sometimes. They told me the name for it, though I’m spacing at the moment. And it’s some queer reoccurring bacterial infection. I’d tried everything, I couldn’t open my mouth, and three days with topical antibiotics and it was gone. Now I just put the lotion on whenever it starts to come back, and I haven’t had an outbreak in four years.
    So here’s hoping it’s something like that. :-)
    Flowers… @};-

  22. Celeste

    I once had a doctor chastise me for not breastfeeding longer. When my kids were 5 and 7. And there were no more babies coming, ever. Um… what could I do about THAT?

  23. Tracy

    I’m so sorry you are being put through all of this. Thank goodness Chickie was brave and went through w/the biospy. Lord knows, what the diagnosis would be without it. That’s the smartest thing any doctor has done so far–just can’t understand why they didn’t try it to begin with. Good Luck!!!!

  24. Sarah

    Oy. Good thoughts coming your way. Sorry for the stress and worry. Hope it’s an easy fix. My husband is a doctor and my brother is a derm and I’m cringing at your doctor-reactions because they are both, actually, nice doctors.

  25. pharmgirl

    Oh dear.

    In defense of the doctors, sometimes their minds are in 2 places and they forget that the rest of us may need the context to make it make sense.

    Hang tough and eat hot fudge straight from the jar. (It’s my own little mental health secret)

  26. Mandee

    My sister’s an NP, so I completely agree with the NP love. I wish they had more authority in GA because then she would live here instead of TN. At any rate–

    I went through a similar situation as Chickie in law school–I was covered in hives unless I was on 30 mg of prednisone a day. At one point, the allergist asked if I was stressed. I mentioned the fact that my parents were struggling in their marriage after 35 years, and he scolded me. SCOLDED ME. I’ve had enough experience with clueless medical professionals to know when to tell them to shove it. So, I did and then asked him to please give me any answer other than auto immune disorder.

    He couldn’t. But 6 months of prednisone and 40 pounds later, the hives finally went away.

    Hope she’s miraculously cured very soon.

  27. Amy

    Maybe the close spacing makes her allergic to Monkey.

  28. Melissa in TN

    Let’s hope noone with twins or triplets comes to see that doctor.God forbid if he should see Kate plus 8.

  29. Tilly

    She only said ‘too close’ because the ‘only child’ thing didn’t work. Best of luck with it all!

  30. Brigitte

    Hrm. My siblings and I (4 of us, no multiples) were born in under 4 years. We should have been plastered with hives!

    In my only experience with an NP, she was actually brusque with no bedside manner . . but she did figure out (in about 2 seconds flat) that my untreatable and remarkably painful ear infection, for which I’d already seen the regular doctor 3 or 4 times, was actually a sinus issue.

    I hope that if Chickie’s rash is “systemic” , that it’s one of the relatively innocuous options suggested by your prior commenters. Good luck!

  31. ~annie

    Re: the spacing issue – maybe Chickie would like to be promoted to 15? (OW! Why’d you throw that shoe at me?)

  32. Ani

    Try to think of it this way…

    A disease might be curable.

    An allergy is treatable but stays.

    So…we’ll pray for a nice curable condition.

  33. Lindy

    Good lord I hated taking steroids when I was that age. Stupid eczema. And I still hate taking steroids now. Stupid shoulder.

    Good luck with your diagnostic frustrations. I feel ya dude. I learned in j-school that I’m no supposed to say that. But here I’m pretty sure I can.

    I won’t go into details in this public-y sort of forum, but my boss at the paper understands I have such strong opinions regarding certain physicians based on diagnostic-y sorts of experiences in this town that it qualifies as a conflict of interest and I don’t cover them. I’d probably kick them in the balls if I had the opportunity. Hopefully your Fairy God-NP will figure thing out with no problems.

    (NP love)

  34. Jenn

    Oh, poor kid. I know exactly how she feels… I had a yucky itchy scaly rash for the entire months of May and June. Not fun having to wear jeans and long-sleeved t-shirts when it’s 105 out. (My rash was guttate psoriasis… no chance it could be that, is there? I get it like clockwork every time I get strep throat.) I’m about 95% better now, which I attribute to going to see a homeopath who is great with any kind of autoimmune/inflammatory stuff. What she did, I can’t explain, but she cured my son’s eczema too. Maybe you could look into that if the derm and allergist come up empty?

  35. buttercup

    Ohh, I’m sorry for Chickadee. As someone above mentioned it could be something hormonal. when I was between the ages of 10 and 12 I had all sorts of weird skin issues. Several different types of rashes on my arms, hands and face (treated with steroids and time). And, during that time I also had several episodes of horrible hives, one session so bad I threw up and passed out from them. They never figured out what was causing the reactions but after a while all the skin conditions settled down and I haven’t had problems since.

    Here’s hoping it’s something that will clear up soon! Good luck…

  36. Katie in MA

    How about you and Otto go into Cyrofreeze for awhile and come out when the kids have it all figured out? :)

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