Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Pink eye

Sick days are hard.

I'm on a tough couple of rotations coming up - I have 2 weeks of 24 hour shifts of my own, a week of nights, and another 2 weeks of 24 hour shifts I picked up for another resident's maternity leave, not to mention some 12 hour shifts in between all that. Future Kicks is going to be happy - less 24 hour shifts for next year - but presently I'm looking at the upcoming calendar and thinking....blegh.

We've been pretty lucky when it comes to Baby's health though. We've walked through the day care door for the past 4 months despite the warning signs of RSV, pneumonia, and strep and come out with multiple runny noses but nothing else. 

Yesterday he was a bit crabby but hadn't slept much and was. not. having. the peas we were trying to introduce. I thought he had a booger in his eye, but didn't think much of it as he pretty much has boogers everywhere all the time. However, this morning one of his eyes was matted shut and it took multiple wipes to get the goo off. Was it pink? I thought so, but the lighting in our house isn't great so I couldn't be sure. I just kept staring at him for a few minutes trying to decide. It definitely wasn't clear cut pinkeye but I wasn't sure. 

I took a minute to evaluate the week's schedule. It was about 6:15. I had a meeting at 7:30 with my PD, I was the walk in clinic resident this AM, and I had block ed this afternoon. Nothing that couldn't be rescheduled or easy to fill. Tomorrow and the next day were 12 hour shifts at the hospital that could be much harder to fill and impossible to leave mid-shift. I knew I had two options and I had to make the choice quick.

1) Take him to daycare and roll the dice that it wouldn't get more pink. 
2) Call in sick today even though it was a soft call on pink eye with the hope of nipping it in the bud today and having a doctor's note to return to daycare tomorrow

I opted for #2 because it's much more difficult to leave mid-clinic shift than to not go in at all. Took him in right away this AM. Of course under the bright lights of the office, those eyes looked clean and white. The FP there recommended I stay home with him today and gave me a note saying safe to go back to daycare tomorrow. 

Now I'm home. I feel really guilty about calling into work, but trying not to. The meeting will be easy to reschedule, it's generally easy to fill walk in clinic, and the only one who loses if I miss out on block education is me. I still think I made the right choice and I am going to finish out the day at home (doctor's orders as above :)) 

I'm reflecting today on how utterly hopeless it is to try and schedule a sick day. 

I also feel somewhat stupid for bringing him in to clinic. After all, I am a family doctor who diagnoses pink eye in kids all the time. As soon as I brought him in, I knew that his eyes would be clean. I remember looking at him on the table early this morning thinking "I am a mother-effing doctor. How am I not able to tell if it's pink eye or not?". I've read about the fallacies of trying to diagnose your own kid and the scary stories of doctor parents never bringing their kids in, so I'm probably overcompensating the other way. 

How do you guys feel about bringing your kiddos into the doctor? Do you think you do it too much or not enough?

In the end - I'm going to enjoy our day off together, put the guilt aside, and rejoice that it's not pinkeye (yet). 


  1. I am always afraid I will feel stupid when I bring my daughter to the doctor. Fortunately she has been pretty healthy (knock wood) so it hasn’t come up much. I do find that I am about 1000000x better than any babysitter in distinguishing sick from not sick. Even in my own kid, which terrifies me because I can’t be there all the time.

    You need a better backup care plan!

    1. We are up for whatever better back up plan you suggest :s I am first up to get him out of daycare if I can if he’s sick, then husband is up and knows it if I’m inpatient/nights he’s responsible. We have family willing to help out but they’re all 2+ hours away so need a bit of warning. Our day care is great, flexible, and open early and late so it’s just the sick days we’ll probably get in trouble with. Husband can generally get out of work though - he’s up if the pinkeye strikes again this week!

  2. I'm the most guilty of treating my own kids, but only for scrapes/dermabond/pink eye and easy stuff. I promised my husband that in terms of doc or not, he gets to make the call. If he is concerned or wants an unbiased opinion, to the pediatrician we go. As an ED resident, I have little flexibility if I'm scheduled or on shift. I cannot leave, and to call out would mean someone coming in for me from an off rotation which a huge deal last minute. We had a pink eye scare last week. Full out discharge , red eye, full blown. I had my co resident call in a prescription and he was at school the next day. When my kids were younger and I was in med school, we ended up switching from daycare to nanny because of the frequency of sick days. So far, this year has been so so blessed and/or lucky.

  3. Hubby (non medical) and I have the same agreement as @boxesfordoctormommy above. If hubby is worried and wants us to go in to the doctor we go. No questions asked. I handle small things but have realized that I’m a great Pediatrician to OTHER PEOPLES KIDS and horrible at trying to play doctor for my own kids. Do you have a few good Pediatrician girlfriends that you can text? I have 3 and I run everything by them. We do picture consults for each other on our kids. Minus that I think you did the right thing.

  4. This is tough. I’m family med and see kids all the time but when it comes to my own kids I feel like I just can’t be objective. I’ll usually text my best friend from med school, who happens to be a pediatrician, to get a more balanced opinion. I’m definitely with you in “overcompensating the other way.”

  5. I do have 2 pediatrician friends that I text - one if I want the most up to date evidence on whatever the problem may be, and one that I can send “Ahhhh what is THAT??” text pictures to (answer: some misplaced Vaseline that looked suspicious until one actually touched it....) so it is a good resource that I feel lucky to have :)


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