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The Bends

The Bends

April 29, 2008

Once upon a time my son complained about his hip hurting. And he dramatically limped around the house. Because I like to play a doctor, I assured him that his hip (and then knee) hurt from playing so much baseball. It had been All-Star season and he was out there running, sliding, throwing balls, for hours every single day. Of course you would fee achy. Then he got worse and I brought him to the doctor. We had blood work done and had to wait for what felt like FOREVER to get the results. Turned out he had Lyme disease. I felt horrible. He took antibiotics for weeks (months?) and dropped 10lbs off of his then already skinny frame.

If you think that would have caused me to turn in my Google M.D. license, you would be wrong.

So more time passed. This time my son was complaining that his jaw hurt. Well, duh chewing all the gum will do that to you. What? You haven’t been chewing gum? Well clearly you are grinding your teeth at night or something. Don’t worry you will get better soon. Just lie down and take a nap. Sleep is always good for what ails you. The next day he could not open his mouth wider than a centimeter or two. I brought him to the doctor and he had tonsillitis and had developed some sort of secondary infection in his jaw. OUCH! He had some antibiotics and began to feel better. I drank some wine to soothe my guilt.

But still I could not turn in my medical degree.

Last week my son was complaining that he had a sore throat. He had no other symptoms of being sick. No fever, no cough, no stomach ache, nothing that stopped him from inhaling vast quantities of food. I chalked it up to allergies that are causing everyone to have sore scratchy throats. Yesterday afternoon he came to me and said it felt like there was something in his throat. I made him open his mouth and shined my handy pen light in. “Holy mother of god!” I shouted. He had a huge abcess in his throat. I almost fainted from looking at it. Off we went to the doctor. Turns out that this is a viral thing, so no medication is necessary. We ran a strep test just to be on the safe side. We are dosing him up with tylenol, numbing mouth rinse, and soft food.

Last night I was googling my own medical symptoms. I have diagnosed myself with decompression sickness. I realize I have not recently, or ever, been scuba diving. Small details.

Posted by Chris @ 10:42 am  

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  1. Diane says:

    LOL - is this the same son? If so, he may want to start going to Dad when he feels sick.

  2. Heidi says:

    May I suggest a hyperbaric chamber?! It works for lyme disease and decompression sickness. You could help 2 problems with 1 chamber! just a thought…..haha

  3. Sue says:

    OMG that is funny (but not funny that they were sick). the worst is when my husband suggests they should see the doctor (he of the 8 to 7 job in Philadelphia) and I say no, they’re fine, then he turns out to be right. I HATE that.

  4. Paulla says:

    OMG, I can so relate to this.

    My standard comment, when it’s suggested that I take a kid to the doctor, is, “Well what do they know that I don’t?” My medical book is referred to often and I’m always mis-diagnosing… everything. But still I continue to do it.

  5. NoMasNinos says:

    We lived across the border from Mexico, and my mom found it easy to diagnose and prescribe “the right” medications. The prescription was usually a good shot of penicillin, no matter what the symptoms. I guess maybe your kids should be happy your not making their bacteria immune to penicillin, but in their case, you would have been right at least 2/3 of the time.

  6. suburbancorrespondent says:

    Well, I for one don’t blame you one bit. If I went running to the doctor every single time one of the kids said that something hurt, I wouldn’t have time to do anything else. And we’d be picking up all the germs that float around those places…

  7. Sherry says:

    My stepson’s mother once sent him over to our house with a bunch of “mosquito bites” or what I like to call “Chicken Pox”.

  8. Jennielynn says:

    I once left an ER with Drama Queen after realizing she was leaning on the arm she said hurt so badly. The next morning, it was swollen and discolored, so back we went and guess what? It was broken. Good Times.

  9. Cara says:

    Wow, it’s amazing that you could get him diagnosed with Lyme Disease. It usually takes crazy bribes or sorcery to do that here. I swear my husband has it, and he had all the symptoms, but since the blood test said no (and they are notoriously unreliable) they ignore it..BLEH

  10. Valeta says:

    Wow. Poor kids. I hate it when it is a lot worse then you thought it was.

    I love Google. Mostly because of the paycheck they give my husband every two weeks. But sometimes for their search.

  11. Rachel says:

    Holy cow! Was that all the same son?! Poor guy.

    When I was about 8 I complained for a few days about my sore throat but my mom just figured it would pass. On the morning of my softball game I was like “Hey Mom, this is REALLY hurting now, take me to the doctor?” And my mom was like “after your game.” So I played in my game, and she took me to the doctor the next day. He took one look and asked “have you actually looked at her throat?” She hadn’t and it was covered with greenish, greyish, whitish pus from strep throat that had festered for several days without treatment. Good times.

    I think its the child who cried wolf syndrome…kids complain a lot. Sometimes its hard to believe them :)

  12. steff says:

    I have one of those degrees too…my expertise or lack there of have led to surgically removing rocks from an ear and a broken arm(elbow).

  13. Wicked Stepmom says:

    Umm… what kind of viral thing causes an ABSCESS in the throat?

    Ouch. Poor guy. Give him all the ice pops he wants. :)

    chris says: I SHOULD have the answer to that with my prestigious Google M.D, but I do not.

  14. Lilly says:

    What’s a mother to do? If you run to the doctor right away with something that seems minor and it is then you feel silly and you pay a lot of $ for nothing. I think you waited just the right amount of time before seeking professional help in each situation. Hope your bends get better soon!

  15. trina says:

    oh how I love the self diagnosis! Lyme disease? Everyone misses that one; after all, its the rarest of all citrus viruses. The throat mass? I can picture it in my little germophobe mind right now

  16. carol says:

    Growing up my mom didn’t believe in doctors. She tried to fix everything with home rememdies and it had to be Bad to go to a doctor. We survived. I was thrilled when I grew up and found out that I could actually take something that would help my horrible menstrual cramps. We didn’t even have aspirin in the house, I don’t think.

  17. Fina says:

    Yup, did that with my 15yo daughter. Lyme disease. I think I attributed her pain to growing pains. Then she had mono symptoms. Demanded she turn in her google MD lic. Turns out she was right. So when I saw the swelling in her under-arm, I figured I shouldnt that mess that up and got her to the surgeon right away. Goes to show that you can learn from your mistakes. So don’t beat yourself up too much.

  18. Gem says:

    OK, I’ll admit it because I am on the other side of the Atlantic and so should be safe from a mal practice suit. I actually HAVE an MD and practice family medicine daily and still my 7 year old has perforated her ear drum TWICE over the years when I ignored her complaining of and earache for 12 hours. It has to be said in my defence that she was well able to run around and play football. It only became and issue when she was told it was time to go to bed!

  19. Crystal says:

    Is it the same kid? Does he complain a lot of other times that it’s not serious? Or is he one of those rare kids that only complains when something’s really, really wrong?

    My Google M.D. degree record is pretty flawless, so if anybody needs a consultation…… of course my daughter IS only THREE, and has never had what turned out to be a serious condition, so maybe that will change with time.

    Oh, and before submitting to a Decompression Sickness diagnoses, I’d check out doing a hair analysis (I’m super high in Uranium it turns out, and my mom with mercury due to all of her fillings and playing with it), or some sort of weird blood disorder like hemochromatosis which is more common than those “know it all” M.D.’s give it credit for since it’s hard to evaluate the results. Or maybe it’s something caused from all of the stress of having so many kids and constantly worrying about everyone’s medical condition? :)

  20. Julie says:

    My daughter was riding a little “push” scooter around the walking trail at our local park and fell over a broken area in the pavement. She kept saying she couldn’t walk, but she’s a bit of a drama queen, so I encouraged her to make it the rest of the way around (about 2/3 mile).

    Two hours later her ankle was the size of a grapefruit. One trip to the doctor confirmed a broken ankle. Yay, mom.

  21. katrina says:

    I started on my google MD degree long before there was even a google.

    I was tasked once to keep an eye on the house and my younger brother (I was probably 16/17, and he was somewhere around 15) while my parents were out of town for a few days.

    He started to complain of a sore throat, and I had him rest/gave him some tylenol, etc. figuring it wasn’t life threatening and told him to let me know if it felt worse.

    sure enough, it got worse.

    Took him to the Family Dr…
    Turns out he took one of his medications (I forget what for) too close to bed, and ended up not swallowing it properly. So it lodged in the back of his throat and proceeded to dissolve there overnight, causing an irritation/abcess.

    Let me tell ya, to this day I’m super OCD about making sure pills go down right.

  22. Jackie says:

    I google symptoms all the time, my family calls me up when one of them is sick or has a rash wondering if I know what it is. My answer is usually it could be this or this but if it’s bothering you bad enough to ask me then go see a doctor.
    I use medline plus (http://www.nlm.nih.gov / medlineplus/) a lot too.

  23. Kristi says:

    Was it the urinary and rectal incontinence or the sensation of tiny insects crawling all over your body that had you convinced?

  24. peepnroosmom says:

    The bends, huh?
    I must say that I have my Dr. Google, M.D., too. Once I diagnosed a simple UTI with the need for a kidney transplant. I was up way too late for way too long.
    I hope your son gets better soon. Wow, that abscess sounds painful.

  25. Megan says:

    I’ve misdiagnosed a broken arm (cracked! It was only cracked!). But then, what do you do when you have three dramatic Children who fling themselves down one minute claiming AGONY and are trying to climb the drainpipe the next? In our house it’s mostly “Dr. Suck-it-up” who makes the call…

  26. Inzaburbs says:

    If one of my kids complains of a stomach ache I tell them to go to the bathroom, then declare brightly “See? All better now!”. That’s the end of it unless they fall down on the floor, clutching their belly and wailing.

    Which is why my children have vomited in some of the most awkward places, including all over a table at McDonalds.

    That abcess sounds *nasty*. Is it something that could be relieved by lots and lots of ice cream?

  27. Chrissy says:

    Several years ago my husband was going to the bathroom like 10,000 in one night and complaining about how tired he was. Sounds like a UTI to me! I had him drinking cranberry juice for about 4 days before he finally went to the doctor. Turns out he has DIABETES! All the sugar in the cranberry juice elevated his blood sugar to such levels he should have keeled over. Ooops! And, today I sent my 8 year old to school with a sore throat which sounds like no big deal until you find out I’ve had a double ear / throat infection for the past 8 days. I’m sure she’s fine. :)

  28. Becki says:

    When I was 15 months old, my mother took me to the doctor because my left knee was hideously swollen and I was running a very high fever. The doctor in our little podunk town (pop. 1,100) told he I must have fallen and hurt my knee and it was just a coincidence that I had a fever.

    My mom took me home, pulled out her Better Homes and Gardens medical guide and diagnosed me with osteomyelitis. She was right and I ended up needing 2 surgeries to fix it because it was too late for antibiotics.

    It’s 25 years later and I have no problems with my knee, other than a heinous scar and a little aching when it rains. If she had listened to the doctor, I probably would have ended up losing my leg.

  29. angela michelle says:

    Oh man–I’m always telling my kids they’ll be fine, tell me if it still hurts tomorrow…and usually I’m right but man do I feel like a lowdown dog when I’m not and they actually have scarlet fever or pinworms or broken bones (all have happened).

  30. Anne says:

    Um,yeah, feel your pain. I told my oldest two weeks ago to ’suck it up and be a big boy’ when he hurt his finger playing football in the neighborhood. A week later I took him to the MD for an unrelated issue and had him check out the finger since we were there…Broken. I felt like a real ass…had to buy him a gift to ease my guilt. Glad to hear I’m not the only one!

  31. Megan says:

    I get those throat abcess things every couple of months, I feel his pain! At first I was diagnosed with Coxsackie virus, which is what little kids get after poo finds its way into their mouths. So that was flattering, but now we’ve determined I get them as a side effect of fibromyalgia. As much as I hate getting them every few months, I am so glad I don’t have to keep telling my doctor, “But I don’t put crap in my mouth!”

    (Your son does not have fibromyalgia, I PROMISE, don’t worry!)

    Chris says: You know I was already googling it, right? ;-)

  32. Elizabeth says:

    A friend’s son once had an achey jaw and after “whining” about it for a week she took him to the doctor - he had broken his jaw falling off his bike (like Megan, I will point out cracked! It was only cracked!) I am always on WebMD. Considering all of the dire things I have diagnosed in myself I’m doing remarkably well.

  33. mary says:

    Don’t know whether to laugh or call the child welfare. Have you ever considered buying yourself a stethoscope? Could be a wise investment for your future calling. I tell my daughter ‘it’s nothing’, all the time(it usually is). The latest event was when she fell down on the netball court.We thought it rather graceful - she declared she heard something ’snap’. After a whole night of hobbling, ice packs, nurturing and ear plugs, I took her off to the doctors just to make sure (no swelling, no bruising, reasonable rotational movement). Doc said’ “Very mild sprain”. Daughter interpreted that to be ‘torn ligaments’ and stayed on couch for three days.

  34. shawny says:

    I am one of those Moms that will take my children to the Dr. for just about everything.Its better to be safe than sorry .They are not hypocondriacs and are happy ,healthy kids.I would feel horrible if I did nothing and it turned out to be life threatening.I could never live with myself if they died or got taken away from child services for not taking care of them. I dont mean to sound so judgemental but come on you moms get off your lazy bums and take your kid to the Dr. its better then driving to their funeral. I know you are good moms and love your children but laziness because you dont want to drive or have the money for a Dr appointment or think they are fine just doesnt cut it in my book.If you didnt want the hassle of taking care of your kids then dont have them.This is just my opinion and not judging you guys,you are the parents and know way better than I the care of your kids but I think you get my point.This is NOT a personal attack so please dont go there.I am sure that hundreds would have a few choice words on how I raise my kids.So please,just take this as my own opinion and mean no harm to anyone.I am sorry if I hurt or offended anyone.I hope all your guys kids are fine.

  35. Haley says:

    My doctor once told me, “I know you are going to google this, so here’s the correct spelling…”

    Welcome to the 21st century.

  36. Sara Bette says:

    I enjoy your blog, along with all of your million other readers. I read all of your archives while lying on the couch sick for a month (so nice to read about someone else with health problems!) Since I don’t generally read ALL of your comments, you might have heard of this before. I was eventually diagnosed with Wilson’s thryoid syndrome..(wwww.wilsonssyndrome.com) Its a fairly new discovery and if you have a low body temp you might want to check it out. Thanks for all of the funny posts!

  37. Hatchet says:


    That is all!

  38. Jasmina says:

    My dad used the three-day rule; if I ever complained about any physical ailment, he’d say “Give it three days.” Most stuff was gone and forgotten by then; if not, off to the doc. I use this on my kids and you know something–it still works!

  39. Shannon says:

    Holy cow, is this all the same son?

    My husband has a sob story about the time he tore some muscle in his arm playing dodgeball and his mom basically told him to shake it off.

  40. Shannon says:

    Oh and P.S., Dr. Google is evil. I have been forbidden to google the next time I get pregnant.

  41. InterstellarLass says:

    Growing up, I could never get away with faking illness - my dad was a doctor. And EVERYTHING was treated with a shot (not pills). So I did the exact opposite…even when I was sick I pretended I was well.

    I’m fairly blase about my kids’ complaints. Or lack thereof. My son had poison ivy for three weeks before I ever saw his red, scabby legs. But when his knees recently got twisted and swelled every day for over a week, I got our dr to MRI them. One slightly torn ligament on the left, a slightly lifted ligament on the right. He now has double knee braces. I’m not messing with his knee health at age 12!

  42. Bri says:

    Ha! My Dad had stomach pain and flu-like symptoms and whined and complained for days. My mom told him to suck it up and stop complaining like a big baby about the flu. Turns out he had appendicitis! Oops!

    We still make fun of her for that, it’s been years!

  43. Camilla says:

    Lol, well at that last time you identified the problem! I nearly spat my coffee out at the vision of you leaning over your son’s mouth with a torch and shouting “holy mother of god” at his little startled face, lmao. Poor kid, i hope it gets better.

  44. Brigitte says:

    Ah, I conference with Dr. Google all the time. Were you doing something in the basement, then had to run all the way to the attic for something? :-)

    An old college friend just died from the bends recently, guess those foreign diving outfits don’t monitor your surfacing speed too well.

  45. Lana says:

    I Googled my symptoms once (numb toe) and discovered that I had either leprosy or frostbite. Settled on the former since I live in the tropics.

    Of course, I never did go to the doctor to check…

  46. Sarah says:

    If it makes you feel any better, my Mom once sent me to school with a broken arm and thumb. She called my aunt who is married to a doctor to see if she thought it was broken. The aunt said no, so off I went. (this was before the internet)

  47. smarty says:

    Once after many hours of rolling-around-on-the-floor-clutching-stomach agony, I took my daughter to the er where after a complete blood work-up the x-rays showed she had (gasp) AIR IN HER STOMACH. GAS. now we never go to the dr. for anything.

  48. Kate, BunchaBlueEyedMonkeys says:

    Way to take it all in stride! You’re an excellent writer…very entertaining!!