Thursday, September 08, 2011

The scare called Meningitis

After reading Rohini's experience with the medical fraternity, I was reminded of this most painful episode of my life. It was when chattambi was hospitalized. He was just a baby all of 4 months then. His soft spot was swollen one evening and he was running a high fever of 99-100deg c. We took him to his pediatrician immediately. She initially said the swelling was because of high fever and will subside when the fever subsides. And we talked some more and the doctor started talking about how this is a symptom of meningitis. Soon she termed it as a medical emergency. We were on high alert. She advised us to hospitalize him immediately. We did as advised and the doctor had instructed the doctors on duty for a few tests. The little fellow cried for more than half an hour while the doctors tried to inject a needle into his baby veins. We were asked to wait outside. That 30-40 mins outside the ward was very traumatic. When the door opened, we got into an altercation with the doctors that night and never saw them again in the 3 days we were at the hospital.He was administered wide-spectrum anti-biotic through saline. After that he went through a CT scan and also lumbar puncture which required inserting a needle into his spine. After a few other blood tests it was reported that there was nothing. All the reports came back negative. It was just fever and when that subsided all was well.

Back home, I was feeling quite upset about having to let my child go through all that pain. So I started googling about meningitis. I learnt there are 2 kinds of meningitis, bacterial and viral. Bacterial meningitis can be life-threatening if not treated right away. Viral meningitis is very common in kids and mostly since it is accompanied by fever goes undiagnosed. Of the various symptoms listed, all my child had was fever and the swollen soft spot and I know that is not conclusive. So only the doctors can tell the difference. And if they suspect bacterial the whole course of treatments is the way to go.

In hindsight because nothing came through the reports and the tests, I know it was viral and feel very bitter about the whole episode but at that point we trusted the doctor totally and even today if a doctor called something an emergency situation we would still run and endure anything and be safe than sorry.

Thereafter I noticed that everytime we went for chattambi's vaccinations she was prescribing something for the peapod too and charging us for it as well. She would look at the peapod and generally say things like oh she looks so dull .... is she very stubborn? Most 4-5 year children are stubborn, atleast that is what most parents think about their brood. The term "very stubborn" is relative. And then she prescribed an iron supplement since stubbornness is a symptom of iron deficiency and such like. After the meningitis episode I was very wary of her but she was the only reputed pediatrician in our area. While I kept getting irritated with her irate diagnosis, P was still tuned in. But slowly with every visit, even P was getting more bewildered at her general diagnosis about droopy eyes and dull faces and the different supplements she kept writing down. As soon as I saw P getting irritated, I was only happy to keep the visits to a minimum. We now take both the kids to a general physician, our family doctor for everything except for vaccinations. We still go to her for vaccinations and do not take the other kid along. That works for us.

Just to clarify, I do not believe she was purposefully fleecing us then but she wasn't sure or confident about her own initial diagnosis and thought it was better to get all the tests done. All the time we were at the hospital and latter too she would repeatedly reassure us that it was good we did all the tests so now we do not have any doubts at all. But in my opinion my child went through a lot of needless crap because she wasn't a good enough doctor. I am not really convinced today that our situation then warranted ALL that tests. But prescribing supplements for the accompanying child with no complaints whatsoever, that I think is a fleecing strategy.

Money spent is one matter but subjecting kids to unnecessary medications and tests is so not done.

Btw, Did you notice the new makeover of the blog? The picasa application was so easy to use to create that header. When I say easy..I mean really easy peasy


Timepass said...

Sounds really scary..BTW i am in pune now. would love to get in touch.

Sumana said...

Oh wow it must have been a nightmare. This happened with us as well but the difference is my son was diagnosed with KD. I can understand what you might have gone thru. Hoping all is well now.

noon said...

Goodness - so scary. Ridiculous to have so many tests done...but what can we do as parents if we are not doctors ourselves. Too hard.
BTW write about this Picassa thing!