The mean pneumonia doctor 22 years ago

As of this post, my oldest will soon be 23. I was recently reminded of an ER trip with him when he was a baby.

I was raised by a nurse, I was a working nurse’s aid (later to be an EMT), so suffice it to say, I was comfortable and knowledgeable about medical *stuff* and though I was a pretty responsible and intelligent 20-year-old, I actually looked 12-years-old. So judgments were swift by others. And since I was from a rural county in upstate New York, I was often deemed stupid or too young or incapable of being a good mom.

That night I took Taylor into the Emergency Room for what I KNEW was pneumonia. He had out of the blue spiked a fever at 3 pm and by 7 pm he was going downhill fast, so it was not going to wait until morning to see his pediatrician. Not with his respiratory history.

The ER doc was AWFUL. So rude. There was another very young couple in the same room with us that were clueless and scared about their newborn for what was an issue that was not Emergency Room worthy. I imagine that doctor saw thousands of those cases and instead of realizing he chose his profession, he was getting disgruntled.

I try to remember that he was perhaps unhappy and have more compassion for him than he had for us. But sometimes I just imagine throwing a scalpel into his toe.

I refused a blood gas on my baby because they’re incredibly painful and his fever had just spiked, not been spiked for days, so it wasn’t necessary to look for meningitis yet. I told the doctor about my son’s respiratory history and showed him that Taylor was retracting in the clavicle area while breathing in. This was a sign of pneumonia for him in the past (been there, done that).

I then insisted on chest x-rays before anything else was done.

The doc literally took his time ordering the x-rays. I could see and hear everything he was doing at the nurse’s station just outside of our room. He was wasting time, talking, doing paperwork, and NOT ORDERING the x-rays for quite a while.

Finally, they were ordered.

Finally, we were taken to the x-ray department.

But the doctor wasn’t done taking out his *whatever* on us just yet. When the x-rays returned, he ignored them for another hour-ish before looking.

We were there for well over three hours waiting at that point. I wish I weren’t so quiet back then. It took a lot for me to be assertive, even more, to be aggressive. While I’d advocated for my son and asked for x-rays and refused blood gasses, I didn’t have it in me to demand the doctor move his ass.

A poor sick baby and mom stuck on an ER bed late at night for nothing but a mean doctor with a chip on his shoulder.

When the doctor actually looked at the x-rays, it was indeed pneumonia. He then jumped up, gave us a dose of antibiotics to get started and a script for the morning. His demeanor changed toward us greatly and he got us right out the door quicker than any other ER ever has.

He never apologized, but I do hope he learned something and treated others better after seeing a family that broke his “redneck” expectations.


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