Who needs Obamacare? We’ve got Mamacare!!
From my column this past weekend:
I’m not a doctor, but I play one at home. It started simply enough. When they are little, children believe that moms have magical powers in their kisses that heal. As kids get older, they demand a fully stocked first aid kit and a very calm mother who seems to know what she is talking about. I’ve adapted my at-home practice to include diagnosis, treatment and a reasonable prognosis for recovery.
For example, when a child comes in crying after having peeled off some knee skin in a driveway fall, I patiently sit through a full medical history. This often involves a long dissertation about how the injury occurred, a vivid description of who is at fault and great, heaving sobs.
Diagnosis, in this situation, is simple. Treatment involves various wet cloths, bandages and, almost always, telling the child to rest on the couch until the pain eases. Sending the other children scurrying for supplies confirms, in the mind of the child, that I appreciate the gravity of the situation.
I also provide an estimate of when the injury will feel better. In the mind of a child — well, all of my children, anyway — it seems that any pain and injury will go on forever.
“This will hurt for an hour” provides some reassurance that the pain will eventually end. I always overestimate so they can feel like they’ve had a better than average recovery.
Particularly nasty bumps and bruises often warrant time in front of a movie or electronic device to achieve maximum healing. The kids think I’m being nice. They don’t know I’m keeping an eye on them to see if they need to go see someone with actual medical training.
Several years ago, in the time before kids, a friend who was a nurse gave me some great advice about dealing with routine illnesses. “Wait three days,” she said. Most of the time, that works perfectly for us. By the time we’ve gone through a few vats of chicken broth and honey lemon tea, the child in question is either feeling better or has infected us all. In the latter case, we’re all too tired to pack up and head in, so we keep dosing with plenty of rest and fluids.
I’ve long contended that holding onto a vomiting child and not letting go is the truest test of parental love. Like most parents, we’ve had plenty of opportunities to prove our devotion over the years. In those cases, the fear of having to clean the van after a trip to town encourages us all to try to treat the illness at home.
And then there is that middle-of-the-night vomiting wherein I assure my children it will pass because I’m too exhausted to do anything but throw the sheets in front of the washer and set the sick child on up on the couch for the rest of the night. By the time we’re awake the next day and all is cleaned up, everyone is usually feeling better.
My legal disclaimer (I’m not a lawyer, but I play one of those at home sometimes, too) is that this information applies only to our family and does not include any diagnosis or treatment of major illness or trauma.
When my oldest son broke his arm slipping and sliding in the front yard, I did not tell him to wait three days for medical treatment. We called 911. Home medicine only goes so far, after all.
In the middle of the various and sundry medical issues, we have conversations about staying as healthy as possible. It’s all a homeschool version of health education.