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Managing Your Child’s Health Care Without Panic

Photo: weweartit.com

photo: weheartit.com

Managing your child’s health isn’t easy, and yet it’s something every parent has to do from the time our child is born. Often this is straightforward, but sometimes it isn’t. What do you do when something is actually wrong with your child’s health, and the diagnosis isn’t clear? The scenario goes something like this:

1) The doctor reviews blood test and other test results, yet can’t help you from there. So the doctor recommends a specialist, who in turn recommends a different specialist. No one seems to be able to pin down an explanation.

-OR-

2) The doctor or specialist doesn’t see a need for further investigation. “Don’t worry,” they say, “Your son/daughter will grow out of it.” However, your instincts tell you that their assessment is missing something. In your gut, you know your child, and you know there’s something wrong.

Either way, your child is suffering, and you want to help them – you just don’t know how. So you’re faced with a lot of unknowns about how to proceed, with several questions on the fore: Whom can I trust? Will the visits be covered, or will we need to go private, and how much will that cost? How can I know we’re getting the best care? How much time off work will I have to take, and my child from school? Should we go alternative?

Needless to say, the chance of anxiety at this moment is high. So let’s turn it around, and use anxiety for its positive power: Channel anxiety into action. Here are suggestions for pursuing medical care for your child, especially when the path toward healing is not clear.

  1. Know your goal – to make sure your child can be healthy again. Arguably, our children’s health is the most imporant aspect of our parenting. After all, no parent ever says,”I wish I hadn’t put so much effort into my child’s health.”
  2. Go with your instincts. You have a right to question doctors’ assessments, even from doctors you’ve trusted for years. Your parental instincts are your ultimate guide: if you don’t feel right about something, it isn’t right. Your anxiety is not something to be ignored in this case.
  3. Take it step by step, and tell yourself you can handle this. One phone call at a time, one day at a time. You might want this to be a sprint, yet be prepared for a marathon, or at least a 10K. And as much as you feel overwhelmed, you can do it.
  4. Canvass the internet for all it’s worth. Obviously, you’ll Google the topic, yet don’t stop there. Crowdsource your local social media connections for recommendations of experts and treatments in your child’s case – often, you receive a wealth of information within a day or two just from Facebook and Twitter. Mommy or parenting groups can be especially helpful.
  5. Canvass your trusted friends in the field. If you know anyone who you think could help you, give them a call or at least send them an email. A few minutes of communication might mean the world to your search for answers.
  6. Ask for support in your time of need. You might need help juggling things in your in your routine. Be honest with your boss about your need for some time off here and there, perhaps offering to work from home or other flex-time arrangement. Don’t hesitate to ask friends and family to chip in for childcare for other children, or to spend the money on babysitters. It’s okay to show we can’t do it all. It’s okay to be vulnerable. Still uncomfortable? Remember it’s for your child – not for you. By letting people in on your family’s need, you will see who are your real supports and trusted friends.
  1. Take advantage of bonding time. You’ll be with your child more often, what with the extra commuting and waiting room times. So, why not make it fun and interesting? Bring books or magazines to read to them (even teenagers can appreciate being read to). Choose a couple of educational internet sites as go-to’s on your smartphone or tablet. Bring their homework along and do it together. Have an ongoing project, such as learning all of the Mediterranean countries and their capitals. You and your child might even end up enjoying it!
  1. Keep at it until your anxiety subsides. Parenting and anxiety are almost synonymous these days, so I’m not saying to aim for a state of zen here. Instead, keep up your advocacy and working these steps until your worry about this subsides. When worries migrate to other things, and this particular worry stops waking you up at night, this is your signal its ok to let go for now.

Running around to doctors for our children is part of being a parent. At least once a year, we need to fit in the physicals and dental checkups for school and camp. But when your child’s health assessment is in limbo, medical care gets more complicated, and generates decidedly more anxiety for a reason. This is where harnessing the focus, energy, and wisdom of your anxiety can really help you engage the medical process for your child’s benefit. It might be shorter road, it might be a longer road, but ultimately, your loving advocacy will be helping your child, and putting into action what we all want for our children: the best.

 

 

 

Alicia H. Clark, PsyD

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