When my oldest daughter, Hesperus, was a baby, I dutifully took her to “Well Baby” doctor visits.
We lived in Atlanta, Georgia, a city known for its searing summers, ice cold sweet tea, streets named after peaches, and harried doctors.
I would take my healthy baby into a waiting room full of sick people at the appointed time. Then Hesperus and I would wait, and wait, and wait.
After a wait time of at least 20 minutes and sometimes as much as an hour or more, the doctor would spend about three minutes with us.
When Hesperus was six months old, we went for a Well Baby visit. It was her nap time and by then she was used to napping in her crib in a quiet room in the dark. The doctor was running late that day and made us wait for an hour and fifteen minutes. So Hesperus did what I often feel like doing when I am in a doctor’s waiting room: she started howling. She howled and howled and howled.
By the time we went to see the doctor, my daughter’s face was beet red and her eyes were swollen from crying.
“I think Miss Hesperus has an ear infection,” the doctor said, looking into her ears.
The doctor prescribed me antibiotics for my baby’s ear infection. And drops “for the pain.”
Only, Hesperus wasn’t in pain. She wasn’t sick. She didn’t have an ear infection.
She was crying because she was tired. She was crying because doctors in America do not have the decency to stick to their schedules.
I was such an insecure and naive new mom that I stayed at the clinic for another hour to get the prescription filled. By that time, Baby Hesperus was happy again, sitting on the ground gurgling at strangers.
We drove home. She slept so soundly in the car that she didn’t wake when I brought her inside. I had recently bought Robert Mendelsohn’s, How To Raise A Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor. Mendelsohn claims that ear infections are one of the most overtreated illnesses in America and that if a child is crying his eardrums may look red and a doctor may mistakenly think he has a severe infection.
My baby did not have an ear infection. She was the victim of an incompetent medical system and an inept doctor.
That was the last “Well Baby” visit I have ever taken a child to.
What about you? Do you take your baby to the doctor regularly? Are you made to wait for inappropriate amounts of time? Have your kids been struggling with ear infections? Do you have other ways to treat them or do you rely on antibiotics? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.