Feb 24, 2012

"Fix it Mommy!"

                 Earlier this week I picked my 3 and 6 year old sons up from preschool and Kindergarten (they are in the same building).  When we got home from school my 3 year old, G said “Mommy, my ears aren’t hearing very well because they are all cloudy.”  Over the weekend he had been a little sniffly.  I thought that maybe his ears were plugged due to this. 

                After about a half an hour I noticed that his ear lobes were bright red.  They also felt warm to the touch.  Neither of my kids have ever had this occur before.  I thought it was time to call the doctor.  I am not one who usually jumps at calling the doctor for every abnormal symptom my children have.  For some reason this time it just seemed necessary.  I think partially because in the back of my mind I was thinking that he may have an ear infection.  I had a terrible ear infection in college.  I went through 3 rounds on antibiotics along with ear drops.  It was one of the most painful experiences I have ever had.  If this was what was going on with him I just wanted to get it taken care of as soon as possible and get him feeling better.

                I explained my son’s symptoms to the receptionist.  She told me to keep an eye on him, but there was nothing that could be done at this point.  I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the tone of her voice.  She wasn’t blatantly rude, but she wasn’t friendly either.  It was almost as if she were calling me an idiot for being concerned over warm, discolored ear lobes.  In all fairness I’m sure she gets several silly phone calls on a daily basis.  Needless to say, I was slightly annoyed when I hung the phone up.

                By the time my husband, Brent, got home from work G was beginning to decline in spirits.  I explained G’s symptoms and told him that I had phoned the doctor.  After I finished the explanation Baby M needed to be fed.  I took her up stairs to feed her.  Meanwhile, my hubby was preparing dinner and entertaining both B and G.  In hopes of helping to make G feel better Brent was making the dinner G selected, pizza.  I had no sooner finished feeding Baby M when I could hear quite a bit of commotion coming from downstairs.  Brent entered our bedroom and informed me that G’s was pretty much in a downward spiral at this point and that he was crying uncontrollably about his ears hurting.  Brent was immediately followed by G, who was absolutely pitiful!

                Of course as luck would have it, it was 6:45.  The doctor’s office was closed.  Brent and I discussed what to do to help the obvious pain G was in.  We concluded that going to The Minute Clinic at CVS may be faster than going to the ER.  I looked at the CVS web page to see if they were able to do anything for an earache.  Upon looking at the page I saw that the clinic closed at 7:00.  I also noticed that there was not a Minute Clinic located in the CVS that is literally 5 minutes from our house, so I would need to take him to one that is further away.  Brent and I quickly got G ready and in the car and I drove, well flew actually, us to CVS. 

                G and I hurried into CVS (I’m sure we were quite the sight to look at) and to the clinic, which is at the back of the store (of course).  We were informed that the clinic was closed.  Feeling like a total failure I carried G back out to the car and decided to take him to immediate care.  As I was pulling out of the parking lot I noticed the Walgreens across the street.  Outside of the building it advertised at Take Care clinic.  I drove us to Walgreens and rushed inside, once again. 

                This time we were greeted by someone who appeared to be a medical technician (I’m not positive about this, but I’ll refer to her as Tech Lady).  I explained that I had not been to the clinic before and needed help with the process.  I also explained what G’s symptoms were.  Tech Lady (who was very nice and I’m sure just doing her job) says “Well I’m not sure if they are taking anyone else, did you make an appointment?”

                                ~Did I make an appointment?!  Lady I just told you I have not been here
                              before and I don’t know what to do, NO I DID NOT MAKE AN APPOINTMENT!~

Tech Lady explained that in the future I could make an appointment on line (Thank you for the information Lady, but please just help my son).  She went to find out if someone was able to see G.  She returned and told me that they would see him and helped me with the sign in process. Tech Lady also asked for my insurance card (which I expected) and took G to get his vitals while I continued filling out information.  Another person came out (this was the person who would later actually ‘diagnose’ G, she will be referred to as Nurse) and informed me that they did not accept our insurance because it was based out of Massachusetts (I have never come across this problem before).  Nurse proceeded to ask me if I still wanted to have G seen. 
                           ~Again, I'm fully aware that she was just doing her job, but
                             SERIOUSLY!?  My son is standing her CRYING because his
                             ears hurt so badly and you'reasking me if I still want him to be
                             seen?  YES, YES, I do!  Please help him to feel better.~
After I finished jumping through all of the paper work hoops they took us into a room to take a look at G.  Nurse took his temperature, it’s 99.8.  She went to her computer as if she’s going to enter some information and then said, “I’ll look in his ears first before I do this.  That way if he doesn’t really have an ear infection I don’t have to charge you so much” (I really appreciated her doing this).  Nurse took a look in G’s ears and commented that they were very red.  She then looked down his throat and mentioned that it was red as well, but she doesn’t want to put him through a Strep test because the same antibiotic is used to treat ear infections and Strep. 

                After the diagnosis was confirmed we waited to have the prescription filled.  While we were waiting G complained that he felt as if he were going to throw up.  There he was doubled over holding his stomach at Walgreens.  I asked the pharmacist if there were a bathroom I could take him to.  The pharmacist handed me a small trash can.  I placed the trash can in front of G, who hung his head over it and removed his glasses (for the record he never did get sick).  At this point I am feeling helpless.  All I want to do is fix this situation for my baby.  After all that’s what I am supposed to do as his Mommy, right?  The help I am able to get for my son is completely at the mercy of these people at Walgreens and they seem to be more wrapped up in making sure the paper work has been completed accurately than tending to the needs of G.  By no means do I expect anyone to hand anything to me or to do things for me, but let’s be realistic here.  I am upset because it seems as if society has become so wrapped up in ‘completing the form’ and ‘getting paid’ that it appears as if we have over looked basic human needs.  For goodness sakes people, we are talking about a 3 YEAR OLD who is in need!

                We got his medicine and were on our way home.  When I got home and explained the insurance debacle to Brent and he was . . . well let’s just say extremely upset, about the situation.  The next morning Brent called the insurance company and explained the previous night’s events.  The insurance company informed him that there is a phone number on the back of the card.  The people at Walgreens just needed to call the number to find out about coverage.  Brent was told to send the receipt in to have the claim adjusted.  How completely frustrating!  The bottom line here is that G finally got what he needed and is doing well.  I am disheartened with the process in which we were required to take in order to have his needs met.

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