Sunday, December 20, 2009

What I learned from my pediatrician

We've had the same pediatrician since we moved here 13 years ago. One thing I like about Dr. G is that he's not highly interventionist; if you call him about an ear infection he'll tell you 80% of ear infections resolve themselves in 48 hours, and to give Tylenol for pain before we consider moving to antibiotics. Another thing I like is that he teaches you how to handle problems yourself. Over the years I've learned how to test for a broken bone, what the signs of respiratory distress are, and that a nearly-bit-through tongue will heal itself in about a day (no stitches needed!)

Perhaps the best thing Dr G has taught me, though, is how to keep problems in perspective. His philosophy is, "There are only three things that can happen here: things can get better, stay the same, or get worse. We only need to worry about one of those." Dr. G lays out the possibilities for what could be wrong, making it clear that we're not going to worry about the .0006% chance that we're dealing with something hideous until we've eliminated the 98% chance that it's something simple, the 1.5% chance that it's something moderately serious, and the other fractions of a chance that it's something weird. In other words, we work from the most likely to the least likely.

Today after church the kids were playing in the snow as I chatted with friends. There was a coffee hour, and at some point several children went in (as did I) to warm up and get a little snack. Eldest and Big Guy asked to go home, and the other kids went back outside. A while later I came out to retrieve everyone, and Little Guy was missing. Couldn't find him inside, outside, anywhere.

Thanks to Dr G, my first thought was of what was most likely: Little Guy had gone home with the big kids. I stationed a friend at the church (in case Little Guy showed up) and headed home. As I scurried along I figured out the next most likely place to look, if he didn't happen to be at home. But I opened the door, and there was Little Guy. I said, "Oh, here you are! I didn't know where you were!" Little Guy replied, "I didn't know where you were, either!"

No harm done. No panic. Thanks, Dr. G!

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