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True Confessions of a Pediatrician’s Wife

My husband is a pediatrician. Now, I know what you’re all thinking: Wow! How lucky you are! You must have the most healthy children! Yeah, no.

 

 

First, I must confess that my husband is not a general pediatrician. He did an additional three years of training to become a pediatric emergency room doctor. So, though he’s a Board Certified Pediatrician, he doesn’t go to an office 8-5 Monday through Friday.  He has forgotten much of what would be useful on a daily basis. Rashes? No clue. Developmental milestones? No idea. Random low-grade fevers? He chalks all of them up to viruses. He forgot all of that when he spent three years learning how to medically sedate a child after a trauma, talk to parents about their child’s surprise cancer diagnosis, and intubate kids that are struggling to breathe. 

So I decided the best way to talk about my experience of having a pediatrician for a husband is to create a pro/con list.

Pros:

  1. He can call in prescriptions. When your kid wakes up vomiting in the middle of the night, it’s nice to have a husband that can run to the pharmacy for Zofran. Or when your kid gets sent home from school with pink eye, a trip to the doctor isn’t necessary when you have a husband who can call-in eye drops.
  2. He can perform minor medical procedures at home. He’s stitched up our friend’s kids (and friends) in our bathroom, checked ears for signs of infection, FaceTimed with people to give a diagnosis (yes, your kid has croup), etc.
  3. We have an amazing First Aid kid, and he actually knows how to use it. I feel really comfortable on trips knowing that if something crazy or unforeseen were to happen, my kids would probably be ok.
  4. Doctors help each other out. We were on vacation in Colorado one Christmas. Our oldest son was not doing well in the altitude; at one point his pulse oxygen reading (the amount of oxygen in his blood) was in the 50’s. It should be in the upper 90’s or 100. He called Denver Children’s Hospital, got connected to a fellow ER doctor, skipped the waiting room, and Cooper was back to normal within a few hours. 

Cons:

  1. His patients come first. Always. When a code comes in ten minutes before his shift is scheduled to end, he stays. When a kid has a bolus of fluids to finish and he has to take one last look at them before he can come home, he stays. When he is sick and has a fever, he goes to work and wears a mask and gloves all day, and then spends the next several days in bed recovering.
  2. Holidays don’t exist. He worked all day Thanksgiving Day, overnight New Years Eve, and he’s worked the last three Memorial Days. He was lucky he had this last Christmas off, but next year he’ll have to work, I’m sure. I’ve learned to just plan around him.
  3. Being an ER pediatrician who sees horrible bone fractures, gunshot wounds, and kids who aren’t breathing, he often under-reacts. My middle son broke his collar bone when he fell off a chair when he was two. He cried for an hour before finally falling asleep. He was obviously in a lot of pain and kept telling us that his elbow hurt. My husband kept telling me that he was fine, that he had just broken his collar bone, and there was nothing to be done about it.                                                                                                                                               Now, the last time I checked, my husband is not Superman; he does not have x-ray vision. And the elbow and the collar bone are two very different things. So I ignored him and took my son the next day to get x-rays. And, of course, my husband was right. He had broken his collar bone. And all they did was give him a little, tiny sling with dinosaurs on it that he wore for the next two weeks. But still, my two-year-old BROKE A BONE IN HIS BODY, and my husband was like, “Eh. He’s fine.” Ugh.
  4. His schedule is crazy, and it’s never set. We find out 6 weeks ahead of time what his month will look like. For example, we got his March schedule in the middle of January. And his March schedule looks nothing like his February schedule. And, though there is a 7-4 and 8-5 shift, he rarely works them. Usually he works 3-midnight, 10pm-7am, or 7am-7pm. It makes scheduling things difficult, and we can almost never do things last minute. 

I couldn’t imagine my husband doing anything else with his life. He’s great with kids, level-headed in an emergency, and knows how to laugh-off a lot of the crazy things he sees. But though the IDEA of living with a pediatrician may seem great, the reality is sometimes far from it. 

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