Monday, February 16, 2009

not listening

My husband is back in the off licence (working, not drinking, I hasten to add) so after a long and happy hiatus, he's back on the tabloids, bringing me home stories. That Limerick guy, who killed the woman in the hotel, had attempted to abduct a child and been detained by her father two months before, but was still out and about murdering some one's mother a month later?

And then there's this, about the 8 year old whose phobia of the dentist led her to starve herself rather than have to go back ever again.

And the hospital/GP system which seemed to allow her to die, without noticing what was going on? I don't even know how her parents factored into it, but as the mother of a child who refuses to eat much, they have my sympathy.

It's a bewildering, frustrating thing.

But first of all, the girl had eight teeth pulled.
We decided that bringing Olivia to the paediatric dentist was the way forward, to ensure she had a positive experience. Despite the good things I'd heard about the HSE dentists, I met a woman in the waiting room whose daughter was there because of her experience at the hands of a HSE dentist - she didn't give me details, just said that she hadn't been allowed go in, and that it had been pretty horrific. God knows what that little girl had been through. Will the dentist be investigated, I wonder?

The hospitals and GP's writing her off makes all too much sense too, I'm afraid. I took Olivia to the GP last year, trying to discover the source of her ongoing stomach pains. It turned out that she had a slight fever at the time, so the GP dismissed them as swollen glands. The trip to the doctor on Halloween night, he suggested worms were the most likely. Though last week I took her for allergy testing to be told she has gluten and lactose sensitivities - which would certainly account for the pain she's been experiencing after eating.

And in the dentist's, after her tooth was capped, she complained loudly of pain in her teeth. Despite the fact that she'd sat still and uncomplaining through the whole root canal, no, they said, she'd still be anaesthetised, there was no way she could be hurting yet. I couldn't give her Calpol as I'd given her some that morning, and had to wait another hour. But it would be hours before the injection wore off, they insisted.

The dentist also dismissed the idea that she could be shaking uncontrollably because of the injection (I think they give them a big whack, not taking any chances). I asked a second time if that's what her visible shaking was. 'No', he snapped, 'It's not from the anaesthetic'.
Yet each time I get a large dose of it, it makes me shaky afterwards, one dentist assistant told me I might be allergic... so why not her?

But that night, I suggested flossing lying down, as the dentist had had no trouble reaching her teeth that way after finishing the work. She leapt to say no, that had been sore - she had lain there, silent and uncomplaining, but the flossing had clearly been painful, or she wouldn't have reacted like that. And it shows that yes, she had feeling back in her cut up gums. Despite their assertions otherwise.

Why don't patients get listened to? Children especially, but also parents, or just patients? Mothers in labour, especially. We know what we feel. We know what we need a lot of the time.

That dismissive attitude needs to change.

When I was in hospital with Bodhi, watching him being prodded and poked and x-rayed and pumped full of antibiotics he didn't need, I was grateful to the lovely paediatrician for asking me how I thought he was. And listening, when I said I thought he was absolutely fine. I hope he also listens when parents say they know something is wrong, even if nothing shows up on the tests.

I hope those parents weren't given the line about how the doctors 'never treated a child for malnutrition' or that 'she'll eat when she's hungry'.

I know my own girl is depriving herself of essential fatty acids and antioxidants and proteins she'll need later on, for disease prevention and reproduction and so on. The weight of being responsible for that is huge. My heart goes out to those parents, and their frustration and uncertainty.


Holemaster said...

I had a horrific time with the local Health Board dentist when I was a kid. Scarred me for life (and scared me).

nick said...

Funny how dentists don't quite believe the anaesthetic isn't working. I often need an extra jab of the stuff, and they seem to think I'm fooling around, that I've cunningly neutralised the original dose.

Unnecessary pain is particularly alarming to a child who trusts adults to be gentle and reassuring.

jothemama said...

I had to have THREE goes of it the last few times I've been - luckily my dentist is as eager to keep it pain free as me :)

I think she was fine thorugh the ctual root canal, just sore at the end. They do give LOADS, she had a chipmonk cheek.

Xbox4NappyRash said...

I didn't want to comment as this gives me the heebies.

In Bishopstown probably ten years ago now, I ended up with the nurse holding my head and the dentist with his knee up on the chair beside me as he swung himself with both hands off the tooth he was trying to pull.

I slept for 21 hours straight after that.

Peitseoga said...

the not listening to patients and their relatives gets me, too. remember the case where somebody had forgotten to take the nil-by-mouth off the chart of a paralysed woman, when they stopped the IV nutrients? she starved to death even though her relatives were alerting staff and saying they were concerned?