Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The formidable task of calling a sick day

Sick Day!

To go to school or not go to school, that is the question. 

I've grappled with this question many a time during my decade of motherhood.  Sure, the school sends out guidelines −a list of symptoms that merit a sick day.  But sometimes a child's ailments don't fit squarely within the list.  He looks green, but he hasn't vomited.  He's drowsy, with no fever.  It's then up to the parent to use his or her best (non-medical) judgement to gauge a child's ability to attend school (and not infect any other students).

Today was one of those days where I was asked to determine Caleb's school readiness.  He was tired, really tired.  He slept almost continuously since yesterday afternoon.  He wasn't eating much.  He had a glazed look in his eyes and a raspy voice.  But, he didn't have a fever.  He never vomited.  He had no intestinal issues.  What to do?

You may think, aren't you married to a doctor?  Shouldn't he be making the "school or no school" call?  

The thing about daddy doctors are:

1)  More than likely, they are working and not home to exam their own children.

2)  If they are home (or available by phone), they'll probably say the child is fine.  

I've learned from experience, a daddy doctor's definition of "fine" differs from a school's definition of "fine."  The daddy doctor will ask, "Is he bleeding profusely?  Does he have a pulse?  Are any limbs missing?  Is he unconscious?"  Upon hearing that the child has merely a nasty cold or seems particularly tired, the daddy doctor will laugh and toss out "he's fine."  And so the child will go to school.  Within minutes of arrival in a classroom, the nurse will call requesting a parent pick up for the very not-fine child.

And so, it's up to me to use my best medical judgment to make the call (pulling from all the knowledge I gained from watching ER reruns and General Hospital).

Today, I deemed Caleb sick.  I'm thinking a day on the couch will do wonders, until the next child is infected.


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