Twenty-three years ago, when I carried my first son, my doctor recommended a glass of wine when I had trouble sleeping. Two years later, the same doctor introduced me to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and made it clear, failure to comply was child abuse. This is typical of the fun the medical community likes to have with us.
Now they are at it again. Mammograms, no mammograms?! I have no idea what’s right. Just what does a person like me do when the doctors can’t agree? I know for sure that I am not giving up self-examination. The only reason I can imagine they would tell us that is unnecessary is because we are worth more money if we are sick. However there were those two very uncomfortable hours of my life I would like to get back if the no mammogram thing turns out to be valid.
When I was a child, “You’ll put an eye out!” pretty much covered it all. In a pinch, Mom would throw in, “Knock it off before you break something!” or maybe, “You’ll get pneumonia.” This warning was usually followed by a dose of baby aspirin. I was 14 when Mom heard that might kill us and she switched to Tylenol.
In 1993, I took my youngest son for a well baby check. His doctor found an ear infection. The child had no pain and no fever, but I was somehow at fault. After dutifully submitting to his lecture on diligence, I filled the prescription for antibiotics and did my penance, wearing the pink gooey stuff for ten days. I have spent 15 years feeling badly about that one. Then I heard that antibiotics are over prescribed especially for that malady and often lead to a resistance of the medication…yeah, you know who you are, Buddy, and you owe me an apology.
“The doctor said” has been the rule in our house since 1987. I just wish the doctor knew what he was preaching about. Even though “it didn’t kill me” constantly crosses my mind, I make sure the children do as I am told. No eggs over easy, low glycemic meals and no rare meat are a few of the rules that govern their lives. Brushing for three minutes, veggie scrubbing and stalking Ecoli in the kitchen are a family past time. Caffeine is a habit they will have to develop on their own time and the last time my son said “sugar” I washed his mouth out. Using anti bacterial soap of course.
The seventeen-year-old wants a car, but in addition to a vivid recollection of my driving habits in those years, there are published statistics about teenage drivers. The fourteen-year-old recently mugged a neighbor kid for a swig of his Mountain Dew, and 10-year-old Tessa would rather have West Nile and Lyme’s Disease than wear the DEET free repellant I bought. Their stepfather liked refined flour and is beginning to question the famine story I made up when I replaced his potatoes with squash.
My oldest swears I should have spent more time on “you’ll put your eye out”. Chasing his sister through a string of trees with a snowball, he almost did. Failing that (and I did) I have less and less confidence in the information I am relying on. I am no longer worried so much about their health as I am about mine. If I don’t start getting reliable information around here the swine flu may not kill me but my family definitely will.