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Lessons From a Three-Year-Old

It's beginning to feel a lot like hospital roulette these days. Looking back on our vacations over the past two years, it's hard to remember one in which younger son didn't have to either go to a doctor or hospital.

First, it was Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City nearly two years ago. And, having spent four days eating, sleeping and caring for a sick child in the hospital, I can't say enough fabulous things about the nurses and doctors in that facility. In January, illness in California brought us to my niece and nephew's pediatrician. Then, last week, hospital-level sickness struck again. Again good, prompt care with a staff who listened to what I knew would work (and didn't) to help my child. Those visits complement several to the emergency room that thankfully is five minutes from our house.

Given that illness strikes on each and every vacation, I'm setting new ground rules:

1. Always pack an illness/medicine history.

2. Always bring emergency medicines.

3. Keep a handy list of hospitals along the vacation route and near any overnight stays.

Have you or your children been sick while on vacation? What lessons have you learned?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  August 14, 2007; 7:49 AM ET  | Category:  Babies , Elementary Schoolers , Preschoolers
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Comments


From the day they were born, I've keep a loose-leaf binder for each of my children. It contains every prescription they've ever had (with comments on efficacy). I bring it to every well and sick visit and take notes in it. I've brought it to the nightime pediatric clinic when we go and to the ER when we have gone.

Often, the nurses and doctors comment on how great it is to see a complete medical history as our memories can easily fail us.

When we go away, I take them along. Haven't needed them yet (fortunately) but it's worth the added weight in the bags.

Posted by: Father of 2 | August 14, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

It is kind of a pity that You need to have that kind of binder Father of 2, but it does highlight the benefits that a unified, cradle to grave, electronic medical database would have for the US. There are reasonable questions about the security of such a database, as demonstrated by a few cases that have come up in the UK, but the advantages are obvious.

More on subject, though, I remember that my youngest sister came down with Rubella while we were on vacation at the beach. She stopped breathing, and she had to go to the hospital (which was more than an hour away I think). My mother, a former nurse, used CPR until the paramedics got there.

...which reminds me that I should register to get my own CPR certification renewed.

Posted by: David S | August 14, 2007 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Travel insurance!!! In case you end up having to cancel the whole trip.

Posted by: barfster | August 14, 2007 9:00 AM | Report abuse

"It is kind of a pity that You need to have that kind of binder Father of 2"

Well, the binders are somewhat thin. Fortunately, the kids have been healthy. For one, ear infections were the norm until ear tubes. The binder can tell you which antibiotic worked for him and which one didn't (other ear got infected while on it).

In general, it's basically a replica of the file kept by the pediatrician's office (height/weight growth, vacinations, etc.)

Posted by: Father of 2 | August 14, 2007 9:10 AM | Report abuse

I'm confused. What are the lessons from a three year old?

Posted by: newhere | August 14, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

All I could think about when I read this was a family trip back in the late '80's my family took to Smith Mountain Lake.

My brother caught some sort of GI bug and was in pretty severe distress - we pretty much dedicated one bathroom in the rented house specifically for his use and nuked it clean before we left. Historically, my brother is prone to these bugs, so my parents pretty much knew the drill here.

My father - a physician - wrote a prescription for a strong anti-diarrheal medicine and took it to a local drug store, while stocking up on Gatorade and juice.

The pharmacist noted the similar names between my father and the name on the prescription, and politely asked who the 'scrip was for; my father replied "my son".

The pharmacist then kindly asked my father if he thought my brother could swallow the pills, which were a bit largish.

My father laughed, and said he hoped so - his son was 22....

Trust me, it doesn't stop when they're little!

Posted by: Chasmosaur | August 14, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

The lesson I learned after being out at an all day festival with 3 year old who came down with a horrendous bout of projectile vomiting was to Always Always Always bring hand sanitizer. Always.
Also, bring something that can act as emergency barf bags in the car you never know when car-sickness can strike.

Posted by: Kirstin B | August 14, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I'm confused. What are the lessons from a three year old?

No one likes you, go away.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Now that I vented on newhere, I will post on topic. Yes, it wasn't nice, sorry.

My daughter got sick on vacation when she was about seven months old. She puked on me at dinner, screamed all the way to the hospital and had the first of many ear infections. It sucks, but it happens. I always take meds with me for headaches, tummy aches, etc.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I'm confused. What are the lessons from a three year old?

No one likes you, go away.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14, 2007 10:11 AM

Jesus loves you.

Posted by: newhere | August 14, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

by Father of 2 @ August 14, 2007 09:10 AM

"Well, the binders are somewhat thin. Fortunately, the kids have been healthy. For one, ear infections were the norm until ear tubes. The binder can tell you which antibiotic worked for him and which one didn't (other ear got infected while on it).

"In general, it's basically a replica of the file kept by the pediatrician's office (height/weight growth, vacinations, etc.)"

Don't get me wrong, I think this is a great idea. I actually started keeping one of these (albeit digitally) for my wife and myself a few years back. Even if you are relatively healthy, medicine is pretty darn personal (in terms of what works best) and this kind of information can be invaluable.

I guess I was expressing the desire to see a digital system much like they have in Britain (and perhaps other countries) that can be accessed across the country via the internet. They have this because of their socialized medicine, but I think it would be beneficial to have in the US regardless if we go that route. That way, in theory, even parents who may not have the resources and knowledge to create a databook like we have can benefit from at least some of the same advantages.

Posted by: David S | August 14, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I agree with David S that a digital system would be great. When I entered grad school at the age of 28 I had to have all my vaccinations renewed because I couldn't find the records--that's one problem that would have been solved with a national database. Also, a good friend of mine has had cancer for years and spends so much time reciting which medicines she is on, which she is allergic to, etc., when she has to go to the ER--and she is NEVER in a condition to do so when she is that sick. Wouldn't it be nice if they didn't have to ask? I understand the security concerns but I think they can be dealt with. And I definitely think the benefits would outweigh the risks.

Posted by: teaspoon2007 | August 14, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

The lesson is, they only ever get sick on evenings, weekends, and vacations.

Posted by: jwspencer | August 14, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I was 14, and the whole family of six was going to spend a month on the road, in the family stationwagon, pulling the 20-ft travel trailer behind us. It was 1973, and we were going from California to Washington D.C. and back.

I got sick a couple of days before the beginning of the roadtrip. The usual, a summer cold, no big deal... except I *always* got nosebleeds when I got a cold.

As we continued across the country, the cold got worse, and the nosebleeds became more frequent and severe. In Kansas City, MO, after 45 minutes of uncontrolled bleeding, I fainted. That had never happened before.

Somehow, my parents found a doc, and got an emergency appointment. In the mean time, the fainting had reduced the bleeding, and since I wasn't drowning or sufficating from extreme quantities running down my throat anymore, I woke up again.

The doc taught me to tilt my head forward, not backward, so the blood wouldn't run down my throat any more. Then he taught me the *correct* way to close off my nose, and how long to keep it closed, so the bleeding would stop.

He probably also prescribed something to help with the cold symptoms, because after that totally scary/freaky day, I got well pretty fast, and the rest of the vacation was pretty good.

Sorry, that's a kind of gross story. Learning how to control and stop my nosebleeds was a major life-changing event for me, though. It even helped a few other nosebleed-suffers later on.

Posted by: Sue | August 14, 2007 5:38 PM | Report abuse

We rarely if ever had problems with our older child, but the yougest one (not quite two) has already shown her colors in this regard.

Her first Christmas, we went to visit family and found ourselves in the Urgent care center for a bad case of the croup. I will never forget trying to get the antibiotics and antiinflammatories into a 3 month old!

The following year it was an ear infection, and then this summer it was a trip to the emergency room for stitches in her lip. I give lots of credit to the medical professionals in Indianapolis--it was the best E/R I've ever seen!

I have a feeling that will not be our last trip to the e/r with this one though--she's a real wild one (just when I thought I had it kind of figured out!)

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2007 6:02 PM | Report abuse

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