A few weeks ago, I found these massive, light red bumps on my 6-year-old daughter’s torso after I picked her up from summer camp (which she loves). This particular evening, it was a regular bath time like every other night. When I began to dry her, I saw these red dots all over her body.
I am a germaphobe, let me say that, so when I saw these bumps, I refused to touch her. I’d never had chickenpox, and that’s what I thought it was. I prayed and hoped as she slept that first night, that she’d miraculously wake up the next day and those spots would be gone. That was not the case. She spent the night itching and scratching her skin so much that she began to bleed. The next day, I lotioned her up, because even though I am a germaphobe, I felt awful treating her like a barnacle.
To make a long (long) story short, she went into her pediatrician for a consult. He prescribed a seven-day medication protocol: Zyrtec in the morning, steroid cream on the bumps twice a day, and Benadryl at night. But I got a second opinion — and so should you. Here’s why.
We all want to trust our kids’ doctors, and we should. But we must also trust our parental intuition. It’s always there. On day two, we called our pediatrician’s emergency hotline and spoke with the doctor on call. She was very kind, very patient, and offered us a few different possibilities. I’d emailed them photos of the bumps so they could see how bad it was, how scary looking it was. Over the phone, she ruled out chickenpox – hallelujah! Those words gave me the courage to touch my kid without worrying I’d die.
As parents, we know when something is off with our kids. So, my wife made the appointment with her pediatrician – my wife, who is way more lax about germs than I am (she let this same kid eat an M&M off the sidewalk last weekend). She knew that our daughter needed to be seen.
We followed the doctor’s orders for as long as I could stomach doping our kid up with medications, trying to quell the scratching and make the bumps disappear, and to give us all back our sense of normalcy. But what he thought would work did not.
I lasted three days before I began calling as many pediatric allergists as I could. The medication was not working, and the bumps remained. I could not keep giving our kid medications on a hope and a prayer that something, someday would work. With each passing day, a new bump would appear. We tried to keep them covered. She felt awful that she walked around with these bumps all over her belly. One night she said, “I am the germ of the family,” and I wanted to cry.
I was grateful to have found a pediatric allergist within a week of her appointment with our pediatrician. As soon as she lifted her shirt in the allergists’ office, he said, “That’s Molluscum Contagiosum without a doubt. But let’s do an environmental allergy test on her just to check,” and that’s what we did. Sure enough, that was our official diagnosis.
What is Molluscum Contagiosum? It’s a viral infection in which lesions grow on the skin and appear anywhere on the body. It takes over a year to leave a person’s body. The pediatric allergist was extremely confident. He said, “She most definitely got this from camp, and she will get other things too. Camp is a breeding ground for things like this.” (His comprehensive take on this infection did not help my anxiety level at all.)
The virus is one spread from person to person after direct contact. It lives in inanimate objects like towels, sponges, clothing, pool equipment, and may spread by sharing swimming pools or towels near swimming pools with others. And therein lies the culprit. Our daughter’s best friend attends camp with her, and all of the girls hug one another and braid one another’s hair. They are constantly touching each other. In the end, we are not 100% sure where our kid picked this up, but trust the second opinion of the pediatric allergist.
We followed his advice: cover the open lesions with bandaids, don’t share towels or clothes, and watch for new lesions or bumps. We did that, and three weeks later, our kid still has the lesions or bumps on her body, and while she is no longer contagious (we think) her skin is improving. There is a slight discoloration on her torso, but she’s no longer crying herself to sleep because she itches so badly.
Second opinions should be taken into consideration when you think you need one. When the pediatrician you love (still) doesn’t quite know what’s happening with your kid, trying to find someone else to help doesn’t mean you love your pediatrician any less. Or that you don’t trust them. You do what you need to do for your kid. I think it’s important to keep updating your pediatrician along the way, especially if you’re normally happy with the care they give your kid.
My entire family loves our pediatrician. Science is great. There is a gray area in which some things fall into and can’t be accurately figured out. So, get a second opinion. Look at getting a second opinion as checking in with friends and getting their advice on a situation – two or three different people may bring two or three different opinions, and they can all be valuable. Please don’t carry one ounce of shame by seeking a second opinion – it’s your insurance, your kid, and your right. If your pediatrician gives you shit about it, you need a different pediatrician.
Trust your gut when it comes to your child. Listen to that internal voice that tells you to keep going, to keep working to get down to the heart of the matter. There is a peace of mind that is offered from a second opinion — even if it only serves to validate the first opinion you received.
Because when that second opinion helps your little one feel better, everyone will feel better.
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