Trust Your Gut

I knew from the first time that Gus threw up that something was seriously wrong with him. I knew it because I felt it in every part of my being. It wasn’t because I hate puking and go into a panic attack whenever someone near me pukes or that I was being dramatic. I felt it in my core that something was wrong.

It didn’t matter that everyone around me was telling me he was okay. That the flu is just really bad this year. The flu affects all kids differently. My pediatrician looked at me when I took him in the afternoon before he was hospitalized and said, “You seem really concerned about the flu.”

I explained to him that my child had barely been awake for the last 20 hours. And when I say barely, I mean barely. He had been lethargic and completely out of it from the moment he threw up. I explained to him that I knew my kid. I know what my kid acts like when he’s well and I know what he acts like when he’s sick. And this wasn’t Gus’s first go around with being really sick. I tried to let the doctor know that my son never quits moving. He is always on the go. And even when he’s sitting still, he’s singing to himself or carrying on a dialogue with the superheros that he’s coloring.  It doesn’t matter how sick he is. There was a weekend where he had multiple seizures throughout the weekend and was still bringing his shoes to me and motioning for the door. My kid was and always has been the anti-sleeper so the fact that he couldn’t stay awake for more than a few minutes at a time was alarming and disturbing.

Our pediatrician took blood and sent us home. I found myself in the middle of the night having a heated discussion with Yancy about how I knew something was seriously wrong with Gus and that we should take him to the emergency room. I was on the verge of hysteria. Yancy calmly explained to me that Dr. K was a pediatrician and he was a doctor who had worked with kids for over 30 years. He said- “There’s no way he would send us home with Gus if he thought there was something seriously wrong with him.”

Except that he did. Except that there was.

Dr. K called in the morning and said- “I’m looking at Gus’s lab results now. Hang up the phone and take him directly to Cedars. You’ll get there faster than the ambulance.”

I share this because I learned something very valuable from this. I knew something was seriously wrong with Gus and I let myself get talked out of it. Numerous times. I tried to tell myself that they were right and I was just being paranoid. Just being scared. But deep down. I knew.  And I couldn’t shake it. I will never make that mistake again. It could have been a fatal one.

I was talking with one of my dear friends the other day and she reminded me about a family we used to know who lost their toddler last year. We used to see them at the park all the time. We don’t see them anymore because their little boy is no longer with us. Last year, he got really sick. He got so sick that he died from the flu. This was after repeated trips to the pediatrician and repeated assurances that it was only the flu and he would be fine. They found him in his crib barely breathing and the rest ends in tragedy. Fact: The leading cause of death among kids under the age of 5 is the flu.

I share all of this to say: Trust your gut.

I mean it. I don’t tell people what to do very often. It just isn’t my style, but this is important. If you think something is wrong, don’t stop until you’re satisfied something isn’t. Who cares if the doctor thinks you’re being paranoid or overreacting? There’s nobody that knows your kid like you know your kid.

That mama bear instinct is loud. And if she roars- listen.



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19 Responses to Trust Your Gut

  1. Mama says:

    The very same thing happened to me last July. In the end, my son was helicoptered to a hospital 4 hours away and diagnosed with a rare condition that we are still trying to manage (which I now blog about, as it is so rare I hoped to help other newly diagnosed families cope).

    I wish I had listened to my gut that day, even though things worked out in the end. Believe me, I learned my lesson!

    I’m so sorry to hear little Gus had such a bad scare. Is he doing better now?

    Thanks for sharing this story. I hope other Mams’s learn from stories like these and never have to feel regret for not doing more, sooner.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, M. I’m going to check out your blog to learn more about your son’s disorder. Blogs from parents such as yourself are so important as far as providing both education and support to families with kids who have rare disorders. Gus is doing fine currently. He’s been through SO many tests and lots of specialists, but no explanation as to what happened to him, why, or if it will happen again. Honestly, the ambiguity is a bit hard, but I am certainly so grateful that is feeling healthy and completely back to his regular self. Off to read your blog now:)

  2. Leslie says:

    Truer words were never spoken, so glad that your little guy is tough and pulled through.

  3. Jamie says:

    It sounds like my son is a lot like Gus. He is very active even when he is sick. When he got strep this past October I knew something was different because he was very lethargic, though strep is nothing compared to what you went through. I am happy for your miracle.

  4. Spencer says:

    One of the tenets in family medicine is Trust Morher’s Intuition.

    We are trained to ask the question. What is your Mother’s Intution?

    In the last few years, I have heard from parents as well as primary and care- givers that this is now disregarded.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Spencer. I like that physicians used to be trained to ask that question, but I agree- it definitely seems to be disregarded more frequently than not.

      • Frances says:

        We are still trained to ask the question. And we are also trained to advise people (especially parents or caregivers of people who can’t speak for themselves) to trust their instincts & if they are really worried to go to an emergency room AND STAY THERE UNTIL YOU ARE SEEN, no matter how long the wait. Even if you’ve already seen your doctor and he or she has ordered tests, you don’t have to wait for the results before you take the next step.

        • Frances says:

          Oops, hit “post” too soon. I meant to say that I’m glad to hear your little one pulled through. Scary stuff.

  5. Marisa says:

    Thank you. I have not trusted my gut a few times, thinking the same thing. Maybe I’m paranoid or overreacting, but I wasn’t. I should have trusted my gut too. My situations were not as serious as yours, but you never know when they will be, and I will listen to my gut!

  6. Wow. So sorry to hear about Gus’ hospitalization. Glad he’s better now. Take care (and welcome back).

  7. Tara says:

    That sounds so scary! I am sorry that you and Gus went through that. Really… When it comes to these matters, what is the worst thing that could happen if you trust your instinct and it is wrong? You waste some time… You waste some money… You feel foolish? All pretty minor consequences compared to what could happen if you DON’T trust your instinct and it turns out you should have. So sorry for your friend’s loss. It’s hard to imagine anything worse than losing a child.

  8. Lala says:

    Thanks for this post. I was also made to feel paranoid when my 3 1/2 year old (now 5) son was really sick. His doctor kept telling me to give “it” time to run its course. When I asked what “it” was, he didn’t have an answer. I told the doctor that I felt something was really wrong. He did nothing. I also had to request the most routine tests including a strep test. I finally called a friend, desperate for someone to listen to me, I cried and told her something wasn’t right with my son, she told me to take action and not be bullied by the doctor or anyone else not to do anything. Follow my gut. So I called a random pediatrician in the area, explained my concerns and they had me come in right away. Within 5 minutes of being seen, we were sent to the ER. He was hospitalized for 7 days at our local hospital where he had surgery to drain a suspected infection outside of his lung. The surgery did nothing and we were transported to the Children’s Hospital. He had another surgery and after a grueling 9 day stay, we were cleared to go home. Needless to say, I dropped his original doctor, transferred to the doc that took immediate action upon seeing my son and learned to NEVER let anyone make me go against my gut again. Doctor’s often push concerns aside and in my case and yours, it could have been fatal. I am forever grateful to my friend that told me to follow my gut no matter what. And grateful for people like you that are willing to share their experiences and tell others to follow their intuition. Love to you and your sweet boy.

  9. C.J. says:

    I have never had this happen with my children but my mom did. When I was a child she constantly brought me to the doctor saying there was something wrong. That I slept too much, didn’t eat enough and didn’t have enough energy. The doctor kept telling her I was fine and tried to make her feel foolish. The doctor did not take her seriously, she was young too which probably didn’t help. Turns out she was right. I have a heart defect that I have had since birth. They found it when it caused a stoke when I was 32. If they had found it when I was a child they might have been able to prevent the stroke. My doctor now can’t believe no one found it before now especially since I was hospitalized twice for pnemonia before I was 2. He thinks someone should have heard it somewhere along the way. My mother was very angry when I had the stroke because no one listened to her when I was a child. Luckily I was young when I had it so I recovered fairly well. I can do most everything I need to do and the things I can’t do my husband does.

  10. Melissa says:

    Hoping your little guy is doing better, poor kiddo. We went through something with Serendipity when she was little too and unfortunatly same thing, the docs were wrong and we didn’t listen to ourselves. They kept telling us she was fine and we knew better and it nearly cost us our daughter; always listen to your insticts.

  11. Sarah says:

    I’m so glad your son is okay now. Thank you for encouraging parents to trust their guts. I’ve had three situations where I didn’t trust my gut. In all three cases, I was right the doctor was wrong. We have switched pediatricians since the third incident. The third problem could have landed us in the emergency room had I not trusted my gut and gotten a second opinion. You’re right. Always trust the mama bear roar within yourself!

  12. renee says:

    this is great advice! we just got home from a four week stay in the hospital due to a misdiagnosed appendectomy. they said it was the flu and we had to wait it out. good thing we insisted on being sent to another hospital. they figured it out in a few hours. we knew it was more than the flu. he was simply too sick and like you, we know how our child is when he is sick. this time it was different. always trust your gut!

  13. miriam says:

    how is gus doing now? any more info?

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