Wednesday, December 20, 2006

More Manifesto-Inspired Thoughts

One of the great things about putting your thoughts out into the ether of the Internet is that you get feedback that is immediate and (usually) insightful. And so it has been with the manifesto effort. My originial manifesto contained one element that a few folks have taken issue with:
3. Outsource your anxiety. Pediatricians are trained to tell when a bout of the stomach flu is worth worrying about. Call them early and often, but trust 'em when they tell you it's OK. (And if you can't trust 'em, find someone that you can trust.) Same goes for teachers, guidance counselors, etc.
My intention was to let parents know that you can't live in perpetual worry; you have to retain the belief that the experts will let you know when something is awry. This, of course, has its limits, and there were plenty of comments and manifestos that suggested -- far from outsourcing anxiety -- parents ought to trust their gut and not remain the first, last and fiercest advocate for their kids whenever anything was amiss. To that point, I received this e-mail last week:
I wholeheartedly disagree with Item No. 3 posted below your request for information.

My sister passed away (before I was born) because my parents listened to the pediatrician. She was born with health complications, and when she was sick at one month, the pediatrician said they were booked and she would have to come the following day. A few hours later, she had passed. I am sure my parents regret to this day, not demanding that she be seen, or taking her to the ER.

I suppose for your hypocondriach readers, the advice in No. 3 is suitable. My advice (coming from a non-mother) would be to trust your instincts when dealing with a sick child, and do not always trust the pediatrician who is giving you advice over the phone, when your gut tells you otherwise. Better safe then sorry when dealing with the health of an infant.
Despite my initial don't-worry-be-happy stance, I find it hard to disagree with these sentiments. There is a balance, I'm sure, but this note is a reminder that a few false alarms are far preferable to even one serious but rationalized-away problem. I stand corrected.

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