The Babycrat doesn't fall sick often, but when he does, instead of taking him to the doctor, I try to will him to get well on his own (plus swill him with over-the-counter medication). This is because taking him to his pediatrician is one of those things that often fill me with a mix of inner rage, despair and a general loss of will to live.
This is largely due to the perpetually high number of patients at his pediatrician, which does not take appointments or allow preregistration by phone. That means I have to be present physically to register him, and then wait for our turn, which will come round in oh, maybe 24 hours. (Ok I exaggerate. It doesn't take that long. It takes about 15 hours only).
The clinic is not near enough to my house for me to register, and then go home, so staying put and waiting is my only option.
I would have brought him elsewhere, but I hear the wait is as bad at most pediatric clinics. I did once take him to a pd whose waiting room was empty. And then I found out why - I was charged $126 for a diagnosis of a mild viral infection -
one that was already on its way out when we consulted him. I have only
two kidneys and a pair of corneas to sell. I can't be paying such rates
every time the Babycrat comes down with something or other.
But the last time he fell sick, his flu couldn't be ignored away and, instead, mounted a new line of attack and caused green snot to run out of his nose incessantly.
With a heavy heart, I decided that it was time to see the doctor.
To beat the queue, I strategised and decided my best line of action would be go to the clinic a little before opening hours, and loiter at its doors so that I can rush in and register the moment it opens.
But when I reached the clinic a good half hour before it opened, I found approximately half of Singapore's proposed 6.9 million population already thronging outside the clinic. No one was queuing up in any fashion and it appeared that whoever was standing closest to the door when it opened got first dibs at registration.
I tried to squeeze as close to the front door as I could civilly manage, and then guarded my spot zealously, taking a mental note of the people who were already there and making sure that people who arrived after me did not squeeze in front of me and cut my queue.
This was stressful. As my eyes busily scanned the horizon for would-be queue cutters, my heart pounded furiously, and my palms turned clammy. And at the same time, I had to keep an eye on the Babycrat, who was running all over the place because he was apparently not sick enough to stay still.
And when I saw the receptionist come to the door from the inside and start to unlock it, I hyperventilated a little.
As she slowly turned the key, I furtively eyed people on my right and on my left. My leg muscles tensed up, getting ready to dash. And then it was all systems go. The moment the doors opened, I did a controlled fast walk towards the registration counter while trying to look like I was not rushing because I didn't want to look kiasu.
I heaved a sigh of relief only when I finally registered the Babycrat. But even then, I could not sit back and relax. For my son immediately made a beeline for the merry-go-round the doctor placed on his premises and started jumping on it, making the other children already on it bounce up and down like rubber balls.
Personally, I feel being shaken up a bit does no harm to kids. But not every parent shares my philosophy of tough love, especially parents whose kids are being shaken up by mine. Fearing that I would get scolded by a parent any moment, I saw the need to put on an act and reprimand the Babycrat.
So I dragged him off the merry-go-round and told him loudly: "Don't bully other children!". So the Babycrat ran onto a mini-slide, the other piece of playground equipment in the clinic, climbing up the slide the wrong way, not only blocking the way of the other kids who are trying to use it the proper way, but sometimes bashing his way through them.
I carried him off the slide and told him loudly: "Stop it! Play properly!"
So the Babycrat jumped onto the merry-go-round again. I offered him a bag of toys that I brought to keep him occupied, but he rejected them. Why play with your own toys when you can terrorise other children?
In desperation, I broke my own rule of not using the iPhone to entertain the Babycrat. (Although I do break this rule on a fairly regular basis. What? I made the rules, I can break them!) YouTube always does the trick. He finally settled down quietly for the remaining wait while I slumped in one corner, my life almost fully drained out of me.
After finally getting home from the doctor's comes the second part of my struggle. Getting the Babycrat to take the medicine he has been prescribed. He does not like taking medicine, and he makes his opinion strongly known.
The Resident Bureaucrat and I are not able to get him to take his medicine in a calm, peaceable manner. Bribery doesn't work. Persuasion doesn't work. Reasoning doesn't work. Distracting him doesn't work.
So one person has to hold him down while the other tries to spoon the medicine into his mouth. Balancing a spoon filled to the brim with medicine while trying to aim it accurately into the mouth of a wriggling preschooler with the squirminess of two puppies does test your psycho-motor coordination a fair bit.
If, and when the medicine does make it to his mouth, he immediately spews it back right out, like a mini merlion.
Often, everyone involved has to change their clothes and maybe also wipe up the floor.
Besides not being able to gauge how much of the dosage he has actually received, we also have the problem of his liquid antibiotics running out before he can finish the course because of the extra we have to feed him to make up for what he spat out.
Squirting the medicine with a syringe into his mouth could work, except once, we shot the medicine too far back in his throat, which caused him to retch and throw up, which in turn gave us bad flashbacks for a while, so we have not dared to try that ever since.
(He has a cousin who takes Chinese medicine and without a fuss even. Dear God, why didn't I get a child like that?)
It has been suggested that we hide the medicine in his food. I have no idea how anyone pulls this off. I don't know what superpowers he possesses, but he can detect a nanogram of vegetable fibre hidden in his rice, rejecting that mouthful of food immediately. And besides, how does one hide a teaspoon of lurid-coloured medicated syrup? Do I serve him pink or orange rice/milk/porridge to him and pray that he is looking elsewhere when I try to feed it to him?
And then one day, the heavens took pity on us and showed us the way. We accidentally discovered that letting him suck on a sweet before forcing the medicine into his mouth does the trick. This is because he is not willing to risk accidentally spitting out his sweet as well.
So, round one to us. Hooray.
But despite finding the trick to getting him to swallow his meds, I rather he did not get sick at all because the kill-me-now-I-have-to-take-him-to-a-doctor problem remains unsolved. So I pray for good health, and that someone will point me to a good and reasonably-priced pediatrician without a wait.