Podcast Episode #11: Trust Your Gut
In this episode of Ask the Doulas, Alyssa talks with Cindy about the importance of trusting your gut instincts as a mom. You can also listen to this podcast on iTunes.
Alyssa: Hi, welcome to Ask the Doulas. I am Alyssa, co-owner and postpartum doula at Gold Coast Doulas. Today’s show is sponsored by Cindy’s Suds, and we have Cindy here again with us today. Hi, Cindy!
Cindy: Hey, how are you?
Alyssa: Good. We are talking about trusting your gut instinct as a mom.
Alyssa: And you recently had an incident with your son that I wanted to ask you about and to share with everybody – you found out he had Lyme disease?
Alyssa: And so tell me how that started and how you as a mom figured that out before the medical professionals did. Well, you are a medical professional.
Cindy: I am, yes. I’m a physician assistant by trade, but let’s take that off the table. Completely take off the fact that I’m a PA. So I’ve got three kids. This is my middle son. He is going to be 16 this month. I’ve got a boy, girl, girl. No, oh my gosh, I’ve got girl, boy, boy. Holy cow! Sorry, children! My two boys are very active outdoors. They hunt; they’re outside all the time; they camp. So that’s just kind of our lifestyle. We live on acreage, so they’re constantly outside. So my almost-16-year-old this past summer was camping with some friends, and when he came back, he was like, “Oh yeah, I had a tick on me.” I’m like, “Seriously? That’s great.”
Alyssa: At least he told you.
Cindy: Right, right. So that was April or May, I want to say, and didn’t think anything of it. Nothing happened. So then in June, he goes on another camping trip, and another situation where he’s with other families, other kids; has a blast, gone for the weekend. He comes home, and about three days later, just very, very lethargic, very achy, full-body aches, high fever. And so his fever was about 104, had gotten up to 104.5. Really, really high, and just, you know, my joints ache, you know, I’m so exhausted, sleeping all the time. And this is an almost 16-year-old; very out of character, obviously. So I’m starting to think, “Well, gosh, what has changed? What’s different? He just got back from camping. You know, I wonder if there’s anything – what if he got bit by something?” Mosquito, tick, you know. So I did a brief skin survey, just meaning that I’m kind of looking at his skin; is there anything out of place, anything weird? And on his back, there was a little, teeny, tiny bite mark that I’m like – for whatever reason, it’s just that mom-reason where I’m like, “That. I need to watch that.” So I took a picture of it, and then throughout the next 24 hours, really, I was just kind of monitoring that little spot, and it was growing, and it was growing, and I’m like, “Holy cow, this looks like the bullseye mark that they are describing when somebody has Lyme disease.”
Alyssa: So the tick wasn’t in there?
Alyssa: It was just his bite mark that you could see?
Cindy: Right, right, but he had been camping for like, three days, and so, you know, I guess at some point during that time, he had gotten bit by a tick at that spot, but no tick; no physical tick there afterwards. But granted, two months prior, he was like, “Oh yeah, I had a tick on me.” So I think maybe I was even a little higher alert because of that. But honestly, it was just this gut instinct as a mom that I knew something was wrong; I knew something – it wasn’t just minor. I knew it was something bigger, and I just knew that I had to kind of do the skin survey and look. It was just this feeling that I know there’s something going on, and then following up with that. So I watched the spot on his back slowly grow, and I was taking pictures to document it just so that I knew that yes, it is growing, and just kind of watching him. So his fever was still really high, 104. It would come down to about 101, 102 with Tylenol or Advil, but he – this is like a kid who’s the size of an adult, you know? At almost 16 and a boy, you’re big. But I’m like, he still is my kid; he still is my baby, and no matter how old they are, I think a mom is still so in tune with their child whether they’re a newborn or almost 16. So I brought him in to an urgent care facility, and was very, very frustrated because the provider that saw him said, “Oh, yeah, I don’t think it’s Lyme disease,” because I came in saying, “I think my son has Lyme disease. He was exposed because he was camping. He’s had a fever. He’s had the body aches.” I mean, I basically laid it out. Here’s Lyme disease on a platter. And she left the room, came back in and said, “Well, I just looked it up, and it doesn’t sound like he has Lyme disease. I think it’s a virus.”
Alyssa: “I just looked it up”?
Cindy: “I just looked it up.”
Alyssa: So basically, I just Googled Lyme disease for a minute.
Cindy: Yeah, I basically just Googled Lyme. And I was like, “What?” And she’s like, “No, and also that rash on his back is supposed to be greater than 10 centimeters if it’s truly Lyme disease. So you don’t have it. So he’s just got a virus; go home.” And I was like – I was just kind of dumbfounded, like, “Are you kidding?” So I went home, and my gut is churning. I’m like, there is no way. So instead of going back to an urgent care, I went to the emergency room, and the first provider that I saw there, too: “I think it’s a virus. I just don’t think that it’s Lyme disease, and I think you should send him home and give him fluids.” I’m like, “This is day six of him having a fever this high. No. There is something going on. He has Lyme disease. I need to get this treated.” So thankfully in the emergency room, before you can go, they have the attending physician come in and see you. The person that had come in first was a resident physician, so then the attending came. She walks in the door, and I actually knew her from when I worked in a local emergency room 20 years ago before I went to PA school, so I knew her. I knew that she was a smart cookie, and she had all these years of experience. So she walked in, looks at my son, looks at me, and says, “He has Lyme disease. We’re treating him right now.” And I burst into tears because – and I think she thought that I was crying because I’m just given this sentence, he has Lyme disease. I’m like –
Cindy: Finally! Somebody understands that what I am presenting to you, this is the truth! And discounting the fact that I’m a PA, I just feel like we as moms, you have to trust your gut because we were given this maternal instinct for a reason, and we were given this protection for our kids that is above and beyond anything that medicine can teach you or that anyone can teach you. It is this primal instinct that, if you feel like something is going on with your child, whether it’s a food allergy, or I think my child may fall somewhere on the autism spectrum, or whatever, you as a mom, you need to pursue that, and you need to be the biggest advocate for your child because that is what – it’s this amazing gift that we’re given, and you have to pursue that because it’s real and it is 100% just – it is so real. I just can’t even describe it.
Alyssa: I know. It’s almost tangible, but not. It’s like we know how this should feel, and when something feels wrong, our kid is not acting right, you just know.
Cindy: Yeah. And even when I was practicing as a PA, if a mom would come in and say there is something wrong, you throw out anything that you think the medical books are saying could be right or could be wrong because that mom knows her child. And I think the older that I’ve gotten, I’ve gotten so much more pro-advocacy for your child because I feel like nowadays, there are so many people who think they know what is best, but they don’t. I mean, you as a mom, you know what is best for your child hands-down, and so I really want to encourage moms that if they have a feeling, you have to believe in that feeling because that is very powerful. It’s just such a powerful – I can’t even describe what it would be.
Alyssa: Yeah, it’s almost like you were connected for so long that that doesn’t – just because there’s no umbilical cord there, there’s still this connection that’s kind of indescribable.
Cindy: It is, yeah. And whether they’re a newborn or 16, as a mom, you just know. And so I feel like that part of us that is prone to doubt, I would just encourage moms: don’t doubt because that is something that you were given; it’s a gift to know if there is something that you should pursue further for your child and to really trust it because I feel like there are so many times where maybe, especially as a young mom or a new mom, you might think, “Well, you know, so-and-so says that it should look this way or should go that way.” But if you’re feeling differently, I would really encourage that young mom to kind of internalize what she’s feeling and put it out there because she knows. I mean, you’re given this feeling for a reason, and it’s complete protection for your child.
Alyssa: Yeah. And I think, like, with you, that doesn’t mean that you distrust all medical care providers, but you need to find one that you do trust, and if that means going to three, then you go to three, or five, or you find one that you trust to listen to you and work with you instead of just discounting how you feel. And they are out there.
Cindy: Exactly, that is perfectly said. They are.
Alyssa: They’re out there; you just have to find them.
Cindy: Yeah. And I said that to someone just the other day. Someone said, you know, “I’m not sure if I’m going to like such-and-such provider.” You may not, but you know what, you will find that person who you connect with and who you really trust for the care of your family. And that’s with so many things in life, whether it’s a medical provider or whether it’s a school, even. You know, you may say that this school – you really love the way that this school works with your child vs. this school, and I mean, it’s just got to be something that as a parent, you’re really connecting to and feeling like you can really give over your son or daughter’s little parts of their life to somebody that you trust that’s going to help shape them the way that you know is best.
Alyssa: Well, I tell clients to interview. Why wouldn’t you? The doctors, schools, dentists. This is a job for them.
Cindy: And I said that, too. I was just telling somebody. You have to interview because there are so many people out there. You’ve got to connect with your person and your group of people, your little tribe; you’ve got to connect with them, so you interview every little thing. And it may seem silly, you know. I did three or four interviews for preschool for my daughter, which seems so silly, but you know, it’s not, because you want to feel like who you’re entrusting your child to has the same values and beliefs and goals and good juju, whatever it is; you want that to mesh with yours. And so interviewing is by far the best thing that you could so that you feel a connection.
Alyssa: And you’ll know right away.
Alyssa: When I was pregnant, I was interviewing pediatricians, and I would just sit down and, you know, you can find online to ask them these questions. I had my own questions, and I knew instantly who I felt comfortable with. And I had no problem firing the other guys, even though those other guys were the ones everyone said is the best. “We love so-and-so. You have to go here; you have to go there.” So I interviewed them all, but I also found a couple others. And I chose who I felt comfortable with for me and my daughter.
Cindy: Exactly. And that is something that I love because like you just said, you can sit down with somebody. You will know instantly if you have connection or not. It’s not going to be like, oh, gee, I’m not sure.
Alyssa: You can’t tell by reading Google reviews.
Cindy: Uh-uh. Yeah, it’s got to be a face to face interview, and so I love that suggestion, and I completely, 100% support that too, is you go out and you interview so you feel like you’ve made this connection because that’s what it’s all about. You’ve got to really – you’re entrusting the care of your most precious person in your life, besides your spouse, to somebody. You want to make sure that they’re on the same page as you. And you also want to trust you gut because that is something that will not steer you wrong at all.
Alyssa: I agree. Awesome advice again.
Alyssa: We’re going to have you on again soon. If you have questions for Cindy, you can email her. What’s your email?
Alyssa: Awesome. Be sure to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, and give us a five-star review. We will talk to you soon.