As many of you parents probably already know, life can be very busy for us when tending to our children. My name is Dr. Kathy Helton-Skally and I’m radiologist here at Cincinnati Children’s. My husband and I have three small kids and the fall is the busiest time of the year for us. Since the season has begun, we’ve had all of our kids’ birthdays (in the last two months), as well as a wedding, multiple birthday parties, school parties, Halloween and, to top off the season, knee surgery for my husband. Like most busy families, trying to work and take care of the kids is difficult enough, but usually around this time of year we have some illnesses added into the familiar chaos.
My sweet son, who had strep throat three times over the summer, got sick about a week before his birthday. He was running high fevers so we took him to our doctor for the strep throat swab (which he calls the pointy thing, even though it is simply a cotton swab). His test was negative on two separate trips to the doctor, but a week and a half later, he still had a fever that required Tylenol and ibuprofen.
We decided to make our third trip to the doctor, who thought he may have a case of pneumonia. In response, we started him on amoxicillin. We were hopeful that this would knock out whatever was keeping our active boy down with a fever.
Late in the evening one night, he started coughing uncontrollably and then he vomited, which is never a good sign, so we decided it was time for a trip to the emergency room. The visit went pretty quick and the ER doctor said it was time for an x-ray of his chest. My son was confused, asking, “Does it hurt like the pointy thing?” I said, “No, there is no hurting, just pictures.”
We went for the x-ray, which ran smoothly and took only a few minutes. The x-ray technogist was very patient and nice, and even made an extra effort to get a Spiderman sticker for us. This x-ray showed that the pneumonia was not bad enough for my son to be admitted to the hospital, so the doctor added another antibiotic and we were able to get home by 5 am. It took another week, but by then my son was his active self, running through the house screaming again.
Although a night in the emergency room and x-ray images of my son’s chest are not the ideal situation, I was glad to finally get some answers. Radiology may not immediately solve the health issues that occur within our children’s lives, but that stressful evening, it was an important step to properly treat my son’s illness.
Contributed by Dr. Kathy Helton-Skally and edited by Tony Dandino (RT).
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