“Mommy, would you come here?” calls my son.
As I trudge into his room, as I seem to do every night after he’s been tucked into bed, I speculate. If I were a gambler, I’d bet that a joint hurts. Which will it be tonight?
Sure enough, when I arrive in his room, I hear him declare, “My knee hurts.” I turn on the light, examine the joint in question, and ask the usual questions: When did it start hurting? Do you know the cause? Does anything make it better? Does anything make it worse? Does anything else hurt?
Tonight we’re lucky. It’s only one knee. Nothing out of the ordinary hurts, just the usual stuff. “The usual stuff” being his ankles and a headache, plus he doesn’t feel good. Sometimes it’s his back, often it’s both wrists or his heels. This kid has more aches and pains than his grandmothers.
It’s not stalling tactics; he isn’t trying to stay up later. It’s almost as if he can keep things in the background while he’s up and running around, but once he settles into bed, the pain starts screaming for attention.
Dejected, I wonder what to do. Is there really any point in taking him to see our family physician? I anticipate x-rays of the joint-du-joir, an expense that would yield no diagnosis of the problem. Next, a blood draw that might or might not show any abnormalities. Then, I expect some deliberating… is this nothing, or is this ERA… and eventually a referral to a pediatric rheumatologist. More poking and prodding and time spent. Eventually we’d get an NSAID prescription. I’m inclined to skip all the expensive, time-consuming diagnostic process and just give the kid OTC children’s ibuprofen.
Sometimes doctors give a medicine to see if it will help. I can certainly do that on my own without spending a couple thousand dollars. If the ibu works, problem solved. If it doesn’t help, then at least that provides more data for when I eventually do take him to the doctor.