Besides keeping my practice youthful, the children I cared for kept me young as well. I hope you will enjoy a few stories about these “Little Ones” (Part 3) that are excerpted from my book, The Best Medicine: Tales of Humor and Hope from a Small-Town Doctor.
RON WAS A WIDOWER and a terrific father with three daughters all under the age of eight, and he cared for them as a single dad. His in- laws lived in town and assisted with raising the rambunctious girls, but even in the best of circumstances, being a single parent is one of the toughest jobs on earth.
He brought in his youngest, Sally, to see me with a small infected area on her cheek. Facial infections can become dangerous if they invade the tissues around the eye. From there, they can spread to the brain in a matter of hours. If a parent called in with a child with an eye or facial infection, we saw them immediately.
The little girl looked healthy other than the small area of cellulitis on her cheek. !ere was no boil or pimple to lance, and there was no infection around the eye, what we call periorbital cellulitis.
I pulled out a prescription pad. “Here’s an antibiotic. It’s one teaspoon three times a day for a week. You should see improvement in twenty- four hours. If not, or if there’s any worsening, call right away, okay?”
The next day it alarmed me to see Sally on my schedule. When I walked into the exam room, her cheek appeared much worse. There was still no boil or sign of infection in the periorbital tissues, but the cellulitis involved most of the cheek, which felt hot and looked fiery red.
“Any fever or change in activity or appetite?” I asked, exploring for any suggestion that it was spreading into her bloodstream.
“Nope. She’s acting normal. It’s just that it looks so much worse.”
“I agree.” I knew I didn’t need to ask, given how compliant a father he was, but I wanted to be sure. “Did you get the antibiotic?”
“Yes. I picked it up right after the visit with you yesterday. Administered three doses yesterday and one this morning. But it’s not working very well.”
I nodded in agreement. “I think we need to give an injection of an antibiotic and change to a stronger oral antibiotic.”
Ron nodded and added, “I agree. The one you prescribed is just too hard to use.”
I thought his statement was unusual. “In what way?”
“Well, the directions said one teaspoon three times a day. So I pour the liquid into a teaspoon, but when I put it on the infection, it just runs off her face.”
I’m sure my eyes revealed my surprise. Ron looked stunned.
“Oh, my goodness!” he muttered. “It’s not a topical medicine, is it?”
“No, sir!” I answered as we both laughed. Fortunately, Sally was no worse for wear, and with the medicine administered correctly, she quickly recovered!
THESE STORIES ARE EXCERPTED, with the permission of Baker Publishing Group from/Revell, from my book, The Best Gift: Tales of a Small-Town Doctor Learning Life’s Greatest Lessons. You can learn more about the book or order a copy here.
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