“Hey Mamma?” Ronan said from the back seat as I was driving him to his allergy shot. I had just dropped Tess and her friend off at CCD (she’s preparing for her First Communion) — we had an hour and ½ before we had to be back. “My ear hurts.”
“Really?” I sighed. “Maybe they can look at it when you get your shot.”
We discovered that Ronan has allergies when he was 10 months old. At the beginning of 3rd grade, he began shots because he’s pretty much allergic to everything he breathes: trees, grass, pets, pollen, dust, mold, pollution. For the first 5 months, I took him to Ceders once a week. Thankfully, those injections changed his life. We’ve graduated to the once a month plan, except for when he has to start a new vial of the antidote, which is now, so we’re back to once a week. I am also a patient of this allergy doc, but I’m only allergic to dust and wine (bummer!), so I don’t qualify for the shots.
“Ronan says he has an earache,” I told the nurse who administers the shots. For years my children have shoved their way into her room so she could stick Ronan in the arm.
“Oh yeah, it’s pink in there,” she peeked in with her tool. “And the eardrum is bulging.”
“Really?” I shook my head.
“You’re going to have to take him to the doctor.”
“But I’m at the doctor’s.”
“You need to take him to your pediatrician.”
“Are you telling me that Doctor Shots (too many of you would recognize his name) won’t look in Ronan’s ear?”
She was shuffling us out of her room. “No. You don’t have an appointment.”
“It’s four o’clock. I have to pick up my daughter. I can’t take him to a pediatrician now.” I pictured the traffic building outside.
“You can’t have an appointment and a shot on the same day.”
“Come on, Ronan,” I said, too irritated to stay. “I’ll have to give you Motrin,” I said while we waited for the elevator. “Ugh — you have a swim meet this weekend.” I shook my head.
“Oh no,” he cried, “I don’t want to miss the meet.”
“The nurse at Dr. Shots says Ronan has an ear infection,” I called my pediatrician.
“How far away are you now?” that nurse asked.
“A couple of miles. But I have to pick up my daughter at 5, all the way back past Hancock Park. Can she call in a prescription?”
But then I thought: what if he doesn’t have an ear infection? What if it’s swimmer’s ear? Which it certainly could have been – then he’d need drops. I had less than an hour to get to Tess.
Ear infection for a swim meet vs. child left out on the street.
I hit redial on my phone. “I’m bringing Ronan in.”
So at rush hour, I drove deeper into Beverly Hills.
“Come on,” I yelled at the slowpoke in front of me. “We’re in a hurry, buddy.”
I swerved around the left-turners on Little Santa Monica.
“I can’t believe how quickly we got here,” I said, as I careened into the parking lot.
But it didn’t matter – we had to wait on the germ-covered vinyl benches with the crying babies and toddlers.
“Do you have to touch everything?” I said to Ronan as he ran his hand up and down the plastic house.
I looked at my phone, as if that could help.
When the clock read 4:25 I said: “We have to leave in five minutes.” I pictured Tess on a dark sidewalk with her chum. “I made a mistake. I should have known better.”
“He’s on the way,” the nurse said at 4:30, but I couldn’t see the pediatrician in the hall.
“We can come back tomorrow.” I said to Ronan, “We will never get to Tess in time if we don’t leave now.”
Finally, the pediatrician arrived with Ronan’s chart.
“She said it was infected,” I explained, “But Dr. Shots wouldn’t look.”
The pediatrician was shocked. “That’s just – I don’t even want to say what that is,” he said.
“I know, can you believe that?”
Then he looked in Ronan’s ear. “Does it hurt when I pull on it?”
“Well, the ear drum looks normal.”
“She said it was pink.”
“It’s not pink. And if it’s swimmers ear, it would hurt when I pull.”
It took him all of 5 seconds to determine that Ronan was fine.
“Does it hurt now?” I asked Ronan.
“You know Mommy, miraculously, it does not.”
We RAN to our car, literally sprinted. We screeched out of the lot. It was 4:47 when we hit the road. When we were stopped at a light, I called Dr. Shots (hands free).
“Hi. I was just there with my son. You guys said he had an ear infection and Dr Shots wouldn’t see him. Well, I took him to the pediatrician, several miles into Beverly Hills, and he doesn’t have an ear infection. You should have helped us.”
“I agree with you one hundred percent, Mamma,” Ronan said from the back seat when I hung up.
“Shit,” I said to the traffic. “I didn’t curse on the phone, did I?” I asked Ronan.
I raced down Burton Way. It was 4:52. I couldn’t let it go. I had to call them back.
“I need Dr. Shots to call me. He should have looked in Ronan’s ear. This is what’s wrong with healthcare. I had to use all that gas, I had get the pediatrician involved. I mean, isn’t it your business to care about Ronan? He’s your patient, too.”
“It is. But insurance won’t pay for an appointment on the same day as a shot.”
“Are you serious? He was going to bill me for looking in Ronan’s ear. Would you please have him call me?”
She took down my number as I made a left turn on the 6th. 5:54pm.
“How is your ear?” I called back to Ronan.
“You know, you have to really think about your symptoms. I was worried. And it’s nothing. Which is good, but look at us now,” I said, pulling around some idiot who put on his turn signal 1 second before he blocked my lane.
It was 5pm. We experienced a second miracle — there was no traffic on 3rd . “It’s okay. We’re gonna make it.”
We were only 5 minutes late. Tess and her friend were running around the playground without a clue.
After I’d served the kids dinner, the phone rang. It was blocked. Had to be the MD.
“I’m upset about today,” I said.
“I know, I’m sorry.”
“You’ve been Ronan’s doctor for 10 years. You couldn’t just look in his ear? He didn’t even have an infection and I had to race all over town.”
“I know. You’re right. All I can do is apologize. I was wrong.”
“Well…. Okay.” I was geared up for more of a showdown. “Thank you for apologizing. I’m glad I reached my daughter on time and that I didn’t get in an accident speeding. In the end, it turned out okay. But you could have spared me from all of that.”
“I know. I don’t have a good excuse. All I can do is apologize.”
Maybe he knew, like I knew, that we are stuck together for several more years because of those shots. It would suck to not get along. And it seems he really agreed that he’d been totally lame. “Well, thanks for calling me back.”
“You’re welcome. And again, I’m sorry.”
Let me tell you, this is a good way to go if you’ve done something wrong. His sorry saved the day. As for the ear infection, I never heard about it again and Ronan had a great meet.