A Dad’s Guide To Healthcare

Guest blogger with no expertise or medical training of any kind! 

Time to come clean:

I defer all health-related decisions about the kids to my wife (Heather Joyce, MD). OK, full disclosure, she kinda manages my health too…and the dog’s. Let’s have a conversation about this:

You“But Ryan, aren’t you married to a pediatrician who is way smarter than you? It makes sense that she’s in charge of the health stuff”

Me“For sure. But how many dads out there are the family’s healthcare managers? You don’t actually have to answer, but seriously, how many? Huh? Speak Louder! I CAN’T HEAR YOU! ”

You: “Dude, back off.  You’re freakin’ me out.”

Me: [nodding somberly]. “I know, I know.  I’m just so passionate about avoiding responsibility that it just gets the best of me sometimes.”

The answer is very few.  Dads manage the satellite TV subscription and lawn maintenance, but generally have no clue which vaccinations are due during the next check-up. I don’t even know when the next check-up is supposed to be. Lets all agree that in this country Moms are the primary family healthcare managers. Ok, agreed. But is there anything wrong with that?

In corporate America I quickly learned that every task needs a single responsible party. That person can delegate parts of  the job, but ultimately their derriere is on the line.  It makes sense at work and I think it makes sense at home. It is particularly nice for me because I came blame Heather when something goes wrong.  But seriously, there are times when we disagree (thank goodness we’ve never dealt with anything major).  For example:

  • Is it better to deploy the dreaded nose sucker on the snotty/coughing boy at 3 am, or just rock him back to sleep?
  • Is it better to hammer the kids with Motrin and Benadryl for their winter colds, or just let them rest and get better naturally?
  • Should we risk anesthesia to get him ear tubes, or just keep dealing with the ear infections?

Based on Heather’s first post in this blog, you can guess that we (she) almost always choose to intervene. Here’s my guide for dads on how/when to be involved broken down in to 4 simple categories. Again, I have no expertise except for being a Dad of two boys with excessively runny noses.

1. Simple stuff  (e.g. ibuprofen and nose suckers). Answer: Let her decide. You can pitch in by physically restraining little Buster when it’s time to suck the snots out.

2. Minor Stuff with actual risks (e.g. surgery for tonsils or ear tubes) Answer: Google it (be wary of internet quacks), ask questions, offer your sincere opinion, then let her decide.

3. Major Stuff with actual risks (e.g. treatment plan for a serious illness like Kawasaki disease). Answer: Ask LOTS of questions, Google, get second opinions and decide together. Also, dads can start a personal health record on the internet; many hospitals and health plans offer free services online. Oh, What’s that you say? You’ve never heard of Kawasaki Disease? Like I said, Google it.

4. Hot-button stuff that the media and Hollywood make very confusing (e.g. Vaccinations). Answer: this guest blogger has some strong opinions on vaccinations, but you should defer to your resident physician bloggers for actual medical advice on these subjects.

Thanks for reading and get those nose suckers ready cause its RSV season!

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