So, our daughter has been complaining of a sore tummy off and on for the last few months. Not to me, of course. Or if she has, it hasn’t really been registering. There MAY have been a conversation that went like this.
A: “My tummy is sore, Daddy.”
Me: “Oh yeah? You think you’re going to be sick?”
A: “I don’t think so. It’s just sore.”
Me: “I’m sure you’re fine.”
People have sore tummies, right? I mean, life is tough all over, and it’s not like she’s been puking or anything, so I haven’t really worried about it.
My wife on the other hand, is much more, shall we say, “compassionate” and “understanding” and maybe even “caring” than the ol’ champ over here. She also believes that maybe there is a connection between our daughter’s tummy troubles and dairy products. So who knows? Is that called lactose intolerance? Nobody knows. BUT MAYBE. So she called our daughter’s doctor, famously documented here. So, as expected, she didn’t make much headway there. In fact, she didn’t even GET to the doctor. She was stonewalled by the secretary who said that there were NO OPENINGS for the rest of the year and that was that. Imagine a doctor that won’t see patients? It’s like a library that won’t let you borrow any books. It’s kind of dumb, and not great customer service, but since it doesn’t appear to be a life and death situation I didn’t think anything more of it.
Until last night when the phone rang in the middle of supper. I don’t usually pick it up, but for some reason I did, and it was someone looking for a “Maria”. I almost told her she had the wrong number and hung up, but then she introduced herself as our daughter’s doctor.
Huh. She actually called back. “I understand your wife is worried that your daughter might be lactose intolerant? Can I ask you a few questions about it?” Damn. I mean, I’m probably not the right person to be answering these detailed medical questions, but who else was there? My wife was at work, and my daughter was dangling off of me, using the “me on the phone” as an excuse to try to get cookies out of the pantry. Luckily a friend was over who could sort of wrangle my daughter out of the way so I could at least PRETEND I had been paying attention to my daughter’s situation.
These questions were really detailed and specific and I tried to answer them to the best of my ability, but I really didn’t know.
- When did the problem begin? “Early summer?” I said, more like a question seeking confirmation, rather than stating a simple fact.
- What are her symptoms? “A sore tummy?” Was there ever anything else? I don’t think so. I sort of thought that it was an attention-getting ploy, like the “one more glass of water” business at bedtime, but I had to show a unified front in front of this doctor, so I said no more.
- Did she have the flu at all over the summer? “Oh gosh, I don’t think so.” Summer flu? I would have remembered that, right? Is this doctor insane?
- What about diarrhea? “What about it?” I wanted to say, but instead I said, “Oh sure, she’s had some this past week, but that might be related to her being sick recently.”
- I thought you said she didn’t have the flu. “In SUMMER. I said in SUMMER. It’s not SUMMER NOW. It’s FALL, right?” (I didn’t say any of that but reader, I thought it.)
- Does she get constipated? “She must, right?” (Actually, apparently she doesn’t, I found out later when my wife got home. Damn it. I took a gamble but ended up giving the doctor false information. Who doesn’t get constipated SOMETIMES, right? I thought it was the safe answer).
- Did you notice if she got worse after having dairy, or any other type of food or drink? (What am I? A nutritionist? No, damn it. I didn’t notice anything. And further: I can’t tell you what she had to eat or drink today, let alone last week or last month.) My answer: “Oh jeez, no. I haven’t really noticed. Sorry.”
So anyway, after answering these questions (and more that I can’t really remember now), she talked for a bit about how it might be a dosing thing, where a little bit of milk might be okay, but if she drinks a ton of it, it’ll give her problems. She also said that it might not be the lactose, it might be the MILK PROTEIN. I don’t know what that means, but it sounds ominous. It sounded to me that lactose was something that was easy to manage, but this MILK PROTEIN business is another kettle of fish altogether.
The upshot out of all of this is that the doctor wants us to keep a “Poop Diary” (I think she actually called it this) for our daughter for 6 weeks and then come in and see her in early January. What does a poop diary involve, you ask? I’m so glad you asked this, you guys. I think we are supposed to write down every time our daughter complains of a tummy pain, and then we are supposed to remember what she ate that day AND ALSO RECORD her poops. I’m a little unclear if we are supposed to record her poops all the time or just when she has a tummy pain. The doctor was quite specific about the poop data. She wants not just frequency, but character. That is, is it runny, lumpy, pebbly (I am told that it is NEVER pebbly), normal, bloody, friendly, aggressive, indifferent, you name it. (Those last three may not be accurate).
This sounds like a lot of work, and something that may produce dubious results. I mean, we’re not going to record EVERY poop. I know this. Plus, asking our daughter about her poop every day will surely give her a complex. I raised these concerns with my wife, but she seems like she’s onboard with the process and may actually keep the January date. (I’m totally okay with cancelling it.)
So, I thought what if we tell our daughter that we are ALL keeping poop diaries. You know, as a family thing. Not weird, right? I mean, if she sees my wife and I engaging in a little #pooptalk then maybe she’ll be willing to divulge her own toilet experiences. I tried it out this morning. After I came back from my morning walk, I bounced into our bedroom where our daughter and my wife were still cuddling.
Me: “I just had a poop. And it was MARVELOUS.”
“Good to know. Why are you telling us?”
Me: “You know. The POOP DIARY!”
“I’m not telling you about my poop.”
Me: “Come on! We’ll all do it! It’ll be great.”
It was NOT great, apparently, so maybe the family poop diary is not going to happen after all. I don’t know. This is going to be a real challenge, if only because our daughter tends to draw on any blank page she can find, so if the poop diary gets anywhere near her, it’s going to be turned into flowers and kittens pretty quickly. But still, maybe if we can document the frequency of these tummy troubles and see if they align with a type of food, maybe we can make some adjustments, rather than just relying on anecdotal evidence. I don’t know. At least the doctor called back, even though she got our names wrong.