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Suburban Island

Strep Test
Saturday, Feb. 08, 2003, 8:26 p.m.

Question: Where's Dr. Spock when you need him?

What I Learned: There are many variations on the princess theme.

Last Thursday turned out to be a lucky day for me. This is because despite the busy day and all its demands, it was my husband’s turn to take my daughter to the doctor’s office and this visit was going to be dicey because of the potential for a dreaded strep test to occur.

Everyone in our family knows that it would be better to:

  • Write a 5 page term paper on the canal systems of the United States,
  • Attend a family meeting where the topic under discussion is CHORES,
  • Get a cavity filled without benefit of Novocain,
  • Really have to clean your bedroom/the kitchen/the family room/the office,
  • Read The Scarlet Letter the day before the book report is due,
  • File 3 months worth of expense reports the night of the cutoff date
than to accompany my oldest child to the doctor’s office when a hint of a sore throat is involved.

You know the saying – gag me with a spoon? Well evidently, gag me with a tiny cotton swab is my daughter’s motto. There are some of us who just have more finely tuned gag reflexes. Maybe it is a twist on the Princess and the Pea concept. I believe it might be less difficult to deal with a picky princess whining about a pea under 19 mattresses than a kid with a sore throat whining about a cotton swab that looks suspiciously like a Q-Tip.

We all cringe when we hear that dire ring of metal against glass as the bottle opens and we see the single cotton swab appear in the hand of a member of the medical community unfortunate enough to be tasked with - what they will naively believe to be - a simple test procedure. Hit the dirt - incoming!

Yes, they have certainly met their match in my child and I can assure you that they will never be able to perform another strep test again without experiencing a slight tremor of the hand at the very thought that this might be another strep test militant pretending to be a nice kid in need of treatment for a simple sore throat. My daughter evidently outdid herself at this strep test, which might indeed go down in the annals of this particular medical practice group. I’m almost sorry I missed it – but only if I could have observed it from a safe distance; like through a pair of field binoculars.

This is a kid who as a toddler could clear out waiting rooms with her screams during annual physicals at shot time. This is a kid who still requires laughing gas to get a cavity filled. This is a kid who insists that all medicine be in liquid, or at least chewable form, as she refuses to swallow pills of any size.

Imagine one teenage girl with a sore throat creating such havoc regarding one small cotton swab that in the end, three able nurses were required to subdue the patient while dad held her hand so that the nice doctor could take a quick swipe at that nasty sore throat for a simple throat culture. I bet it was like putting his hand in a lion’s mouth. Oh, the drama of it. Luckily for them it was late in the day and the waiting room was pretty empty or I am sure it would have been bad for business on a permanent basis.

When my daughter arrived home she told me the story of the throat swab and then suggested I put it into my diary. I could see she took a certain amount of pride in her accomplishment – limited as it was. And I have to admit I do admire her determination – in spite of the reduction in popularity my family will suffer at the doctor’s office as a result.

This kid is a champ. There’s not a one of us who has even had a stick stuck in their mouth or the back of their throat swabbed with one of those stupid cotton-tipped swabs that isn’t saying – good job, kid.

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