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For new parents, a sick child can be terrifying

October 10, 2018 • read

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For new parents, a sick child can be terrifying

No matter how many stories you’ve heard, it’s hard to know what to do when you’re at home with a sick child. Know your options for getting through it.

For a new parent, a sick child can be terrifying. Imagine that it’s 2 am and your little one has woken up, crying, with a fever. Their little body is boiling hot, their skin is sweaty and feels as though it’s on fire. You take their temperature and give them medicine, the appropriate dose for their body weight. You snuggle them tightly and bring them into bed, trying to get them to fall asleep. Suddenly their breathing becomes raspy and they begin coughing, a horrible, hacking bark. You panic. They’ve never been sick with more than a fever, and you don’t know what to do.

Your doctor’s office is closed, and the last thing you need is to call the telehealth line, wait on hold for an hour, and then be told to go to the ER “just to be on the safe side.”

Maybe you’re lucky enough to live within an hour’s drive of a good children’s hospital, but even with that advantage, you know that at this late hour it’ll be hours before you’re seen by a doctor. The last thing a sick child needs is to be woken up, crammed into a car seat and driven downtown to wait in a brightly lit ER, surrounded by other crying children. You desperately want to speak with a doctor, but wonder if waiting in emerge will do more harm than good.

This was the situation Alex found herself in a few months ago. “My son is our first child, and neither my husband nor I knew what to do. When you hear your child’s breathing change like that, it’s terrifying. We obviously knew he had to see a doctor but I was nervous about putting him in the car seat with him sounding like that.”

“I’m so thankful we knew about Maple and could speak to a doctor in less than five minutes. After hearing and observing our son, the doctor diagnosed croup. Not only that, he was able to send a prescription to our closest 24-hour pharmacy. I was able to give my son the medicine he needed in under an hour and a half from the time he woke up with his illness! I’m certain that we would have been waiting in the ER for longer than that if we had driven him to the hospital.”

The Emergency Room

You can read a million of those “what no one tells you about being a new parent” lists, but none of them prepare you for the fear you can feel when it’s your child who is sick. ER wait times in Canada have been climbing over the past few years, and one out of three Canadians reports waiting in the ER for four hours or more to see a doctor. If you live in an urban centre, that’s bad enough, but if you live in a rural area, chances are you’re far enough from a hospital that the drive itself can add hours.

The Clinic

Even if you find yourself with a pressing medical issue during regular business hours, a walk-in clinic isn’t on any parents’ list of dream destinations. Clinics are full of sick people, and sick people are full of germs! Paediatrician’s offices are no exception, and frankly, given how unconcerned children are about spreading their germs, and how likely you are to find toys there for waiting patients, it’s likely they’re actually worse than adult clinics. Alex continues, “I once took my son to see his dermatologist at the children’s clinic, and he came down with the flu a few days later. I doubt it was a coincidence.”

The Internet

Lots of people choose to avoid seeing the doctor when they themselves are sick. As an adult, you can often tell if you have a cold or something more serious, but children can’t. And forget “googling” their symptoms; a cough and a fever can be something relatively benign, or symptoms of an endless parade of horrible diseases. For a parent with a sick child, trying to diagnose your little one this way is likely to make you feel much worse.

Maple provides access to care from literally anywhere. As a parent, having a tool like Maple at hand makes an experience like your child’s illness that much easier. 


Wondering how we can help? Our doctors provide advice, diagnoses and prescriptions for many illnesses including:

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