22 March 2011

Over medicating

Our family was struck down by common illnesses that seemed to drag on for the better parts of January and February. The four year old would catch a cold, pass it to his big sister, then the baby would begin to sniffle a bit and my husband would return home from a business trip with some exotic stomach bug. After weeks of fighting off a virus, I too was taken down. Then, the whole cycle would repeat, repeat, repeat. We ran through our fair share of cough drops and tissues. The thermometer and hot water bottle never made it back into their storage places. Special 'sick day' toys were on heavy rotation. And, our weekly budget took a hit as the kid's movie DVD buying increased.

My son had the worst of all the illnesses, repeatedly getting slammed with fevers and flu and coughs and colds. So, inevitably we trudged our way through the heat in cabs and skytrains and traffic and went to the hospital.* Each time, laughing a bit upon exiting as I carried a small brown bag, that looked more like a gift bag, filled with various syrups and elixirs and pills. And, of course a big stack of dosing cups and syringes, thrown in like party favors. A swingy little bag of meds has always accompanied us, upon exit, no matter what we went in for in the first place. I smile each time, knowing that I just paid for a bag of stuff that I won't use. But somehow I feel okay about it since I didn't quite understand it was being prescribed in the first place.

Our appointments go a bit something like this:
Walk into the doctor's office (cleverly disguised as a cute little kid-friendly house), sit nervous patient in a swivel chair, tell doctor symptoms, doctor takes a quick look and describes the patient's problem, thank yous in Thai and English, exit house (aka doctor's office) and sit on a park bench in the faux indoor courtyard created outside of the faux house, a few minutes pass, paperwork is brought by a nurse, more thank yous in Thai and English, kids (aka patients) begin to relax and run to the massively overstimulating play area featuring slides, coloring stations, video games, television shows and other people's sick kids, proceed to the cashier, hand over some Thai baht, proceed to the pharmacy (because you always proceed to the pharmacy), receive a bag of meds that you apparently just paid for, find your kids in the huge play structure, squirt some hand sanitizer on everyone, be thankful that your kids put up with the doctor and go out to lunch to celebrate (aka pump yourself full of coffee at the Starbucks downstairs), hop a cab, arrive home, sort through meds, stack new dosing cups neatly in already established skyscraper rivaling pile in cupboard.

In any event, a trip to the hospital results in me continuing my Starbucks addiction and a huge stack of dosing cups that need to be tamed. This weekend I took advantage of that stack and used them to entertain my six and four year olds. Look closely! Those little 'smoothies' that the kids' stuffed animals and alien invaders are sipping on? Med dosing cups filled with a pom pom to create the 'flavor' and topped with seed bead 'sprinkles.' We rolled up a straw, made a personal label and these guys are now living the high life sipping on their custom ordered smoothies. (And, the kids actually got some use out of the dosing cups and had a pretty fantastic time doing it. A bit of creative play makes for some good medicine if you ask me.)

*Three years ago, while living in the States, I'd say we were going to the doctor. Now, it's become common form to say "I'm off to the hospital." (Fear not, though, I still maintain my American speech patterns of inserting a 'the' prior to the word hospital. Most other expats I know have adapted the international verbiage of "I'm off to hospital!")

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