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I’m A Doctor But I’m Just A Normal Dad

Dougal Robertson-ATYD

Hey, my name is Doug and I am a doctor. I work as an Emergency Registrar at a couple of hospitals around Sydney and see kids from time to time. I’m also a dad with a 2.5year old daughter who has already got me wrapped around her little finger.

The path to medical training is a slog. A proper ball-tearer at times. I wouldn’t do it again. But I reckon it pales in comparison to parenting, yet I would happily do that several times over. Well, maybe a couple of times over. Go figure huh?

But seriously, I do think parenting is horrendously undersold – especially in the first few months. They were out of control.

There were times (mostly at around 3 am, sitting on the couch with a crying baby) when I sometimes wondered if parenting is this big joke that each generation just stitched up the next generation with – like the joke that never ends. The sleepless nights, intrusion into your social life, cancelled travel plans (Tomorrowland with a newborn is difficult I imagine) and where did all my disposable income go??

Now, I don’t feel like this is an out-of-the-norm feeling when it comes to transitioning from the freedom of non-dependant living to parenthood. Sure, parenting is rewarding but websites like All The Young Dads wouldn’t need to exist if parenting was always fun, easy and didn’t contain hang-ups.

One part of parenting which is challenging and scary is having a sick child. It’s horrendous. Not only is your newly formulated dinner, bath, bedtime, several uninterrupted hours of sleep routine in tatters but you’re also concerned for the health of your child – are they going to be ok? Is it possible for them to literally drown in the amount of snot they are producing? How can I get them to have more fluids when they are constantly vomiting? Or, in the case of accidents, could they have given themselves brain damage after rolling off the bed?

All these questions eventually lead to a final conundrum – do I need to take my child to the hospital, or can we just wait this out at home?

Obviously going to the hospital, at 9 pm, on a Friday night is an inconvenience, to say the least. No parking, crowded waiting room, at least 3-4 hours in the Emergency Department before hopefully being discharged home at 1 or 2 am is torture.
But imagine if looking after sick people was your job! Surely, that would make one part of parenting a little bit easier?
“Oh no! It’s 11 pm and Child X has got that barking cough again! Lucky I’ve got access to this sweet drug that I know how to administer responsibly that is going to make Child X better and therefore I can also get a full night’s sleep!”

Nope.

There is no secret drug.

There are no medical secrets to treating children quickly and easily at home.

When my daughter has been unwell, fallen off something or has been strangely unsettled, I’m just a normal dad. I do all the things a regular dad would do in those situations, and if/when they fail or I get too concerned, I seek medical help.

My dealings with an exorcist-esque vomiting baby have been as fucked up as yours.

I use paracetamol as my first-line treatment for pretty much everything. I love Vicks and humidifiers for blocked noses even though it most probably does not change the course of the illness.

The only advice I can offer you as a doctor and as a dad is this – use common sense, trust your intuition if you think your child is getting more unwell and don’t be afraid to seek medical opinion in the form of your GP in the first instance or the Emergency Department if it’s an emergency or after hours.

And get some paracetamol in your cupboard!

Here are some evidence-based cheat sheets though, available to all on the internet.
Peruse at your leisure…

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