Wednesday, January 22, 2014

RANT: Immunizations, Tylenol, and what I learned the hard way

Yesterday I drug Mark with me to Stella's 2 month check-up.  She was due to receive 6 immunizations and to be honest I was scared of how she'd handle them.  I'd heard horror stories from my friends and I thought it would help to have Daddy along.  One to hold baby girl and one to distract her...hey, if he could get away from work for an hour, why not?

Much to our surprise, Stella's doctor no longer gives immunizations.  This begins my rant, which might touch a few nerves, but hey we're all entitled to our opinions (I just make sure mine are based on fact).  The office no longer gives them because people without insurance kept getting them and not paying, so the office could no longer cover the cost.  We were told to check with the health department.  BUT...the health department receives only so many vaccinations per year, which are supposed to be for those who don't have insurance.  So we were advised to lie and say we don't have insurance.  I called my insurance anyway and vaccinations are covered 100% on our plan.  So where are people with good insurance supposed to go to vaccinate their kids?  We are getting punished for working (yes, being a stay at home mom is work if you are frugal and stretch your budget) and having good insurance!  That is CRAP!  Yet people who don't work, and don't have insurance, are getting them for FREE, no questions asked.  (Now, there are some people who work but don't have adequate insurance, I realize that...that is who the health department should be helping, not the lazy people who can't afford care for their kids yet have the latest phone and designer purse, and can't find time to work yet manage to have enough time to go our partying and shopping)  Ugg!

The first clinic I called said they didn't even have all the vaccinations and couldn't help me, so I called a different clinic and they accepted insurance.  Good!  BUT...it was an hour away.  Mark and I took Stella this morning in the freezing cold to be loaded up with medicine.  SIDENOTE:  I know it might sound contradictory that I am all about clean living yet choose to vaccinate my daughter.  Personally, I believe there are chemicals everywhere...from the food you eat, to the Scentsy you burn, to the air you breathe.  You can't avoid them completely, so why choose this as one of the cutbacks?  I did lots of research and couldn't find any proven links between immunizations and illnesses/conditions in children.  In my opinion, the benefits outweigh the risks.  There is risk with every food, every medicine, every venture out of your house.  You have to look at the big picture, and I choose not to put my daughter at risk for deadly diseases because of an unfounded fear of what might happen if I vaccinate her.  Not to mention all the other children I'd be putting at risk because Stella isn't vaccinated. 

So Stella got 1 vaccine orally and 3 as shots in her legs.  I would suggest not to feed your child right before the appointment because then they will spit out the oral vaccine, but if they're too hungry they might be too fussy.  Stella eats every 3 hours so we fed her before we left (remember we had an hour drive), so she was right between feedings when we got into the office.  It worked perfectly, she swallowed the vaccine without spitting any out.  And then came the shots.  She cried hysterically, real tears spilling down her cheeks.  This, of course, made me cry too.  Poor baby girl.  After dressing her and heading out she stopped crying!  Not too painful, overall she did great!

And now begins rant #2...the Tylenol dilemma.  My doctor's office gave me a dosage chart, but it was completely outdated.  Tylenol is now in 160mg per 5mL, where it used to be 80mg per 0.8ml.  I called the doctors office before we left because I wanted to give Stella a dose to prevent discomfort, and the nurse told me to give her half a dropper after I specified I was using Infant Tylenol and why I was confused (the chart didn't match the new Tylenol concentration).  This still didn't add up to me, so I decided just to skip it altogether.  Better her slightly uncomfortable than overdosed on meds.  Turns out I made the right choice.  After her shots, Mark and I asked the clinic nurse how much to give her.  We showed her the chart we had, and she said we couldn't go by it because it was outdated.  She gave us the current chart (you can find it here ).  Well, had I listened to the first nurse, half of that Tylenol dropper would have been TWICE the dosage she should have received.  Nothing like your baby's nurse telling you to overdose your child!  Needless to say, we will be reporting this to Stella's doctor.  When we got home I called 2 pharmacies just to go over the dosage again because we still were a little confused. They confirmed the current chart given to us by the clinic.  (The advised dose they gave us for Stella-the 6-11 lbs, 0-3 month category on the chart-was 1.25mL).  So after much anxiety we finally have the right chart in our hands.  I keep a copy in the medicine drawer by the Tylenol and one in the diaper bag, where I keep an additional bottle of Infant's Tylenol.  I hope this saves someone else the confusion and concern we experienced today.

And finally, what I learned the hard way.  I have called our insurance one billion times in the past year.  I started before we even tried to get pregnant.  I wanted to make sure we had the right benefits and good coverage before we got pregnant and it was considered a "pre-existing condition".  I actually read our insurance benefits package from Mark's work.  I just like to understand what's going on.  Yet somehow it's not enough and they still manage to confuse you.  When I called to check our coverage for immunizations, I was told it was covered 100%, no co-pay.  Well I had a funny feeling on the way home, so I called back.  And guess what?  Always trust your gut.  It was covered 100% at the local health department but not at the one we drove to.  It's not in our PPO.  Boy was I mad (to put it nicely).  Since we met our deductible when Stella was born, we won't have to pay full price, only 50%, but it's still going to add up since she had so many.  Too bad we have insurance and values or we would have gotten them for free!  So please learn from me and ask before you go ANYWHERE for health care:  is it PPO?  Because apparently being covered in the plan and other health departments isn't enough.

This is completely unrelated to today's ridiculous chain of events, but I wanted to share one more thing we've learned the hard way.  We give Stella a bath about every night, she's very clean.  I wash in all the folds of skin, her hair, bla bla bla.  But apparently I wasn't lifting her head up high enough to get in the crack of her neck, because she has developed a NASTY rash there.  It's so red, and formula or milk can collect there if you don't tip her head back and wipe it after feedings.  It looks like we've been choking her.  I feel just awful.  We showed it to the doctor yesterday and he said just keep it clean and dry.  So make sure you tip your baby's head back after each feeding and wipe any milk that may have trickled down there.  Do the same during baths, and dry it with a towel.  We're using powder to further dry it out.  Another thing I check for occasionally-hair wrapped around her fingers or toes.  My sister heard a horror story about a baby who got a hair wrapped around his toe and cut off all circulation to it.  Sounds crazy, but it can happen!  Worth a quick 2-second check when changing diapers! 

I do apologize for the rant.  I hate when people do that on Facebook.  I just want to help other people learn from our mistakes, and I figure you are reading my blog by choice so it's OK, whereas on Facebook people log on to keep up with family and friends-cute pictures and happenings in their lives-not their personal opinion on everything under the sun.  But that's just me.

So after this crazy day Stella is handling her shots pretty well.  She's a little fussy and I've held her a lot more than normal this afternoon (nothing wrong with that!), but otherwise she's doing OK.  I'm finally going to sneak in a shower and glass of wine to wind down, maybe even a movie who knows!  Best of luck to all mommies and daddies during their immunization journey (and in the future we will find a clinic IN our PPO so we can get the rest of her vaccinations for free like we are entitled to!)

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