On-The-Job Training confers an honorary medical degree to mamas and papas by the time their offspring are eighteen months old.  While college degrees are certainly useful, I’ve found the Parental MD has been critical when it comes to day to day life.

You guys know what I’m talking about.  Parenting Survival 101 teaches us to doctor as many injuries as possible at home, a performance that’s only convincing when delivered with 100% confidence in our MD authority.  We simply can’t run to the real doctors for every little thing; we’d end up spending roughly 64.7 days annually in Urgent Care waiting rooms that way.

So we quickly learn the difference between a slight temperature and a dangerously high one. Which boo boos simply need a kiss and Bandaid and which require soap and water.  When a tummy ache came from too much candy at grandma’s and when it signals the flu’s arrival in my home.  (Ugh.)

Every once in a while, though, there’s a glitch in the Parental MD system…kinks that lead to major Mom Of The Year moments.

We hit one of those last month, a glitch so big that “oops, my bad” doesn’t really cover it.

Bear woke up one Saturday, went with BrightSide to get biscuits (mmmm…biscuits), and told him that her knee hurt.  I honestly don’t remember if she told me, too, but I know what I would have said if she did – oh, it’s just growing pains, it’ll work itself out.  No worries.

A week or so later Bear mentioned it to me, saying her knee was really bothering her.  I, in all my MD glory, told her to take it easy for a while – aka no trampolines – and let me know how things went.  Then I sent her on her merry way.

The week after school let out Bear had – wait for it – basketball camp.  Yep, basketball camp.  And I actually encouraged her to go.  I mean, she’d been looking forward to it all spring, I just couldn’t see grounding her to the couch instead.  Bear’s knee ached after the first day, so Mom MD prescribed ice and elevation.  She wore a brace the second day, but by the third Bear had to sit out the scrimmage.  Me?  I was now preaching rest, ice, and elevation.  Each evening found her lying on the couch, knee propped up on pillows, a bag of frozen peas attacking the swelling.

Things came to a head while we were at the summer regional.  Bear’s limp became more pronounced and she complained frequently of pain.  I knew my honorary medical degree instinct had failed me when Bear looked me straight in the eye and simply said, “Mom, I really want to go see someone when we get home.”


We arrived home on Sunday and I called to get Bear in to see an orthopedic specialist ASAP.  Of course that week was also the kids’ time at nature camp – four days filled with hiking and creek walking on an 165 acre earth sanctuary.  (You can read about Timberlake Farm here.)  Because that’s exactly what you should be sending your kid to do all day with crippling knee pain. Sheesh.  But we just kept on keeping on because, well, that’s what we do.

By now Bear’s been through an orthopedic evaluation, x-rays, and an MRI.  The good news is that her knee is structurally sound, so she’s moving on to physical therapy to eliminate the pain she’s experiencing.  Bear wasn’t thrilled with this outcome at first; she was hoping for a quick fix at the doctor’s office that would magically cure her knee.  She got on board with the plan, though, once I explained that other options included surgery or injections.  Whatever it takes, right?

There aren’t words to describe my feelings of inadequacy as I explained to the doctor that Bear had lived with this pain for almost a month.  That I’d sent her not just to basketball camp but to nature camp, too, basically offering ice as the best treatment plan available.

My Mom MD instincts have been spot on for years – fevers, injuries, muscle strains, general germiness – I’ve had a firm handle on what could be capably treated at home.  Boy, did I miss the boat on this one.