Why taking a medical history is important.

I’ve written before about the perils of being a pediatrician and mom. Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it leads me in the wrong direction.

Tonight I was trying to do a quick clean of the house while the kids were getting ready for bed. H. was at a church meeting and our days are pretty much spent at the pool these days so I just wanted to quickly wipe down the bathrooms and speed vacuum the floors in the few remaining minutes before bedtime. At the same time the kids were asking for help with various getting-ready-for-bed tasks. In the middle of this medium level chaos I saw David standing there with his hands down his pants.

Any mother of boys knows this is not an infrequent occurance. I told him to please take his hands out of his pants. He then said that it hurt. I asked him where and he pointed to roughly his groin.

All kinds of diagnoses immediately came rushing to my mind.  Inguinal hernia. Testicular torsion. Epididymitis. I started asking him questions while at the same time I pulled him towards me and began checking the area. It clearly hurt when I palpated his left inguinal area but he was being silly about the exam and I was getting frustrated. After a few minutes, I sternly said “David, I need you to take this seriously. When did it start hurting?”

“Since I hit it.”

“When did you hit it?”

“Just now, there,” and he pointed to the edge of the bathroom door.

I looked at him and he and I both dissolved in laughter. As did John who had been watching perplexed, probably since he already knew the right diagnosis. I told David that probably would have been good information to offer right away. He rightly pointed out that I hadn’t asked.

And that, my friends, is why a medical history is important.

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