Being a mummy and a doctor

People often say to me that I'm really lucky as it must be so easy being a mummy and a doctor. Hmmm, I wish that were true and to some extent it does give me some advantages. I'm used to working nights, not that I like working nights, or am any less grumpy with no sleep, it's just I'd done it before.

I guess what people really mean is that I should know what to do with children. But sadly, they don't teach you parenting skills at medical school. Having worked with babies a lot before becoming a mummy, I wasn't scared that I'd break them. I knew how to pick them up and change nappies and stuff (which can be a bit daunting first time round). But that was about it.

I do know about children and illness. I know how to recognise a sick child and how to look after a sick child and what I think they should do if I take them to the doctor or hospital. But sometimes that can be a double edged sword. Medical problems in our family fall solely on my shoulders. There's no second opinion from my husband. The answer to "what do you think?" is invariably "I think you're the doctor".

And being a mum isn't like being a doctor. As a doctor, working in a hospital, I see sick children all the time. The children's parents have been worried enough to take them to the GP and the GP has been worried enough to send them to hospital. And that often takes time. With my children, I see them, think "Oh help, you've got a high fever and you can't walk, better get you to a doctor", then an hour later they're jumping around the waiting room. (Such is the nature of children, actually I see that quite a lot in hospital. Parents often feel embarrassed that their child is no longer ill. But better that than a sick child at home I always say.)

The other problem I have is that I know what they're going to do to my child, so it's almost as if I have to make the decision myself. My 3 year old has had enlarged lymph nodes for several weeks now. He's been to the doctor twice (firstly because of the lymph nodes which were very large and then because he had a 3 year check up.) On neither occasion were the doctors worried. But 3 weeks later and they're still there. The doctor said it was probably just a virus, but in the back of my mind there are more serious things lurking. I suspect that if I take him, they'll order blood tests (at least that's what I would do). So, it's as if I have to decide he has to have the blood test. Should I wait another week because I don't want to inflict a blood test on him?

Also, often when I go to the doctor, I go because I have a specific agenda or want a specific medicine for my children. But that doesn't mean I always get it, especially here in Spain where the health system is a bit different to the UK. It can be difficult to draw the line between being a parent and letting the doctor do their job and being a doctor yourself and disagreeing with your colleague.

Being a mummy and a doctor can make me feel quite neurotic at times. I sometimes envy parents who can just listen to their doctors without that "what about this or what about that?" They can just sit back and let the doctor take control. Perhaps it's got nothing to do with being a doctor and a mummy, perhaps I am just neurotic and an overqualified hypochondriac on behalf of my children? But that's part of being a mummy isn't it?