Monday, January 18, 2010

Why I Am Smarter Than the Average Doctor, Thanks to Children's Literature

What do the following children's books have in common?

  • All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
  • The Little House novels by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • The Moffats by Eleanor Estes
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
  1. They were all written at least sixty years ago.
  2. They all contain characters who came down with that dreaded Victorian malady: scarlet fever.
  3. They were the reason why I, having read them all, correctly diagnosed Sam with scarlet fever last week. The doctors were skeptical, but in the end a throat swab doesn't lie.
Now, in all fairness to modern doctors, it's not like scarlet fever gets a lot of airplay these days. Most of us have moved on to trendier, contemporary ailments like ebola, hanta, and flus both avian and swine-ish. But not over here at Chez 50 Books. Staunch traditionalists and hardcore nerds, we're firmly dedicated to reviving the classics. Last year, it was impetigo. Next year, we're thinking maybe the vapours? Or perhaps a wandering uterus? It's still up for debate. It's not too late to cast your vote!

So yeah, I don't hold a grudge against the doctors... though I have every right to, because they may not think I noticed it, but I was VERY aware of the "Uh-Oh, Crazy Mom Alert" looks and barely veiled eyerolling, even over the phone.

The good news: We caught the illness early, gave it a serious penicillin smackdown, and by watching Will vigilantly, were able to catch it even earlier with him, before he got all rashed up.

The bad news: No velveteen rabbits got a chance to become real.


tuckova said...

I think you are just being hysterical. I think Victorian doctors had a machine that can clear that up. Or no, wait: the other kind of hysterical, meaning funny (and all you can do with that is keep going as you are).

jagosaurus said...

I had scarlet fever when I was a kid, and I think my Mom also diagnosed based on literature. It was still barely fashionable in the early 1970s, so the doctor was more accommodating to her suggestions as I recall.

I would like to start a band and call it Wandering Uterus. Who's with me?

Tammy said...

Jagosaurus, only -- ONLY -- if we're an itinerant rockabilly band and I get to play the banjo.

CT Bon said...

Having a similar experience with a missed diagnosis, I couldn't agree more that you have to do your own research and advocate for yourself. Think of a family doctor as an overeducated, haughty, sensitive, prescription pad. It's not their fault. This doesn't apply to surgeons however. Surgeons are God. All hail the surgeon!

BabelBabe said...

i think you should start small, maybe with some mumps so you can sport that spotted kerchief tied round your head. and then maybe move onto a nice malaise a la Rose in Eight Cousins...just don't contract whatever killed Beth.

jagosaurus said...

Itinerant rockabilly band it is. I look forward to your magical banjo workings.

Karen said...

Well done! Next up: grippe, ague, consumption, and typhus.

Carrie said...

So the fact that I've never read, or wanted to read, any of these books means that I am going to die?

I knew it!

Tammy said...

All I'm going to say, Carrie, is that if you ever want to make something of yourself as a hypochondriac, you're going to have to read a lot more older kiddie lit. Kids were always getting sick from cool-sounding ailments back then. Our newfangled vaccinations have ruined all that.

Sycorax Pine said...

...because, really, what in life CAN'T be explained with a wandering uterus?

I am glad to know that children's literature serves such a concrete, prophylactic function in our lives!