I have had my share of doctor visits. From being diagnosed with IBS as a seven-year-old, and then kidney failure at 27, much of the first half of my existence included interactions with those dressed in white coats and scrubs. I am not bothered by bedpans, enemas, shots, Neti pots, catheters … you name it. However, there has been a change to how doctors and nurses do this one task, and I got to tell you I’m not a fan.

Spring has been hard on the Carter household. Allergies have gripped both me and my son’s throat and lungs to the point that each of us has developed an infection from them. I with an upper chest cold, and my son’s two bouts of croup, we each had to undergo the same questionable test with similar results: neither wants to go through it again.

I’m talking about the throat swab, or as I now call it the Q-Tip from hell. Up until this year, I only remember the strep test being a quick swab and that’s it. Nowadays it lasts far longer, and they jam that stick down your throat to the point of gagging. When I had it done, I was scolded because I backed away from the torture device and the doctor had to grab another stick and try again. I truly thought I was going to throw up all over her, and in hindsight, I should have.

When my son had to have it done I assumed it wouldn’t be as bad for him. Surely they wouldn’t put him through the same frustration due to his age, but I couldn’t be more wrong. The doctor needed my help to hold down my child while she shoved that stick down his throat, scrubbing up and down until I saw my son’s face turn beet red with the triggering of his gag reflex. And yet she continued, and when finally done said she hoped she got enough or we’d have to do it again.

Mr. Carter pointed his finger at her and said, “If you do that again, I’m going to leave for now,” which for my four-year-old pretty much means f*ck off.

I thought, honey that isn’t going to happen again and you better make good use of what you have. Fortunately for her, she had enough spit to conduct the strep test, which of course after all that turned out to be negative.

There has got to be a better way to test for strep throat. My son will likely never agree to get his throat cultured again, and I am not looking forward to being the one to bind my son for something that is uncomfortable for him and in my opinion unnecessary. If it’s spit they need, then let’s make it a fun spitting game or find another pleasurable way to find problems within the throat area.

The point is for us to want to take care of ourselves, but these experiences will only keep people from coming back. Healthcare is already an increasingly unpopular topic for adults, but by giving young children more reasons to be afraid of the doctor only makes the issue worse.

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