What a Local Pediatrician Wants To Tell You This Winter


Ah, how I love Luke Skywalker and Yoda, and most importantly, The Jedi Code: There is no emotion, there is peace. There is no ignorance, there is knowledge. There is no passion, there is serenity. There is no death, there is the Force.

DSC_0100The perhaps less than obvious takeaway from the Jedi Code? Wash Your Hands and Have Some Perspective.

The news is brimming with stories of Enterovirus D68, RSV, paralyzing polio-like myelitis, Ebola. I am a pediatrician, so do I worry about these things? Of course!

I have now had three parents ask me if I thought their child might have Ebola. My response? Ummmm… have you been to Africa? Their answer helps me weed out my differential diagnoses, and then I talk to them about perspective. I have to keep it in perspective – let’s be honest, mostly because I have so many other things that I, as a fellow parent, like to worry about.

Here’s an example. Many parents are panicking about Enterovirus D68, which is going around right now. What can you do to avoid it? There’s the washing the kertzhands thing, not touching your face thing, and not licking a kid’s nose thing. Those three fairly common-sense things will help a lot. But the most dangerous thing you’ve done today, I tell them, is drive to my office to see me. Aah, there. Perspective. It bites, right? Now my parents are wondering if they should have waited in that long line to have the fireman check the car seat after all; they’re thinking that posting a status update while driving was perhaps not a great idea (even if it was a picture of the cutest little boy holding a light saber); they’re thinking that the car seat mirror in the backseat will turn into a projectile if they get in an accident.

So now, with all my talk about perspective, I made them feel worse. Sigh.

Trust me: I, too, worry about all these viruses. As soon as I come home from work, I shed my clothes, my ring, my socks. My three-year-old finds this ritual HILARIOUS. He chases me to my bedroom while I beg, “Don’t hug me! Don’t touch me!” and he responds in laughter, “I touch you! I touch you!” He always wins, because I end up running blindly down the hallway, rushing to take my scrub top off, and I wonder: what if that baby I saw in the office today DID have Ebola, and I just brought it home?!

There’s only so much I can do. I don’t feel defeated, because planning for failure is not in the Jedi code. I must first plan for success. I am handed a weapon, turn it ablaze and begin yet another epic battle with Darth. After washing my hands and keeping perspective, of course.

PK149449About Our Guest Blogger:

Sara Kertz has lived in Arizona since 1999.  She is a full-time pediatrician, and a full-time mom, or at least it feels that way to her. With an office that has appointments 365 days a year, she cherishes her time home with her two young boys and her very supportive husband. She eats chocolate every day, and enjoys cooking and more eating. Sara loves the thought of hobbies, but can never pull one off. Aside from her family, she is most passionate about vaccines, child safety, and a healthier eating plan (which of course includes chocolate!)