“What fatal disease does he have now?” She was trying to be supportive, but I could hear my sister smirking through the telephone. In his short life, Micah had been diagnosed with several chronic diseases. This particular morning, I learned Micah was suffering from Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD). Look it up, it’s real! We had to pay a visit to Dr. Google after I noticed a sweet smell in his diapers. A quick and easy search on the internet gave me the MSUD diagnosis. Prognosis? Well, I never got that far. I usually picked up the phone to speak to my older sister. She would help me re-diagnose the problem. It was the same every time – anxious new mom with a case of hypochondria. When I was growing up, my parents had often called me a hypochondriac. I remember getting upset when they wouldn’t take me to see the pediatrician for a simple cold or headache. Even back then, my sister would help me rationalize the situation. She mostly rolled her eyes and told me to get over myself, and that proved effective for me as I sought the approval of my big sister.
My concerns about Micah weren’t completely unfounded. Shortly after he was born, we received news that Micah had an irregular reading from a routine blood screening. One of his hormone readings was slightly elevated. I was instructed to take him to the outpatient lab at the hospital where he had been delivered. I had to ask twice, but did they just instruct me to take my newborn to a lab? In the hospital? Where sick people go? This isn’t the same cushy wing where new moms have their own suite complete with robes and slippers. On this side of the building, there are germs. I know because the day we went, I saw several people with surgical masks on, waiting for their own blood screens. The five minutes that we sat in the waiting room seemed like forever. I was certain we were contracting all sorts of communicable diseases. I practically bathed in antibacterial hand soap on the way back to the car! The results came in three days later, and, once again, his hormone levels were irregular. This time, they were decreased. In order to obtain accurate results, we had to wait three weeks before we went for a re-screen.
Having to wait between screenings provided me with ample time to educate myself on all the potentially fatal illnesses that Micah could be suffering from. The internet is not lacking for websites that are set up to scare a practicing hypochondriac like myself. We returned to the germy lab, and I watched as they poked my little baby with a needle. Again, a week passed, and I still hadn’t heard anything. After a series of calls between the pediatrician’s office and the lab, it was determined that Micah’s test results were misplaced. I was asked to please be patient while they sorted out the mishap. When the results finally surfaced, everything came back in normal range. My boy was healthy, and my mind was at ease. I could throw away all my new found knowledge about infant endocrine disorders.
The newborn screening ordeal might have left me just a little anxious and reactive. I am working on staying calm and backing away from the internet. I’m happy to report that I spend WAY less time researching health problems each day. And that sweet smell coming from his diapers? Nothing more than the scent added by the manufacturer to keep baby fresh!