When Margaret Bradford, from Ohio, US, took her one-year-old daughter Harper to A&E with a raised temperature, a doctor sent her home and said Harper had a “‘virus, probably, she’ll be fine”.
But “he was wrong”.
On a return visit Harper was diagnosed with conditions that need to be caught and treated early to prevent complications arising.
“Parents, I say this with every ounce of sincerity I have - you know your children better than anyone else in this world,” Bradford wrote on Facebook on Friday 16 June.
“You have been there with them for everything. You have changed every diaper, cuddled away every tear, kissed every booboo, cheered every milestone, hugged away every scary monster, and rejoiced in every smile.
“You know your children. Do not ever let anyone make you feel like you don’t.”
Bradford said she is the very definition of a “mama bear” - someone who always has her children’s best interests at heart and is not afraid to fight for them.
“And yet despite this, two nights ago I allowed someone with a medical degree make me feel, for a few solitary moments, like my gut feelings were wrong and I was overreacting to my child’s medical concerns,” she wrote.
“I allowed this person to make me feel like I was panicking where there was nothing.”
Bradford’s daughter Harper had a 105.4 degree fever for three days and nights.
Despite Bradford’s best efforts to treat her, Harper’s temperature continued to rise.
So Bradford took Harper to A&E, where she was met by a doctor who she claims had decided she was “a young mum with no clue” and who ignored her requests for extensive testing, and simply sent them home.
Two days later, when Harper’s temperature had again risen, Bradford called her doctor’s office and was advised to take her daughter back to A&E and demand the tests she’d initially been denied.
This time they were seen by a medical student who immediately escalated Harper’s case to more senior doctors who ordered extensive testing.
“My concerns were not unwarranted, and I now know that what I felt before being belittled, ignored and written off was 100% accurate; my child is seriously, seriously ill,” wrote Bradford.
Harper was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease, which causes the blood vessels to become inflamed and swollen and can lead to complications in the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart, and Lyme disease - two condition which can lead to serious complications if not caught and treated early.
“I will never allow my fears to be written off again,” wrote Bradford. “I know my children and I know when something is seriously wrong.
“You do too. You are their voice and their advocate; don’t let anyone, no matter their degree or their opinion, make you feel like you don’t. You know them better and you can tell when something isn’t okay.
“Say so, and if someone won’t listen, say it louder until they do. Your child depends upon you to do so.
“I promise my children and I vow to all my friends; I will never let anyone ever again make me feel like my intuition regarding my children is questionable.
“I’ll be the mama bear I know I am, and I won’t ever stop even if I have to piss some people off and demand more from them along the way.
“My children deserve it, and so do yours.”
Bradford told HuffPost UK that Harper is doing a lot better now. She’s back at home and will be taking antibiotics for the next month.
“But she’s back to wrestling with her brothers and terrorising the poor cats,” she said.
“I’m glad people were able to find something that resonated with them in my post and were compelled to share.
“I’m so thankful Harper was okay and we got her the treatment she needed before any damage was done.
“I think I hear the story of being frustrated about others not listening when it comes to our kids sometimes, especially being part of a special needs community like coronary heart disease parents, and I felt like it was an important reminder to myself and others that we must never be afraid to question something if we feel it’s wrong.”
Dr Helen Webberley, who runs the online healthcare service MyWebDoctor, confirmed that parents are among the greatest experts when it comes to their child’s health, so you shouldn’t be scared to ask for a second opinion if you’ve noticed a change in your child.
“The doctor-patient relationship is a vital aspect of anyone’s healthcare - it is not all about pills and x-rays, it is about trusting that your doctor has listened to you and understood your concerns,” she said.
“Different symptoms mean different things to different people and it is really important for your doctor to understand what it is that worries you.
“Parents are the best people to know when their child is ill, as the starting point is very different in every child. It is the ‘change’ in the child that can be vitally important - and the doctor can’t always ascertain that as well as the parent.
“If you haven’t got that feeling of trust, if you don’t feel you have been properly evaluated, then tell your doctor - don’t be scared. If they won’t listen then ask for another doctor.”