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Parents: Trust your instincts with kids health

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When you look at Jayson and Tyler Denoncour now, there’s no way you would think they were born 9 weeks early.

“Jayson weighed three pounds. Tyler weighed three pounds seven ounces. They were tiny,” mom, Kristen Denoncour says.

So tiny, they spent 40 days in intensive care. Jayson lost so much weight, he couldn’t even cry. His parents took him to a specialist, who took one look at him and told the Denoncours to get to the Mass General Emergency Room right away.

“It was almost scarier than it was when he was first born,” Kristen says.

He couldn’t digest any food, had emergency surgery and had to have it again. Tyler had his own problems. Kristen knew something wasn’t right with his back, she just wasn’t sure exactly what it was. So she went with her gut, and took him right to a specialist at Mass General for Children.

“The chief of staff at Mass General said he would have been paralyzed by 8 if we didn’t catch it,” Kristen says. The surgery Tyler had was intense, removing part of Tyler’s spine, fusing it together. A 10 and a half hour surgery and a team of three surgeons and 12 people to do it.

Experts say this is a great example of what happens when we trust our parental instincts. Our child’s pediatrician is usually the first line of defense when our little ones get sick, so making sure you have a good relationship with that doctor, is key.

“I think it’s important to remember the pediatrician is there to take care of your child and your there to take care of your child. You’re a team,” says Dr. Claire McCarthy, a pediatrician with Children’s Hospital.

The doctor says no one knows your child better than you, and the best way to help your doctor figure out what is wrong, is to come prepared.

“What also helps me tremendously is when parents come in with a lot of information,” Dr. McCarthy says.

Here are some tips :

1. Being organized for a visit is important.
2. Keep a journal of your child’s health complaints
3. Written notes will help the doctor associate symptoms for a diagnosis
4. Be clear and address the problem with the doctor at the beginning of the visit.

Dr. McCarthy says that it’s important to realize that the doctor may only have limited time, but you should never feel that you’re being pushy or that your child’s doctor is dismissing your concerns.

“If you persistently feel that the doctor isn’t listening to you, and I know the kind of body language, they don’t sit down, you finish the sentence and they’re half way out of the room,” Dr. McCarthy says.

She says if the doctor is always telling you your wrong, then you may want to look for another doctor. For Kristen Denoncour, she’s glad she listened to her gut when it came to her children. It could have been a lifesaving decision, and feels parents need to be vocal when it comes to their kid’s health.

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