What To Do When You’re Sick After Hours?

Being sick is never convenient. Got a big presentation at work? Deadline to submit your budget for the boss? Family party? Vacation?

It seems like that's when you always get sick!

Illness doesn’t care and can ruin big plans.

And it seems like we ALWAYS get worse at night. My now grown kids were hospitalized 12 times for asthma (and pneumonia) when they were younger, and the respiratory therapist at the hospital warned us that they would get worse at night, and their oxygen level would drop as they slept. So, it was important to keep an eye on them.

When my kids were first diagnosed 18 years ago, I was doing a little research and found an article talking about “hysterical mother’s syndrome”. This talked about kids with asthma who would be VERY sick at night, but by the time they would get an appointment with the pediatrician the next morning, they would sound better.

Kind of like when your car is Making That Noise, and you take it to the car repair shop and it's suddenly stops. Then you sound like an idiot trying to mimic That Noise but they have no idea what you're talking about.

So, when you get worse “after hours”, what do you do?

We learned the system here quite quickly when our kids were young. The most important thing is to have an Asthma Action Plan (AAP) from Asthma Doc so we knew how sick the kids were and what steps to take.

An AAP has green, yellow and red zones. Green means you are good, Yellow means caution (you are having problems) and Red means call 911 or go to your closest hospital.

After Hours Doctor

If one of our kids were in the yellow zone after hours, we would call the pediatrician. In our area, they have an extensive network of After Hours docs. We would call our regular pediatrician, who would have a recording of which pediatrician was on call.

The pediatrician offices here have After Hours from 5-10 pm. We would call and make an appointment, always mentioning how many times that particular kid had been hospitalized with asthma (so we could get the next appointment)

Note: our Asthma Specialist doesn’t have “admitting privileges” to our local hospital, so that’s why we would call the pediatrician instead of Asthma Doc.

Urgent Care

We have several of these Urgent Care offices in our area. The co-pay is less expensive than the Emergency Department and they have x-ray machines (to check for pneumonia), can write a prescription for oral steroids, or give the kids a shot of Decadron.

Our Urgent Care isn’t connected to the Emergency Department, so they couldn’t admit the kids to the hospital either, they would tell us to drive them over to the Emergency Department. If I knew one of my kids needed to be admitted, we would go straight to the ED.

Emergency Department

After 10 pm, we would go to the Emergency Department. Or, if the pediatrician after hours couldn’t schedule and appointment within the hour, we would go directly to the ED. Time is of the essence when you have a kid with asthma.

Find an After Hours Pharmacy

We learned quickly that we would need a pharmacy that was open at 3am. Many times we would be slumped in a chair with a sick kid, at the pharmacy at 3am, waiting for a prescription to be filled. My city of 100,000 has one all-night pharmacy.

Know where yours is BEFORE you need it at 3am.

Ask you doctor:

What’s my plan of action? When do you want me to call After Hours Pediatrician? When do you want me to go to the Urgent Care? When do you want me to go to the ED?

And if you are traveling, it helps to have an emergency plan of treatment. I always check to see where the closest hospital is, and pack my Out or State Coverage insurance card...just in case.

Anyone else find their asthma flaring up AFTER normal office hours?

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