Dr.’s Orders

Words you generally don’t want to hear from a Dr.: ummm, yeah… sure if you want to.

No, Mr. Dr. I did not come here to discuss what I do or do not want. I came here to tell you what is wrong and to hear you say: I know that! that is blah-di-bla-ditis! It is a very clear straight forward ailment and you have to do xyz, in that order, for 4 and half days and you will be fine.

Not : Ummmmmm, yeah… sure if you want to.

You’re just playing a guessing game most of the time… but don’t show us you are guessing! I want some conviction damn it.

so, I took S to an allergist today. A great Dr. here in Riyadh. He is the same Dr. my sisters saw when they were younger for their asthma. And I took my other son to him when he developed eczema. S developed a cough a few weeks ago that didn’t get better, only appeared when he was running, playing football or doing any strenuous activities.

So, history of asthma in the family, poor boy can’t play football without having a coughing fit a few minutes into it, I took him to the Dr. I explained what the problem was and then he asked: “Is it a dry cough” not sure… I asked S and he gave us a 10 minutes of detailed explanation of what happens when he coughs, which I will save you horror of reading, and decided it was not dry and not quite wet (yuk).

Dr.“Does he have a runny nose” Yes, he has had one since he was a baby. His pediatrician said it’s nothing to worry about, slight allergy, and I should leave it alone. It is getting better. “Aaaaah, you see that’s probably what happened. Because it was never treated it developed into this” Ok fine, that almost made it onto my guilt list, but medicating a child from birth for a runny nose seems a little over the top to me.

The he asked “Does he cough at night” sometimes. “Does he cough when he is laughing” not sure, but he definitely coughs when he is running and he has a race coming up.  “Does he do this..” and then Dr. proceeds to do an impressive impression of Samantha’s nose wiggle from bewitched. Yes! he has since he was a baby. “Does he do this…” and he rubbed his nose with the palm of his hand. Yes! how exciting, we are getting somewhere. Although don’t all 7 year olds do that?

Dr.“It’s not asthma, it’s an asthma like cough. So he should take this pill once a day for ten days and come back to me then. If this works then great, if not we will look into other things. While he’s here he might as well have a blood test to check for food allergies” I am thinking, it’s a bit late isn’t it? he’s nearly 8 and I garantee you he ate everything edible out there and a few inedible things too, but Dr. knows best. I ask if this would have any effect on the cough and get a vague answer.

Dr.“So, what does he eat?”.    Me ummm…. S:Pizza, Cheese sandwiches, carrots, cheese I love cheese. Me: Fish! S: I hate fish. Me: No you don’t! fish fingers are fish! and so are prawns. S: J likes prawns not me, I don’t like fish.

Anyway, he asked about every food group and many kinds of fruits and now and then S would remember something and shout out :Watermelon! or Pomegranate! and the Dr. would scan his list and see if it’s on there and promptly put a nice black tick beside it to indicate it should be tested.

It would have been easier if we had just told him what he doesn’t eat. Again I ask why we’re doing a food allergy test since he obviously hasn’t had a reaction to any foods. Vague answer, I’m too wimpy to insist.

Then comes the question, Dr. What about the coughing? can he play football? can he race? The other Dr. said he should use an inhaler, but I wanted him to see a specialist first. To which the Dr. replied “ummmmmm… yeah, sure. If you want to” Then he wrote up a prescription for an inhaler that he should take before running or when needed. Damn it… I wanted clear and confident instructions!

I walk out to the desk and give them the blood test form. S and I are having a very educational conversation about blood tests and why they are done and it’s just a prick and he’s being so cute all the receptionists are cooing at him while he’s saying “Mama, let’s do it another day! come on… we can do so many more things today other than this” and I am all smiles telling him “no Habeebi, we’ll do it now and get it over with” and the receptionist is smiling saying “Mashallah, Allah yihfathu (God bless him) that will be 7000 Riyals” ($1850).

Yeah……… No, that’s not going to happen. It’s one thing to do something I am not convinced of, and a whole other thing to get ripped off while doing it.

Still smiling I say ” Guess what S, we’re not doing it today Habeebi” and by this time I have talked him into it so I am actually having a conversation with a 7-year-old, trying to convince him not to have a totally unnecessary blood test that is a total rip off.

Aaaaakh for the confidence to sit there and make the Dr/Teacher/Architect give me a proper explanation and not having to come home to my very logical very practical husband and have the answer to his inevitable question “Why?” be “because they said so…”

Teach your children to understand why they are doing what they are doing and to ask questions. They will thank you for it in the future. Also, teach them to go with their gut feelings (so far they have been right EVERY TIME)


  1. 7,000! Thats bloody high way robbery! I did an allergy test for my son last month at Kingdom, and they took about 550 SAR, it wasn’t the most thourough, but I guess it was age approriate! Poor kid ended up with a peanut allergy, he won’t be able to endulge in one of my favs, Peanut butter and Strawberry Jam/Jelly sandwich <3

    I HATE when people tell me that I must do something, and I have the inner feeling that its a waste of time!

    • THANK YOU! So, it’s not just me right! it’s an stupid amount.
      Peanut allergies are difficult. I hope it’s not a sever one. Just a word of advice, don’t believe people in restaurants and canteens in malls when they say there are no nuts. Unless there is a sign or something that specifically says so. My friends son has a sever allergy and he only had an attack twice, the first time they found out, and the second time was when they bought food at a mall where the waiter assured them there were no nuts. I find we are getting more vigilant about things like this but some people still don’t get that it is a really big deal.

  2. Il7amdlilah its nto the severe kind.. its a level 2? I still don’t know what that realy means. I only realised something was wrong, when I was proudly eating and sharing my beloved PB & J sandwich with my sone AFTER he turned one. I thought.. yala, now I can try it, and see if he will like it (my daughter hates it and it still breaks my heart.. lol). Anyway as I was feeding him, I notice his left high start to turn red, then the area around his eye turned red and got swollen, then the left side of his face, and it was spreading a bit. I realised what was up, and stopped feeding him. Gave him some water to dilute the stuff. And within about 30 min he was all cleared up il7amdlilah. I make an apt, and did the tests to verify my biggest fear :(

    As for the restaurants, these people all annoy me. I have a nut allergy (walnut, hazelnut, peacan), and can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have been served dessert that had them in it, after I TOLD them I CAN NOT HAVE IT, I AM ALLERGIC. They don’t get it.. lol

    I remember once @ cinabun, I was ordering an original one, and the man was trying to get me to try to pecan one. I told him I was allergic to it. He then shrugged and proceeded to pick up my original with the same utensil he was using to pick up the pecan one. I gave him this starteled look, and asked him if he understood a thing I told him. He didn’t. I explained again, and he went and got a new one, and gave me a fresh from the oven cinabum instead.

  3. It would be easier if we could just trust but in reality we must take responsibility as much as possible. This means being as well informed as we can and recognizing that we are each individuals which means that one diagnostic does not fit all. We humans are complex, so many elements reacting together. I hope your son’s health problem will be worked out quickly. I think we tend to put doctors, etc., on pedestals, but they are just human beings who have studied and read a lot of books about illness, not even learning much about what makes us healthy.

  4. you know,as a medical professional,its definitely a prominent problem in saudi arabia how doctors talk to their patients,i thought its only around where i worked (i worked in a clinic that is located in a semi poor area) but i later realized that even in the biggest most expensive hospitals,its still the same,they talk to you like u are an illiterate who doesnt know jack, they never ask whats ur profession (but some times they get lucky), and they presume u dont understand anything about health.

    Medical care in saudi arabia is really scary,i just get so worried from getting sick,not from the illness but rather from seeking medical care! there are no guidelines what so ever anymore.

    here in the US my daughter sees her pediatrician, who is really great,she talks and talks and talks about anything we ask her and she is very well informed and answer questions very informatively, when she is in doubt,she mentions both possibilities and refers to where those doubts came from,the clinic did ask us what are our educational backgrounds and when they knew both of us are dentists,the doctor took the extra effort to speak to us as doctor to doctor.

    the only problem is,after such a positive pediatric experience,i am already having nightmares on how to find a good pediatrician when i go back to saudi.

    P.S. i only that young adults in the US MUST see their pediatrician till they turn 18 after i got there,in saudi, doctors remain as restaurants and hair stylists,they are known through recommendations and words of mouth.

    • I found a great paediatrician. I loved him! My kids loved him! He was up to date on all the issues, he was patient and practical and hated to over medicate. The problem is he was always cancelling appointments! It got to a point where my kids were a month late for their vaccination. And he would cancel as I was in the car on my way, and I am almost always on time, I have time issues, so it’s so disrespectful not to give prior warning. Also, if you had an emergency there was probably very little chance of finding him. So now, my kids get their vaccinations and check ups a good hospital and in rely on about three doctors for emergency questions late at night or home visits.
      It’s true, doctors don’t talk to us or explain, but it’s also true that we hardly ever ask. We do as the doctor tells us. So they might find that they have gotten out of the habit of explaining. I always get my kids involved (as involved as they can be) in the conversation with the dr and try to get them to answer as many questions as they can that the dr asks. Inshallah that way they will feel they have the right to know and will be more inquisitive when they grow up.

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