2nd Opinions

This was probably the hardest lesson that I’ve learned in this journey, and I think it may arguably be the most important one.

When Nathan was 2 weeks old, he started crying uncontrollably, day and night. It was a shrill, painful scream that would break your heart. We took him to the doctor who sent us to the neurosurgeon. The neurosurgeon didn’t look at any of the documentation, didn’t examine Nathan, and told us he was fine and to come back in 3 months for an MRI. 4 agonizing months later, the MRI was finally done which proved that Nathan had terrible hydrocephalus. A shunt was finally placed and he was instantly a different child.

A few days after he came home with the shunt, he started running fevers and vomiting and I took him back to the same neurosurgeon. Once again the man didn’t examine him and sent us home saying he hadn’t had a case of shunt infection in 3 years and Nathan wouldn’t be the first. 2 more visits and one ER visit later, the same neurosurgeon still claimed Nathan did NOT have a shunt infection. 6 weeks of Nathan burning with fevers and vomiting later, I finally took him to ER and said I wouldn’t leave until the shunt was tapped to check for infection. Finally it was done and it turned out he had one of the worst cases of bacterial meningitis that they’d seen at UCLA. They couldn’t understand how Nathan was still alive.

Why, you may wonder, did I insisting on seeing the same doctor, over and over again?

Because he is a world renown neurosurgeon. Because people travel from all over the world to see him. Because I felt that he must be right because of his experience and reputation, and that I must be crazy for doubting him. Because I couldn’t believe anybody would be so idiotic, especially someone in such a position and with such a great reputation. Because I hadn’t learned to trust my mommy instincts. Because I hadn’t learned the importance of always getting a 2nd opinion.

Today, every time I have even the tiniest question or doubt about something a doctor says – I get a 2nd or 3rd opinion. I question everything the doctors say. I make them explain to me their reasoning for doing/saying things. I force them to be accountable and I demand the best from them. I show them I am a force of nature and not to be taken lightly.

I leave you with that thought: When in doubt – get a 2nd opinion. When not in doubt – get a 2nd opinion. When something tingles in your mommy gut – get a 3rd opinion. Especially when it comes to surgeries and life threatening situations.

To read with more details about our experiences with Nathan’s early days and the doctor, please read our Closure & Warning post.


  1. I needed to read your post. I stumbled across your blog by sheer random chance while looking for someone who is going through a similar situation as we are (My son, Nolen, had menigioencephalitis at 6 weeks, and still hasn’t fully recovered…it looks like we will have continued difficulties and possible disabilities). I am not the type of parent to stand on my head and demand things, that is my husband, who is often deployed. I NEEDED to read this to remind myself that for my sons sake, for my girls sake, I should demand the best, expect the best and accept nothing less.

    Thank you.
    And congrats BTW

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