About nine months ago, my daughter was hospitalized for an unexplained weight loss.  She had been a chubby nursling.  She ate some solids at 6 months.  Between the ages of 7 months and 8 months, she had a dramatic weight loss.  In that time, she had an insatiable hunger for solids and breastmilk.  At 8 months, she was nursing about 8 times daily, plus eating a bowl of organic baby cereal, 4 jars of plant-based food, and (based on a suggestion from a friend who remedied a similar problem) half an avocado pureed with a banana.  Between her nursing and solids, she consumed enough calories for 2 infants, yet still lost weight.

She was hospitalized…which means MDs.  In my experience (and I hope that my sample set is just small instead of this being an accurate statement of the medical community), I have found more MDs who think of themselves as Dr. House but have little more medical analytical skill than Dr Seuss.  I begged her pediatrician not to send us to the hospital.  I predicted that they would hold her hostage, run a bunch of useless tests, and press their “easy button” of formula mandate.  Then, having believed themselves to have divinely intervened, won’t be able to figure out why the baby is still sick.  Then the baby will have a void of natural immunities as well as not being healed.  I think that her pediatrician is great (when he speaks, he sounds like thoughts are actively moving through his brain), but he only made one incorrect statement which was, “No, they wouldn’t do THAT.”  Yes, they did.

They couldn’t find the problem, so they ran a bunch of useless tests to convince me that they had exhausted their options so that I would agree with them when they said, “She must not be consuming enough calories.  Let’s just formula feed.”  Then, there was this favorite: “You must not be producing enough milk.  She needs formula.”  So I called her ped to say that my prediction was accurate.  He suggested weighing her (diaper on), feeding her, then weighing her again (diaper still on).  I remarked that he had a brilliant idea.  Surely, that could show them how much she’s CONSUMING.


We did that.  She gained 170 grams in one feeding! Alas, they refused to log that she had gained 170 grams when nursing was the only thing that changed.  You see, that would blow the whole theory that she’s needs formula if she’s getting 170 grams in a feeding.  So, they started on a new line of garbage.  “We wouldn’t know how to log it in as ounces, so were not going to log it in.”  Really?  Unit conversion is in the Math for Healthcare Professionals course.  At this point, I had already witnessed 3 days of unnecessary torture on my baby, so please keep the image of me as the mama bear who witnessed the mistreatment of her whelp before judging my sardonic response.  I said, “Since your medical software obviously does not have conversion capabilities, and you also must not have the same internet access that I have to google ‘unit conversion grams to oz,’ we must do it by hand.  Don’t worry.  I’m a math professor.  I can TEACH you how to do it.”  I got out my TI 83 that I carry on my person.  “You see, start by taking end weight minus beginning weight.  Enter.  Then, convert to ounces by dividing by 28.35…” and yes, I happened to know the conversion to two decimal places, but I also knew that they were merely pretending to be attentive.  “…and the result is approximately 5.99 ounces.  Wow! She gained 6 ounces in ONE feeding!  Let’s put that in the log.”  TELL ME WHY SOMEONE EDUCATED ENOUGH TO BE EMPLOYED BY A HOSPITAL CAN’T FIGURE OUT A SIMPLE CONVERSION!  I was even polite enough to refrain from the units of mass versus units of weight discussion.

So, because I wasn’t stupid enough to buy the first excuse, they used a new one.  “Her diaper was on, so we can’t put that weight in the log.”  I said, “Yes, per the suggestion of her pediatrician, her diaper was on.  In fact it was an ingenious suggestion to isolate a variable.  If you were trying to measure her weight, we would need her diaper off.  However, we want to measure just the amount of milk that she consumes.  If you measure with a diaper change in the middle, you are measuring the amount she consumes minus the amount that she inevitably deposits in the diaper.  That’s two variables…which leads to an inaccurate reading.”  Blank stares.  I refer to math that I KNOW they had to take to get the job.  “It’s like looking at just the linear RATE of intake.  You know, like observing slopes without changing y-intercepts?”  Blank stares.  OH, COME ON!  That didn’t even require any real arithmetic, just a basic concept!  Then, I heard many of my former nursing students in my head saying, “I’m never going to have a conversation about slopes ever again!   As soon as that test is over, I’ll flush it out of my brain.”  Uh, huh.  That’s probably why I’m getting blank stares.

People say all the time, “Who needs math?  I’m never going to use it.”  Really?  Can all of those people all wear a sign or maybe some sort of conspicuous hat that will let me know that when I, the mama bear, am emotionally drained from an incessant attack on one of my whelps, I can identify and avoid them?  That would be helpful.

Just to round out the happy ending, I gave up and fed the god complex of the MDs.  My mother asked good questions before my release that acknowledged the lack of logic in their conclusions.  They deflected but never answered the question.  Then there was more feeding of the god complex which resulted in her release papers.  Two days later, my best friend (a med student) called me to say, “I learned about your baby in a lecture today.”  She exhibited all the signs of a baby with Vitamin K deficiency.  I now have a healthy toddler! Thank God for MDs and pre-MDs who use gray matter!