The Hidden Costs Of A Strep Test


One of my kids had a strep test. The insurance co-pay was $15, but there were hidden costs.

1. Productivity.  

On the morning of day three of “my throat hurts” with no other symptoms except for a few rogue sneezes, I presented the put up or shut up ultimatum: “School or doctor. What’ll it be?”

“Doctor,” he said.

Crap. No school + doctor = I wasn’t going to get anything done.

2. Integrity.  

What I said when he cried and swatted at the giant cotton swab the nurse had to shove down his throat: “Be brave! Let the nurse do her job! It’s no big deal! You’re okay…it’s okay!”

What I was thinking: Better you than me kid! I would never let her stick that thing in my mouth. I’d rather have an epidural! Tell that nurse to tickle her own damn tonsils!

The strep test made me a liar and a jerk.

3. Guilt.

The only way to win his love back – because even though it was his idea to go to the doctor, it was obviously my fault that he was assaulted by a foot-long Q-tip – was to reward him.

“What can I do to reward you for your courage?” I asked knowing full well what the answer would be.

“The toy store,” he said through tears.

We settled on Target because it was closer and open and I needed a few other things (Target sells wine in my neck of the woods). One tower of 50 Crayola Pip Squeaks Markers, one sketch pad, one Imaginext blind bag, one box of Children’s Claritin chewable tablets (per the doctor’s instructions), and $47.18 later, balance was restored to the universe.

4. Sanity.

By the time we got home, I was exhausted, depraved, remorseful, $62.18 in the hole, and stuck at home for the rest of the day with a not-really-sick kid who wanted chocolate chip Little Bites and icy-cold water approximately every eleven minutes. In addition, I had nothing but unwanted time on my hands to fold two loads of laundry, including two fitted sheets (the worst!), unload and reload the dishwasher, stare at but do nothing about the half-dozen piles of crap on the dining room table, think about but do nothing about the dog poop strewn all over the back yard, and plan a dinner that I knew in my heart I wouldn’t actually cook.

In case you were wondering, the strep test came back negative. Shocker. The kid went straight back to school the next morning because strep tests were costly, and I couldn’t afford another day like that.


Filed under going to the doctor, motherhood

4 responses to “The Hidden Costs Of A Strep Test

  1. lemontreelifecoach

    This post made me laugh! We’ve had a few sick days home this winter. I’m thankful that this year I’m working for myself and have the opportunity to stay home with the boys when they are sick. On the other hand, there are “hidden costs” as you said. This morning when the alarm rang, I considered going back to sleep and letting the boys stay home. It’s a cold, dark winter morning, and another day at home just felt nicer than having to drag everyone out of bed and get to school. But then I thought about how I wouldn’t be able to get anything done if they were home, and that motivated me to get going! Sometimes the boys ask why they have to go to school. Of course I say something about learning the important things. But really, in my heart, the reason is so that mama can have time to get some work done!! Thank you, school, for enriching my kids’ lives, and getting them out of the house consistently… without me being there!


    • I’ve reached a place where I enjoy having my boys home from school, too. (For a little bit, anyway.) Screw the alarm and school lunches and homework! It’s just not okay when there’s a strep test involved. 🙂


  2. Strep blows! (I got it last week.) sounds like you’re on the mend 🙂


  3. Clara

    Wow they really do a lot of useless tests in the US! Here in the UK if there are pus on the tonsils they get usually get antibiotics and if just red then it’s a virus and give them paracetamol. I found all the differences in management of pregnancy bizarre too. Pretty sure it comes down to money and insurance. Love your blog by the way!


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