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TRICARE Nurse Advice Line gave me peace of mind

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Panic.

I feel it often as a brand new parent. Every cough, sneeze, hiccup and facial twitch has me searching the internet for strange diseases or terminal illnesses. I'm used to people telling me those things are normal and there is nothing to be concerned about.

This time however, our baby girl's eye was red, swollen and had what looked like crusted mucus around it. My internet search led me to phrases I never want to hear, like 'infection' or 'blindness.' The problem is, the vast majority of the people on the internet aren't medical professionals, and even if they were, I wouldn't be able to talk to them directly. It was too late to make an appointment, and I didn't want to rush her to the emergency room. She wasn't in any pain or discomfort, and I was at a loss.

I felt helpless; like there was nothing I could do to protect my own child. It's an aching feeling that claws away at my confidence as a father. That's when the panic set in, I had no idea what to do.

That was when my wife reminded me to call the new TRICARE Nurse Advice Line. Since it was a brand new program I hadn't even thought to try it.

Within 10 minutes I was speaking directly with a registered nurse. She knew the symptoms I was explaining to her, and told me while it wasn't an emergency, there were some things we could do to treat it immediately. I breathed a deep sigh of relief.

The call eased my worry for two reasons. First and foremost, I knew that we were doing something to help our daughter. Second, I slept that night with a peace of mind I would not have had otherwise; a peace of mind that comes from knowing that someone is there to help and guide me at any hour,night or day.

When I look for advice on the internet, it often comes in the form of suggestions from other people who have had similar experiences. While it may be good advice, I am always reluctant to trust it because I know it doesn't come from a credible, medical source.

The nurse on the phone provided good, solid medical advice that I knew I could trust.

In the military, we place a big emphasis on caring for people. It's one of our main goals, and if we don't take care of each other, we can't take care of our mission. The nurse advice line is a shining example of what it means to feel taken care of.

So parents, in the middle of the night when you're worried sick about symptoms your child is having that you can't stop or don't understand, remember that there is someone there for you, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You can reach the TRICARE Nurse Advice Line by calling 1-800-TRICARE (1-800-874-2273) and selecting Option 1. For more information visit the TRICARE website.