After meeting with him, I wouldn't say odd so much as abrupt. He's a fast talker, and he both expects and prompts parents to use as few words as possible. "It's a yes or no question;" "Name one other food, just the name of the food, he has eaten in the last six months;" "All I need to know is whether you contacted the teachers or the teachers contacted you about the fatigue." Yes, those are direct quotes from the doctor this visit (succintness (succintity?) is not my strength). But I think I like him.
I can fairly say I've seen at least forty children's health care and child development professionals since giving birth for the first time in March 2009. Besides not having to deal with the indignity of filling out the Ages & Stages Questionnaire before every appointment (an exercise in defeat for the mother of a child with developmental delays), I need to a connection with the person, a sense that this person really cares. And in spite of cutting me off and redirecting me multiple times, I actually felt this from Dr. Ben. I know. Let me explain.
I like the informality of Dr. Ben. He sat on the floor with my children and let Leo climbed all over him. He let Maggie try on his stethoscope. Maggie, who tearfully told me the night before, "But I don't like boy doctors," seemed perfectly at ease. He described the goal of his practice to be one that provides holistic health care, not just treatment for the flu and strep. He listened carefully to my biggest concerns today. And he prompted me to ask him about his practice.
At the end of the appointment he said, "I know we have not had the chance to talk in detail. What I like to do with the parents of new patients is schedule an additional appointment at the end of day so we can talk up to an hour, if needed. I would like both you and your husband to be there." In addition to that, I told him I would have Maggie's pending neuropsychological evaluation sent to his office, and he stopped me to say, "You know, it would be better for you to bring a hard copy. Hand it to the the person at the front desk and tell them, 'Don't put this in the computer; put it in Dr. Ben's hands.' Repeat that. Tell them to put it in Dr. Ben's hands." So, unlike our pediatrician in Asheville, whose mind I had to refresh at every appointment as to Maggie's specific diagnosis, I know this man will read her report. And then he wants to sit and discuss it with Brian and me for up to an hour. Bossy he may be, but he seems invested in his patients and their families.
After this experience and after reading Kristi's FTSF post in which she praised Tucker's teachers, I've been thinking about the bond parents of children with special needs develop with some of their service providers. These people, the doctors, counselors, therapists, tutors, and teachers inevitably interact with the family of a child with special needs at such a deep and personal level, where the family is most vulnerable, in fact. Because of that, I think, the bond needs to be something more than a distant professional one. For me, I need these people to feel like friends, or at least, warm professionals. So in addition to meeting a pediatrician who might be one of those people who really cares, I am thankful...
2. For all the teachers and therapists who have both loved and taught my daughter.
3. For the ones who stayed long to listen to me cry.
4. For the ones who gave me their cell numbers.
5. For the ones who stay in touch via email.
6. For the ones who tinkered with the schedule to make it work for us.
7. For the ones who looked at her as a whole person.
8. For the ones who looked at us as a whole family.
9. For the ones who were willing to say what was hard to say.
10. For the ones who gave more than their jobs demanded.
A Fly on our (Chicken Coop) Wall, Amycake and the Dude, Considerings, Finding Ninee, Getting Literal, I Want Backsies, Mother of Imperfection, Rewritten, Thankful Me, The Wakefield Doctrine