Saturday, May 3, 2014

TToT24: A Village

I took my kids to a new pediatrician this week. We loved our old one, but she moved to Boston and left us hung out to dry (the nerve). I wasn't interested in the other pediatrician in her practice, but I got a recommendation from one of Leo's little friend's mother with a warning that they like the doctor, but he's a little odd.

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.


Ten Things of Thankful


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28 comments :

  1. FRIST!

    And ten really, really important and wonderful Things.

    I like Dr Ben, too. I hope he'll be good for all of you :) he sounds promising.

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    1. Yay, FRIST! Lovely people, I have gotten to know.

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  2. I have a weirdly abrupt doc who I love! He actually saved my life...sounds dramatic but very true and it was because of his persistance and insistance in being kept in the loop vs having everything forwarded in... People hate his bedside manner ( I dont) but love him....Hope you guys never need an actual life saver but glad you may have one anyway! stunning list!

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    1. Yes, I can deal with abruptness (oddness?) if it's within a really good doctor. I have high hopes. Apple pie, in the sky.

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  3. "weirdly abrupt" hahaha Zoe.

    Sarah, what a sweet way to honor the special people in your mommy world. We LOVE our pediatrician, and that's HUGELY important, I agree 100%. He's so kind, patience, and gentle. Our boys have been seeing him since they were newborns.

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    1. You know, I even have fond memories of our family doctor when I was a kid, though he was most certainly odd. It's an important role.

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  4. I love this post! You have been surrounded by a lot of caring individuals. I'm sure there have been a lot of UNcaring individuals as well, which makes you appreciate these others so much more. Dr. Ben sounds like he will be wonderful. Oddly wonderful.

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    1. Yes, the UN highlight the caring, huh?

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  5. I will forever hold a special place in my heart for my youngest son's pediatrician, who shared her home phone number with us so we could reach her at any time. Also, the children's librarian who sent a get-well card to my daughter when my daughter had ear tubes put in. I could go on and on. People who not only do their job, and do it well, but actually personally care for their patients/clients/students are definitely worth their weight in gold!

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    1. Those are marvelous examples, and I can see why you hold those memories dear.

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  6. Agreed - a good pediatrician is key. I was ready to hate Dr. Ben, but after reading all the way to the end of the post, I think he sounds like a keeper. We love Zilla's pediatrician for many of the same reasons, And I could not agree with you more about how important and valuable a good team of teachers, docs, counselors, whatever are for a child with particular needs and her family. And when you don't have that in one or more of the people the child deals with...well, let's just say it ain't good.
    So happy for you!

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    1. Yes. I actually switched doctors when Maggie was a baby, and even though it was an improvement, I've realized it still wasn't great. I've been much happier with our doctors around here.

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  7. I love your list and couldn't agree more about having a great pediatrician whether your child does have delays or not. I had to switch my daughter's pediatrician before having my second, because our health insurance changed. I went with a recommendation from my brother-in-law and sorry I did to be honest, because the issues we had in the end with the new pediatrician were just too much (he misdiagnosed my oldest a last year as having a bad cold when she had RSV pneumonia) and ended up switching once again after that debacle. But must say happy I did and do like the new doctors so much better and have had in just about a year being with them much better experiences. So, couldn't agree more on this.

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    1. Having to switch that many times sounds like a huge pain, but I'm glad you have someone you like now.

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  8. I changed my kids' pediatrician because of personality. She was just distant and not warm at all and I need a relationship with my kids' health care peeps. So I get it!

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  9. So glad you found a good doc! What a relief, and it's reassuring to know there's more than one good one out there. Remind Maggie of kind uncle Scott too :)

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    1. Uncle Scott is a good doctor, even if he is a boy.

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  10. We are technically on our third pediatrician... The first was my pediatrician...yes he was still practicing. Like you I had to remind him every visit what was going on with MY Maggie..It took longer than it should have but we did leave....Then we found Dr. Ted... we love Dr. Ted...but then our insurance changed and we had to change yet again... SIGH>..However we did have a good pediatrician.. who was through and didn't dismiss my fears.... We are now back with Dr. Ted but we saw his partner.. Dr. Wes.. who we also really liked and also embraced our homeopathic tendencies...Which he wouldn't let me say homeopathic that they were more like Natural Remedies. There were some things we didn't agree on but he was not pushy about it.

    All that being said that I didn't get choosey about doctors until my Chronic illness ...

    Great list!

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    1. You have a Maggie too! It's a great name. I am always open to natural or homeopathic remedies. My husband, not so much. But I am a hippie at heart.
      Glad you have someone good now!

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  11. One of my "favorite" (do I dare admit I have them as a school nurse?) patients was one with special needs. He and his entire family were a blessing to me!

    Can only imagine the gratitude you feel when you find caregivers who both connect and sincerely care for your children! They exist, but I'm sure it's not always easy to find them.

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    1. They do exist and they are among the best, in my opinion! As a school nurse, I imagine you saw so many children that one had to be pretty special to stand out from the group!

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  12. I am thrilled you found a doctor you like. He sounded awful at first, but man, he sounds great. An entire hour? Awesome. I don't know what I'd do if our pediatrician ever left. I love her, and she knows my kids so well.
    Sounds like you have been blessed by some knowledgeable and thoughtful caregivers.

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    1. Yeah, I know! What I was trying to say but didn't really get across is that I almost have to love the caregiver to trust them with one of my babies. And some have definitely been deserving.

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  13. We go to a group of three and I only like two of them. The one who called me about Nik's scoliosis report was the one I don't like. I think that's the reason I had a difficult time hearing it. She speaks like an automaton, seems hesitant when I asked her questions and I just plain don't like her. Her regular doc would have answered my questions, not made me feel rushed and I would have received the news much better. So I get what you're saying. This new pediatrician sounds like a find! This whole list is your village.....you are blessed to find good people to support and encourage and listen. It makes a world of difference.

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    1. Well, that is unfortunate. I switched from Maggie's first doctor when he told me we needed to refer her to infant-toddler services. I knew it was true, and the next doctor said the same, but I never got comfortable with that first doctor. We are lucky with the village we've built.

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  14. Sarah! How did I miss this? Oh! Right! I was hanging out with you IN REAL LIFE (yay!!!). I love this post. I love that you've found a team that sees your daughter as a whole person, and you as a whole family. That's really big. Huge, big.
    Also, sidenote... that "ages and stages" thing? I told the nurses at Tucker's pediatrician's office to never give me one again. And now, they don't. Something to consider. Also hugs to you.

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