Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Why I Love My Pediatrician

Our pediatrician is the type of person people love to hate. (Okay, "hate" is a strong word. Who can hate a pediatrician?).

We've been going to his practice forever. It's a team of maybe five pediatricians, but you get assigned to a primary who you see most often. I can recall him looking over a newborn Anna while I blearily tried to stay awake.

These days Anna no longer likes him: she didn't like the way he became gruff with her when she got really upset about having to miss school due to a concussion.

My earthy-crunchy-ish friends I'm sure would have an issue with his office's new policy about not treating families who are not vaccinating their children.

He's kind of old-school, he's nearing retirement and maybe a little set in his ways; he's not one to coddle helicopter parents.

For a long time he annoyed me because I couldn't see how he didn't pick up on Ethan's issues. I wondered why I seemed to know more about autism than he did, and I was the one who had to push for an evaluation. I considered switching practices for a while, but could never find one that "fit," so I told myself to give the guy another chance.

So yeah, he's not everyone's cup of tea.

When I took Chloe in for her one-year appointment several months ago, he brought up her shots. I've written about this before, about my reluctance with Chloe to have them administered altogether.

I reminded him that I wanted to split up her shots, as I'd been doing all along.

He was fine with that, because he knows I always follow up in a few weeks. He gently reminded me about the studies and the efficacy of the vaccines, etc., etc.

I decided that after 10 years, three kids, and a special needs diagnosis, it was time to level with this guy.

"I know all of the studies and I know vaccines don't cause autism. I really believe that," I told him. "But I still am doing this for purely psychological reasons. I can't explain it. It just gives me peace of mind."

He stopped for a moment. He smiled kindly. I knew that he saw me not just as any old parent but as a mother who had gone through an autism diagnosis and come out on the other side, but still fought demons about it sometimes.

"Your peace of mind is just as important," he said. "We all need that. If you are doing this for you, that's a valid reason."

And so when Chloe came in for her 15-month appointment, he didn't talk to me about the facts. Sometimes the facts are irrelevant. He worked with me to schedule another visit for some of her shots.

He's not everyone's kind of pediatrician. But these days I recall the way he called me at work when Anna, my firstborn, my five-month-old, had a brain bleed and small skull fracture due to me tripping and dropping her, of all things, and he spoke kind and reassuring words as I fretted, my heart breaking.

I remember that while he didn't catch red flags with Ethan early on, he did say to me, some time later, "I give you a lot of credit. I completely missed this." That's not something many doctors would admit.

I see that when he was talking sternly to Anna, hysterical in his office because she didn't want to sit in a dark room and do nothing due to her concussion, she felt perfectly fine thank you, that that was exactly what she needed.

Today I see that our relationship with our pediatrician, of all people, mirrors other relationships in life. The best ones aren't always with people exactly like us, but it's important they understand us. Sometimes they refine us. The special people in our lives don't have to be perfect -- they never will be. But humility is vital. So is compassion. And giving another chance.

Sometimes our quirks and worries cause us to do things that don't make sense. It helps when someone is there to nod and say, "It's okay."

1 comment:

Paul Quinn said...

I have such the same mindset. We had a really tough time finding a pediatrician that we felt comfortable with. The crazy part is that we live in such a big city that you would not think that it would be difficult to find one. I think I just do not really care for the younger physicians who are practicing.

Paul Quinn @ Med Care Pediatric