Saturday, August 4, 2012

Dr. Feelgood

YH squeezing a teddy to death at our first ever meeting

The seemingly endless march of specialist appointments for YH is drawing to close. We have our genetics appointment later in the month (after which I hope to be able to be a bit more explicit about YH's "risk factors" and diagnoses) and after that the pages of the special "YH Medical Calendar" that I bought unfurl in beautiful blank space until November.

This is a relief for me--and not just because my sweet boy deserves a break. (And believe me, he *deserves* a break). It is a relief for me because of all the parts of parenting that are fraught with potential landmines from my past, interacting with the medical establishment is the one most likely to explode in my face and render me useless.

I have a deep-seated fear of doctors. This is not "white coat hypertension"; this is active purposeful avoidance of medical professionals.

(And hey--some of my favorite people in the whole world are doctors or nurses.)

I can explain to you in great detail the hows and whys of my fears. I am self-aware enough to know from whence this all springs, and I can acknowledge that it is irrational and potentially self-harming to avoid medical care to the degree that I do. I can also spend hours justifying my choices to you.  I can ignore and explain away potential health concerns with the best of them.

I need to tread lightly on this subject, because I do not want to sound like I am laying blame on anyone else for my irrational fears. I do know that when I was a child someone very important to me was chronically ill, and bearing witness to this made me feel helpless. I felt that I needed to be perfect in order to avoid causing this person more pain. If anything was wrong with me I needed to hide it, cover it up, take care of it on my own.

I got really good at hiding things. Really, really good.
And the more successful I was at hiding things the more resentful I became that NO ONE noticed. Nobody noticed for YEARS that I was ill or hurting. 

And then I became a parent and you just cannot live in hiding when you are a parent. My kids dragged all my hidden secret crumbly bits out into the light.

I work HARD to not let this impact my parenting. I *do* strive to take care of myself and to live life in a full and healthy manner for my children. And myself. And if my kids are sick or injured I will tear down walls to get them help from professionals.

But is so hard to confront your fears.
So hard.

****                   ****

 Helping YH get the care he needs has been a type of immersion therapy for me. Before each appointment I grit my teeth and put on my mental armor. I can do this.

Some appointments have been total disasters (pediatric opthamologist) and some have been pretty good (craniofacial team).

Yesterday's appointment went beyond "pretty good", into the realm of AWESOME. I have a new favorite doctor and he's a pediatric urologist.

This appointment was the one least likely to yield any surprises. We found out in January that YH needed surgical repair for a "minor" issue. We knew the ideal window of time to do the surgery was between 6-12 months but obviously that wasn't going to happen for our boy.

I did my due diligence with Dr. Google, researched surgical procedures, trolled adoption forums for related threads, engaged in some self-flagellation with the self-righteous posters over at mother*

I was prepared but not enthused for the appointment.

YH and I sat in the waiting room for thirty minutes while I filled out paperwork. I'm getting good at writing "unknown" on all the medical history questions. Unknown. Unknown. Unknown.

YH played *with* another little boy there, which was something new and pleasantly surprising. They pretended to catch and eat little fish suspended in a window of gel on an exersaucer in the corner. Adorable.

The nurse called YH's name (correct pronunciation on the first try! No avoiding it by just calling out his last name!). We walked back to the exam room together and YH started to cry. He is SO tired of being poked and prodded. The nurse was very sweet and went and gathered up every car-related toy she could find and brought it in to us, building a precarious pile on the exam table.

The doctor came in a few minutes later. He got down to YH's eye level and asked if he could play cars with him. They raced and zoomed and made "vroom vroom" noises together for ten minutes before the doctor even began to ask about why we were there.

YH shrieked like a banshee during the exam. The doctor looked at what he needed to look at and then said "I'm sorry I upset you buddy."

He talked me through the repair process, drew diagrams, listened to my questions and seemed to appreciate my google expertise. He told me things look very favorable for YH; his case is moderate and should be fully addressed in one out-patient surgical procedure.

Then he asked me how soon I felt we could schedule surgery without disrupting YH's transition/attachment process.

For real.

This doctor, this wonderful man, was aware enough of the needs of children like YH to know that a surgery could hurt his tiny heart. That the trauma of the experience might damage the fragile bonds of attachment we've worked so hard to nurture.

People, this is a big deal. Not every medical professional, not every medical specialist, is well-versed in  the special needs of children who joined their families through adoption. As parents we need to always be on our guard, ready to educate and advocate for recognition of these special needs. It was a relief to meet a doctor who "got it"--who didn't need my canned speech.

We agreed that later this year would be ideal, and he said "Let's reserve a spot now and we'll check-in as the date gets closer."

And YH and I *both* left the appointment feeling happy.
And it was a good thing.

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