I took my son for his two-year well-child visit today with the new doctor.
Usually when I’m shopping for a new doctor, I do multiple meet-and-greets, gearing myself up each time to ask the tough questions. I tend to antagonize doctors, and the meet-and-greet is my chance to be my surliest and see how the doctor reacts to me.
This time, however, I just don’t feel like I have the energy for meet-and-greets. Plus, the last time I did one, I really liked the doctor, and then she turned out to be a dud when we went in for a visit.
My daughter was having some behavior problems after my son was born. It was getting more extreme and I didn’t know how to handle it, so I was considering taking her to a child psychologist. I took her in to the doctor to have her checked out and rule out organic causes (like food sensitivities, which she’d had when she was younger) for her behavior issues before taking her for a psychological assessment. This is one of the recommendations in the book Please Don’t Label My Child: by Scott Shannan, and I thought it seemed to be sound advice.
I did my meet-and-greet with both kids in tow. My son was just a few months old at the time and my daughter was a little older than four and a half. The doctor’s manner with me and with the children was great, she answered all of my questions correctly, and I was excited to make our real appointment with her.
At the real appointment, she was fifteen minutes late coming into the room, then she spent ten minutes telling me that my daughter was bad-mannered and that I should use sticker charts and time-outs to manage her behavior. When I asked about organic causes, she said, “You don’t think this is caused by food allergies, do you?”
Before I knew what was happening, she was offering my daughter a sticker and wishing me a pleasant day. She’d never even examined my child.
I didn’t go back.
And I gave her a lousy review on Angie’s List. So there.
So, this time I just skipped the meet-and-greet. All I really need a doctor for is to have someone I can call if my kids need a prescription. Like when my son got pinkeye and my standard “squirt breast milk in his eye” wasn’t clearing it up. I need someone who’ll basically do what I want and not lecture me or try to help me get my kids to sleep better by encouraging me to night-wean them (didn’t work with the first one, not even trying it with the second one).
Today’s well-child visit was going okay. My son fell asleep in the car on the way there, and was sleeping pretty soundly throughout the beginning of the visit. My daughter kept interjecting her own answers to each question the doctor asked, which I found a little distracting, but we were working through it.
Aside from suggesting that my son might sleep better if I stopped offering to nurse him at night (if I stopped letting him “eat at night,” as she put it), even though I told her that our sleeping arrangements were working fine for us right now, the doctor seemed nice and fairly up-to-date on her nutritional suggestions. She seemed a little concerned that I don’t drink milk, which I thought was odd, but I couldn’t ask about it because my daughter at this point decided to catalog all of the types of milk she likes and doesn’t like in cereal or in smoothies or to drink straight up.
My son woke up towards the end of our conversation. As soon as his eyes were open, the doctor jumped right in with the exam. My son tolerated everything she did with him on my lap, but once I set him up on the little table for her to weigh and measure him, things started going downhill. When she laid him down and pulled off his shoes to measure his height, he really started to cry.
In this kind of situation, I prefer for a doctor to slow down and take some extra time for my child to catch up and feel more comfortable before proceeding with the exam. But she did what most doctors do: trucked along even faster, which gets the exam done quicker, but also makes the crying louder.
Before I knew it, she was opening up my son’s diaper, and I remembered that I’d forgotten to ask her about circumcision
I’d been warned that out east, there aren’t as many intact boys as out west, and you have to be even more careful about what doctor you get. I’d meant to ask before my poor guy was exposed, but I’d forgotten in all the hubbub.
“Is he circumcised?” she asked as she pushed on his foreskin.
This was not a question I was expecting. It seemed to me that, as the pediatrician, she should be able to tell.
“No, he’s not,” I answered.
“‘Because I was going to say, if he was, they didn’t do it right,” she said, and continued with his exam.
Um, yes. Well. I suppose my confidence in this particular doctor was a little shaken at that point. I don’t expect much of doctors, but I do expect them to be able to tell an uncircumcised boy from a circumcised one.
My son continued crying until I was able to sit down and nurse him again. Although I couldn’t nurse him for long. After just a moment, she was asking if I had any questions and opening the door, making it clear that any questions I had should be quick and not of a confidential nature.
See? Totally didn’t need a meet-and-greet. I could only have found all of this out at an office visit.
(But we’re going to keep her as our doctor for now. She really was pretty okay, and I like that it’s a small practice and they’re available 24/7 and will even open up the office on weekends, if necessary. And she’s a woman, which is the only kind of doctor my daughter will see, besides the male doctor we met in the ER one time. My daughter loved him. Besides, I have to manage my pickiness about doctors because I’m never going to find one who totally measures up to my standards.)