Is There a Doctor in the House?

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.)

5 comments

  1. timbra · August 27, 2011

    I have many of the same feelings described here. Of course, we have the added bonus of knowing our doc outside of the office, which makes things even trickier. I often go in with the resolve to tackle things and leave with. . . well, with not having a tongue tie clipped for nine months and now it being another 15 months later and still not being able to have the job finished. Oh well, I too am in the boat that we basically just go for well visits. . . in fact, I kind of just stopped even doing that when alani was about the same age I stopped with Airi, which would be. . . . I missed her 21m (our doc does a strange schedule, 21 months and 2.5, not 2y). . .anyway. . . .I can’t even take recommendations from people on a doc b/c they aren’t always looking for the same things as me. . . I don’t want to do meet and greets, or take recommendations, so I just stay where I am 😛 But right now. . . I MUST SLEEP.

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  2. Karin · August 27, 2011

    I feel totally the same way about drs. Why do a meet and greet when the scheduler has no clue how to “bill for it”? “are you sure she isn’t sick or need a well child visit?”. Was what I kept getting. I also know my own mind, but once I get in there, I feel vulnerable and somehow powerless or mute while there. Maybe it will change when the majority of our docs are younger than me… I prefer a family doc for now as my husband and I so rarely go in that we would never find a doc and that does not help with rapport for the few times we need one. They are usually a bit more laid back. The one we have now disagrees with me on a lot of things, but he knows my family and we have mutual trust for our sphere of stewardship. At least as much as I’ve felt from any hcp. Good luck finding and then working with a new hcp.

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    • CJ · August 27, 2011

      What’s strange to me is that most of the doctors we’ve been seeing are younger than me, but I still have trouble with that vulnerable feeling. Even in the hospital giving birth to my first, I felt like I couldn’t say anything to the residents (most of whom were younger than me, except for an MD/PhD guy who’d been in the same PhD program as my husband). But then, when they don’t really talk directly to me, it’s kind of hard to answer directly, either. Some of them play funny games, too, like using different terms for something when they know what I’m talking about already and just want to have the upper hand by “correcting” the patient. And I do realize that my attitude about them (that their purpose is to control me and to be “right” rather than to actually help me) is probably not helpful in building rapport, but when I try to shed that feeling and just let myself feel vulnerable, they do it again. I’d rather be combative, but I’m not good at that, either. And I, too, prefer a family doctor. It’s just easier for us to all see the same person and build a relationship as a family.

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  3. Lynn · August 26, 2011

    I think when I came to the point that I only needed the pediatrician for prescriptions, vaccinations, and referrals (ok, maybe broken bones or weird illnesses) was when I realized that I was comfortable in my own skin as a mother. And the funny thing is, I used to be horrified about things our pediatrician said about cosleeping or nursing, and now it just never comes up with #2. I must have been inviting those opinions (not saying YOU were too, but I was).

    Also, I had the same circumcision issue here in utah. She was touching and telling us to retract the foreskin when cleaning, and I just about lunged out of my seat to grab her arm. Back home, I researched and geared myself up to argue with her the next time about proper care/hygiene etc., printouts in hand, and it never came up again. Now I feel like I would just say: “don’t touch that, thanks” and move on. 🙂

    Sorry, that was a long comment. Stay safe this weekend!

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    • CJ · August 26, 2011

      I think the problem I had was that I didn’t just say, “Don’t touch that.” Part of my discomfort is that I didn’t stand up for my son as well as I would have liked to. And perhaps that’s part of why I don’t much like doctors…they make me feel powerless, despite my best intentions otherwise.

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