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Doctor, Doctor


This Time essay I’ve just run across has made me nostalgic for our old pediatrician. I say our rather than my sons’, because, well, they’re kids and don’t get to choose. Or even really talk to the doctor, at least at the beginning. Plus parents have come a long way in our relationships with doctors, from accepting their all-knowingness, to demanding answers to every nutty question provoked by an internet search, which I think – in general – is a great trend, although I’m glad I don’t have to listen to them all (the questions).
We used to have the world’s greatest pediatrician, the Marcus Welby of the diaper set, the pediatrician you dream about (when you dream about pediatricians, that is). Unfortunately we only saw him for a few months after Son the Elder was born, before we moved, but those months were enough to ruin me for any other kids’ doctor. Dr. Dream went slowly with parents and kids – he took as much time as you liked to discuss anything about your child. With babies he made sure to slow to their pace. And there was none of this having the kid wait around naked until the doctor shows – you went in when the doctor was ready for you and took your time with him getting the kid ready for the exam. (Dr. Dream was also helped in his style of practice by being in Europe and working under a private insurance plan. U.S. doctors, from what I understand, say they’re pressed to speed through appointments.)
His office was filled with toys – I mean cool stuff, that even looked entertaining for parents.
He gave vaccinations himself – and our son didn’t cry once. This is an astounding fact. First that the doctor cared enough to take the time to try to avoid making little people cry, rather than accepting it as a normal part of the practice, and then that he was able to do it and make everyone happier. (It’s quite simple: he was slow and gentle and distracted the baby with an interesting toy, an old-style enclosed spinning top one time.) Having kids cry at these healthy baby check-ups is a heart-tugger and annoying as hell. Not annoying that they’re crying, but that you take a happy, healthy kid and make him unhappy, even if it’s for a good cause. Well, Dr. Dream taught me that it doesn’t have to be that way. I was never able to pass that idea on to future doctors. (Or in particular, this one heavy handed nurse, who I forgot was so brusque until she was jamming the needle in at another appointment; and I know mothers aren’t responsible for everything, but I do wish I had remembered in time.)
When we left Dr. Dream’s office at the end of an appointment, we (the Husband and I) felt great. We felt like we had an amazing son and we were great parents and we really trusted our pediatrician. Compare that with how the Time writer left one appointment: confused, full of questions and concerned about a possibly serious medical problem thanks to a tossed-off comment from the doctor.
Our U.S. doctors were very medically knowledgeable, I believe, and pleasant. But there was almost always the sense of the clock ticking. That’s not only a hard way for adults to communicate but it puts added stress on kids, who simply don’t operate to a speedy schedule. But under any insurance plan, Dr. Dream and his very child-centered point of view would be unique. We’re still searching for a pediatrician in Spain. I am not optimistic.

Share  Posted by Deborah Klosky at 12:11 AM | Permalink

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