It’s Just Bothering Me

I’m sharing this because I know you’re good listeners and you’ll offer me some valuable advice.  Added together, you all have many lifetimes of experience and right now I need it.

I’ve been taking my son to an allergist since early April.  I want him immunized against bees, so he can live free of the fear of shots and hospitals and near death experiences.  I did some research before we went, so I was prepared to commit to many years of allergy shots before he would be fully immunized.  The good news is that when he is done, he will be immune for life.  For me, that’s worth one afternoon a week for the next five years.

My problem is with his doctor.  I’m fine with him having a bizarre personality, but he makes me feel like all my son’s problems with allergies and asthma are my fault.  I get high blood pressure early in the day of our appointments dreading another encounter.  Switching doctors is really out of the question since the next closest pediatric allergist/immunologist is a three-hour round trip away.  I am stuck.

On our first visit the doctor interrogated me over my son’s first anaphylactic reaction.  It was when my husband was in school and we lived in Florida.  My son was stung by about ten fire ants on his feet and ankles and had a severe reaction.  I have the doctor’s records from the ordeal, but at our visit, I was under interrogation.  I recounted in great detail each moment of this episode, but it was not enough for this doctor.  He wanted to know what kind of sandals my son was wearing at the time of the stings and I couldn’t remember.  It was seven years ago and my son was three.  I’m sure they were most likely the velcro kind, but was that the Bob The Builder summer or the Thomas The Tank Engine summer?  I just couldn’t remember.  The doctor’s exact words were, “This was  a traumatic event.  Your son nearly died and you can’t remember what shoes he was wearing?!”

No doctor, but I do remember how fast my husband was driving to the hospital and I remember how we ran in holding my son’s limp body in our arms.  How when I was still signing our names at the front desk, the doctors and nurses came running out to whisk us away.  I remember when they placed the clip on his finger and I saw his oxygen level.  I remember my young mother’s heart growing old in an instant.  I remember exactly what shots and medications they gave him and I know that it took two breathing treatments to bring life back into him.  I remember that he didn’t cry or scream.  More than anything, I remember the silent, scared look in his little eyes.  I remember that after it was all over, the doctor admitted that there were a few minutes when he didn’t know if my son would make it.  I remember sleeping with him for the next several days and listening to his labored breathing.

I remember that the God who holds life and death in the palm of His hand chose to spare my son’s life that day.  I remember the wonderful doctor, nurses, and respiratory therapist that worked on him and how thankful I was for each of them, especially the doctor who let me call him two nights later with questions.

I also remember that we lived in Florida for two more years and that we made sure he never got stung by another ant again.  I remember all the steps he took, because we checked each and every area first.  I remember scouring the preschool play-yard, talking to maintenance men, and constantly calling the school office to make sure he was ok.  I remember.

I only forgot what kind of sandals he was wearing that day.

This past Friday was our first appointment again in the past six weeks.  The doctor put my son on an arsenal of medication in hopes of controlling his asthma and allergies better.  For this reason, he didn’t want to see us for six weeks in order to give the medication time to work.

When I was asked if I thought my son was doing better since we had begun coming, I said “Not really.”

It’s the truth.  He was no better yesterday than he was in April; however, we have had a terrible allergy season, so I’m sure he would worse without the medicine.  I explained that, but the doctor quickly dismissed me by promptly looking in my son’s ears and nose and then declaring him much better than when he saw him in April.

First of all, cut the bologna.  No matter how genius a doctor he is, he doesn’t remember how the inside of my son’s nose looked in April.  I’ve sat in his office for hours.  He has a million patients and needs to reread my son’s chart just to remember his name.

I kept silent.

So he proceeded to listen to my son’s lungs.  Looking at me in shock, he said “His lungs are rattling and he’s wheezing.”

“I told you.”  I quietly said.

After a check on the flow meter, a breathing treatment, a lung test, and a recheck, he scratched his head in disbelief.  If anything, my son is now worse than he was in April.

More medicine.

So I asked when we can begin the bee shots, because I worry about him getting stung every day and he looked at me and said, “Well, if you’re so worried, you could have brought him in sooner.”

Facts – he was stung by a bee last August and ended up in the hospital.  I didn’t previously know that he was allergic to bees.  It took several visits to the pediatrician before I convinced her to give me a referral.  Add new patient wait time and we land squarely in April.

When I explained this, he said, “No, I meant you could have brought him in sooner this month or in May.”

“You told me to wait SIX weeks!”  I exclaimed.

I’m just following orders.  I’m just the one boiling all the bedding every week, vacuuming every day, cleaning air filters, and ensuring that my son’s room has better air quality than the hospital.  I’m just the one going on every single school trip and picnic to make sure he’s ok.  I’m just the one remembering what medicines are for morning and which are for evening.

So what am I to do?

How do I make this man understand that I would give both kidneys and my liver if I could somehow make my son better?  How can I make this doctor be nice to me?  We have a long relationship ahead of us and I’d like to enjoy it.

I’m all ears, honest.

Our next appointment is in two weeks and I have no idea what’s in store.  I never know, but I do know that I’ll need high blood pressure medicine soon.


24 thoughts on “It’s Just Bothering Me

  1. Pingback: Half Killed, But Thankful | the domestic fringe

  2. Mindy

    Robelyn told me about this post last week and I began to pray. When I read today’s post, I realized I had not let you know y’all were in my prayers. I am so glad to hear that things are going better for all involved. God’s so cool like that! ~Mindy

  3. Pingback: Thank You | the domestic fringe

  4. mrs mediocrity

    Yikes. Don’t get me started on doctors. I saw your next post where you said you were sticking with him, but my advice, if you do have an option, is to find someone else. Five years a go, I went through a year of tests that I didn’t need, medication I didn’t need to be on, and being sick all of the time because my doctor, who was pleasant on the surface was inept and lazy. The problem I had was eventually discovered by mistake, and quite honestly, it all came back to the thing I had mentioned to my doctor as a possibility after she told me to search on the internet. Even after I brought it up she dismissed me. But I was right. Now, if I don’t feel someone is doing their job properly, I find a new doctor. there are good ones out there. And there are also bad ones. And always, these days, you have to stand up for yourself. I try to give them a break sometimes to account for a bad day, a faulty system, etc. but there is no excuse for being a bad doctor.
    Sorry, I will get off my soapbox now, and I wish you the best with your son.

  5. Heather

    First of all, I am very sorry that you have landed upon a doctor who seems to direct his focus more towards blaming you than focusing on making your son well.
    Secondly- I know first hand what it is like to deal with these types of doctors. Our pediatrician is great- he has become more like family in recent years than just a doctor.
    My daughter started having periodic fevers on a monthly timeline when she was just 10 months old. We had moved closer to family shortly after she was born and left the pediatrician we loved so much. Every 28-32 days she would get a fever of up to 106.8!! It would last three to five days and leave as quickly as it came- with no explanations. After dealing with local doctors and hospital for months we moved back (2 1/2 hours from family) to be closer to the pediatrician that we trusted. He was amazing, would sit with me for lengthy visits while we banged our heads together to come up with ideas, call me late in the evenings to suggest a test we could run because of something he found, call on the weekends to check on Bella during her fever cycle, etc. However, our three year search for answers led us to SEVERAL different specialists (we would visit a different type of specialist almost every week and they would run their own tests). I found that not all doctors were as caring or had the bedside manner that others do. Some would blame me, accuse me, made me feel like a bad mother, act like a fever wasn’t a big deal, or try and tell me that this was all in my head. On more than one occassion I had to get very stern with a doctor and let them know that if they werent as willing to find an answer for my daughter then I would go to someone else who would be. Knocking them off of their “high horse” so to speak. Many of those doctors came around when they realized how determined and serious I was, while others were quick to show me the door. I realized later that I was better off without those doctors and found others in their field who cared about getting my daughter well.
    Bottom line is, you seem like a great mom. A mom that is willing to fight for her son and his health. You DO NOT have to put up with a dr like the one you are dealing with right now. You do not have to listen if he says he doesnt want to see your son again for six weeks. (Which concerns me also- the dr put him on a slew of new meds but didnt want to see him back for 6 weeks?? That is not safe! My son has allergies and asthma and whenever they put him on new meds they check him in the office weekly for 6-8 weeks to make sure he is responding to them well!) Regardless- the doctor works FOR YOU and YOUR SON. It is not your priviledge to get to have him as your doctor. It is the doctors priviledge to have your son as his patient! The next time you are there for a visit you need to have a serious, and firm conversation with your doctor. If you feel you should send your son out of the room, then do so. You need to be very clear with the doctor what your expectations are, how you would like to be treated, and how focused you want him to be in your son’s care. If he can not meet your requirements then it is time to make that long drive to the other doctor. It may seem like a long drive, but if it is the care your son deserves, it will be well worth the extra miles. Many people would say “easier said than done” but I have done this and I am so glad I did. It is your child’s life!!
    My daughter was diagnosed with PFAPA syndrome almost three years to the day she had her first fever. After a surgery in November she has not had another fever related to PFAPA. It is all thanks to our wonderful doctors that our little girl can lead a normal life now. Good doctors make all the difference- and it’s worth the effort to search for them. Best of luck to you! I will be keeping your son- and your family in my prayers.


  6. Mom

    After years of working for doctors, I suggest a notebook for FringeBoy’s visits. Record ALL instructions in the book repeating out loud as you record them. Record future appointments and cancellations (especially on the office’s part). ASK (or demand if need be) ALL tests results ( labs, PFT’s and allergy testing) at the time of the visit or test date. These records are legally yours and cannot be denied to you!! Keep a portfolio of this info for future use. I am praying God will give you wisdom in this situation and His protection for FringeBoy!

  7. Bee

    Reasons to move on:
    1-When you said your son was not better after being in this doctor’s care.
    2-The inablity of the doctor to communicate information with you (he had not recorded his previous orders to wait 6 weeks)
    3-The inability of the doctor to treat you with respect (YOU are employing HIM)
    4-If he has too many patients, he cannot be on top of his game. You want the best for your son.
    5-YOU are your child’s advocate. He should know that. Obviously he does not.

    Drive your child the distance. Take advantage of the time in the car, to have special time with him. Turn it into a blessing. God bless you!

  8. Heather

    Reading this gave me the terrible shivers. Of course you didn’t remember what sandals he was wearing, or probably his shirt either. I think some doctors are so smart, they don’t have room in the brain for social sense.

    I hope his doctor smarts are enough to help your son quickly. As a life long allergy sufferer, I know how terrible it can be. (I had to run away from two little girls in the gym with bananas today!! )

  9. caprik

    In ALL our YEARS of doctors, we have only had a handful that I did not care for, and only one I had a confrontation with.
    Your allergist sounds like a very small person. He must need to make himself seem more…something, by belittling you.

    I read your comment above that you are sticking with him, and I would probably do the same. Three hours is a pretty big deal. As long as you feel like he is competently treating your son, you can probably put up with his sparkling personality.

    BUT, I agree with Nichole@40daysof , I would CERTAINLY let him know that I did not appreciate his comments regarding my parenting skills. Doctors are just people, and some are Socially Retarded people. Consider the possibility that you are there, in however way YOU deem appropriate, to educate HIM on the finer points of interaction with parents.
    He may thank you some day!

    As for not knowing what kind of sandals he was wearing? Give me a break! Not very high on the priority list in a situation like that. The only reason I knew what clothes our kids were wearing after our accident, was because they cut them off them in the ER and gave them to me in a plastic bag. I think we both had other things on our minds.
    Just my opinions.

  10. doctorblue

    Definitely a case of impenetrable overblown doctor ego here. Perhaps he’s overcompensating for having failed to provide his own child proper care.

    I trust integrative doctors more than mainstream medical doctors, but the integrative doctors who spend time with you typically don’t take insurance.

    I’m glad you posted, because there are so many people who have been betrayed by mainstream medical doctors. By posting, it helps those who have been harmed to know that it is not us, it is the mainstream “system.”

    You should tell DrScore who has a blog on wordpress about your experiences. He wrote that most patients love their doctors and the few disgruntled are so because they didn’t follow their doctors’ medication instructions! Give me a break!!!

  11. Rebekah @ It Only Gets Better

    I have to say that I’m kind of feeling the same way as these other gals. Mostly because I’m doing the same thing by taking my kids to a new and wonderful pediatrician who is an hour from us but that would be much harder to do if we had to go more than once a year for each of them.

    I think, if you absolutely can not make the switch, that the only thing that can be done is to be completely honest and vulnerable. To say, “I would like for us to start our relationship anew. Because in the past I have felt very intimidated and stressed out and like you are being very condescending and insensitive when we come to you. I want to work with you in helping my son to becoming a healthier and stronger child and I have done everything you have suggested and will continue to do so if I feel it is in his best interest and if I can be confident in your prognosis and treatment. I hope you will give me the credit and respect I deserve as his mother.”

    If you get a negative or huffy attitude in reaction to something like this than I would pick up my things immediately, thank him for his time and leave. Period. Send a letter requesting his records and “shake the dust off your feet” {Matthew 10:14}

    Good luck, you wonderful mama!

  12. robinaltman

    What a weenie! I’d like to drive to upstate NY and do a little smack therapy!

    I noticed in med school that there was a certain type of guy (yes, I’m being sexist) who went into medicine thinking they were superior to others. These were the guys bombing their bedside manner grades on rotations. They were sort of hopeless. I had an attending on medicine take me aside and ask me to help one of these arrogant sillies to relate to people. I tried, I really did. I said stuff like, “Pretend it’s your mom lying there. She’s scared and feeling vulnerable. Just be super nice.” He couldn’t do it. Yet, he passed, and eventually became a doctor.

    Over the years I’ve encountered these types in real life, whether it be with my kids, friends, or myself. I know they’re hopeless. I just tell myself, “They don’t have to be my best friend. I’m just here to get my son’s warts off, and that’s it. Then he can go be a weenie to someone else, while I have a nice life.” Sometimes the convenience is worth the torture. Just know, it’s not you, it’s definitely him.

  13. Karen

    I feel for you. We had a pediatrician who made me feel like a total idiot, and as soon as we could get a different doctor, we did.

    I would not give up on the possibility of finding another dr. It may be worth the 3 hr round trip just for your sanity and your sons health. If not, you are going to have to confront this allergist, whether anything changes or not. He may be a specialist and all and have hundreds of patients, but you are the MOM of your son!

    We’ve had to do the two hour trip to the pediatric cardiologist when our kids were little since we lived in a very small town at the time and there wasn’t anyone closer.

    Prayers for wisdom for you! ((HUGS))

  14. Debra

    I have to agree with the other gals. Telling him off isn’t going to work as he is arrogant for sure. Take the scenic route and go to another specialist. I wish there was something else you could do but I’m at a loss. 😦

  15. Gabriela (Gabi with an Eye)

    Tricia, my friend: Get the hell outta there and do the 3 hour round trip. Keep searching for a replacement allergist. This guy’s arrogance is covering his imcompetence. From this end, it looks like he’s throwing darts, guessing which medication is going to stick.

  16. Charming's Mama

    Surely there is a doctor in your town who has years of experience with children, perhaps an old fashioned GP. Maybe even seek out the help of a homeopathic doctor. When I was having trouble with my OB/GYN after my second son was born I called my uncle he’s an old fashioned GP, who has worked in a small town in OR for 40+ years. He did more for me over the phone than my regular doc in an office visit. It just helped to talk to someone else. He took the time to listen to me, advised me on all the medications that had been subscribed, what I really needed and what I didn’t.

    All that to say, get a second opinion. Hope all is well with you again soon.

    Many blessings.

  17. Nichole@40daysof

    I would send your son out of the room with a nurse at the end of the visit and tell the doctor very calmly that you don’t appreciate the way he speaks to you. That you DO appreciate his skill as a doctor and his care of your son. That you are very willing to do and ARE doing whatever is necessary to care for your son. That you are sorry if he has to deal with a lot of dead beat uninterested parents, but you are not one of them. That his tone and words implying that you are deficient is very upsetting for you, so much so that you dread the appointments. That if there are things that he wants you to do differently, he should just tell you in a polite and professional manner.

    My guess is that he’s one of these smart people who has social skills problems combined with arrogant doctor syndrome. Hopefully, if you speak to him alone and don’t embarrass him in front of anyone, he will think about what you say and try harder at the next visit. It is possible that he will become defensive. It is very important for you to remain calm, so that he will feel ridiculous if he does not also remain calm. If he says you are welcome to get another doctor, you say very sweetly with a smile, “I have confidence in YOU and I know our next visit will be so much better now that we’ve had this talk. Thank you so much for your time.”

    If the next visit does not go better, you should make an appointment at a time when your big, burly husband can go with you. I wouldn’t have him say anything to the doctor. You just observe whether or not his behavior improves with your husband there. If it does, then it’s time for your husband to have a private conversation with the doctor about respect for women in general and for his wife specifically. He could also threaten complaints to rating websites for doctors, the AMA and any specific professional organizations the doctor belongs to. Also, it might be worth joining Angies List to rate this guy if he doesn’t get the cobb out of his a***. Good luck!

  18. jenn

    Oh man, that’s a tough one. First of all: what a JERK. I would absolutely say switch doctors, but I understand your dilemma. We’re in a small town and fairly limited on specialists around here, too. Second of all: …? I wish I knew what to tell you. I’ll just send you my best wishes and hope that a new pediatric allergist moves to your town.

  19. Janna Qualman

    Wow, FG. I’m so sorry.

    My first thought for advice was to print this post, take it to the next appointment and say, “Here, doctor, I have something you need to read.” Or slip it to his nurse, who would be more likely to take the time. Make them aware.

    But would he even care? He seems on a high horse, a chip on his shoulder, all those cliches, and it may not make a difference.

    It’s causing you so much stress, and that’s not good. If you can switch to the other office (maybe have a consultation first, to make sure you like the staff?) and not backtrack with your son’s treatment, I say do it. You may rather enjoy a peaceful long drive, as opposed to the build-up and panick of the short one.

    Thinking of and praying for you and the fam.

  20. Rachel @ Future Pastor's Wife

    You’re tougher than me. If I were in your shoes, at this point I would sign a records release form and begin driving the hour and half one way to the new doctor. It’d be worth it to me to get away from a doc who seems more concerned about laying blame than solving the problem with my child’s allergies.

    You are doing a FANTASTIC job with your son. I think the sheer fact you haven’t had another Florida-like scare with your son shows what a wonderful job you and your husband have done everything you can to protect your son. Your memories of the Florida hospital and the things you did remember brought tears to my eyes.

    This doc sounds like a jerk and needs to get off his high horse. How in the world could anaphylactic shock and allergies be your fault?

    Not to mention, if this doc is causing you this much stress because he’s constantly criticizing and/or blaming, if this continues to escalate, it could turn into something where it shifts the focus from your son’s healing (which is the ultimate goal) to scrutiny over what is or is not being done for him. And that helps no one, least of all your son.

    I wish I had advice for you, but with my personality I would have hightailed it out of there. I’ve left doctors before because of how they treated me. And maybe I should cut them some slack, since unfortunately there ARE lots of mothers who don’t care about their children. But rather than criticize and talk down to the mothers who DO care about their children, they need to focus on the ones who don’t care.

    Praying this is resolved and praying for total healing for Fringeboy.


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