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.
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.