Regular readers will remember that we’ve had a number of misadventures with our daughter’s pediatrician. This past Monday was our daughter’s annual check up, and our work schedules dictated that it fell on me to take her. It’s been YEARS since I actually saw the doctor face to face, but this was my chance.
I think my wife was more nervous than our daughter. She was coaching me on what to ask, how to respond to questions, what to expect. I thought it was all a bit much. All I really needed to know was the time of the appointment and whether the doctor tends to run on time. The answers, respectively were “10:45 am” and “Yes she does.” So I thought I was prepared. After all, I wasn’t the one getting examined, right?
It’s been so long since I’ve taken our daughter to the doctor, the clinic has actually changed locations. It my first time going to this new place, located in an industrial area a stone’s throw from the IKEA. I made sure I Google-mapped it and got there in plenty of time.
I started to have misgivings as soon as I pulled into the lot. The building looked only a quarter occupied and only half complete, and the fact that the elevator was lined with that fabricky stuff that you sometimes see on moving day led me to believe that this was the case. We got to the 4th floor and entered the waiting room.
Now, I don’t spend a lot of time in medical waiting rooms, thankfully, but this was the most spartan and uninviting waiting room I’ve ever been in. It was the “Parlour Coffee” or “Thom Bargen” of waiting rooms, if you catch my meaning. #localreference And like Parlour Coffee, there was no free wifi. There were no toys or books or magazines of any kind in the room either , and the chairs were the plastic, stackable kind that you might see at a community club. The whole thing looked like it was hastily set up that very morning, even though they’ve been in this location for at least a year. The only bit of decoration at all was a Christmas Tree and a Menorah, which was a nice balance, although things leaned towards the Jewish side because there was also a silvery banner that read “Mazel Tov!” Now, I’m no Jewish scholar, but I thought you shouted Mazel Tov at weddings, but what do I know? The banner had come loose at one end and so it dangled at a rakish angle towards the ground. It certainly didn’t look very mazel tovy to me.
There were two flat screen TVs in the room, so I guess they decided as long as there was TV, who needs books, right? One of them showed “The Muppet Show” on a constant loop, and the other one was showing some dreadfully boring looking National Geographic/PBS style nature show that had a series of middle-aged bearded white guys talking to the camera, broken up with just a few tantalizing seconds of elephants running or dolphins jumping or what have you. The sound was turned down on that one, so it made it even more dullsville. You can guess which one we watched.
Now I know not to expect to get in right away at any doctor’s office, so when our appointment time came and went I didn’t fuss. We amused ourselves by watching The Muppets, seeing how tall we were on the single poster in the waiting room, and other stuff like counting the candles on the Menorah. My daughter actually said the word, “Menorah” out loud without being prompted, and I was so surprised I didn’t even think to ask her how she knew that word.
I believe I said, “Let’s count the candles on that candlestick.”
and she said, “You mean ‘Norah?”
“Did you just say Menorah?”
There was a bitchy lady sitting across from us with her fidgety kid, and she was the type of person who would talk to her child, but in a loud enough voice that you knew that she was actually just using her child as a prop to let us all know what she was thinking.
“We’ve been here for almost an HOUR. Why do they even BOTHER with making APPOINTMENTS? I can’t BELIEVE how long this IS? This is SUCH a waste of TIME. What do you MEAN you have to pee? If we LEAVE NOW, we might MISS our APPOINTMENT…”
and so on.
I felt sorry for that kid. I think he really did have to pee, but his Mom wouldn’t take him out. They finally went in and I turned to my daughter, “She was a bit of a grump, huh?”
“Crabby, Daddy. She was crabby.”
Well it was almost an hour wait for us too, but I have to say, Audrey showed amazing patience. If anything, I was getting a bit antsy myself, and as much as I love The Muppets, almost 4 episodes of it back-to-back was a bit much. I didn’t realize that in the beginning episodes, Gonzo hits the “O” in “Muppet Show” like a gong. I always remembered him trying to play the trumpet and something always going wrong. So that’s what I took away from the waiting room experience.
We were eventually shown to an examining room and introduced to “H”, a medical student who would be doing the initial examination before we’d see the pediatrician. Later on, my wife told me that “H” was probably already a doctor, and he was doing a residency in pediatrics, but I’m not so sure. This guy seemed pretty young and inexperienced. You’ve heard the expression, “Pimply faced youth” before? Well, I don’t intend to be mean, but Dr. H was pimply faced, and youthful. Don’t get me wrong, he was very friendly and I liked him.
We sat down at the desk and he proceeded to ask me, (ME!) a bunch of questions related to Audrey’s health. Now I wish I had paid closer attention to what my wife was saying that morning, but it was too late. I was flying without a net.
“How much does she drink a day?”
I knew enough to know he wasn’t talking about alcohol, so I said, “Um well, you know those little tupperware glasses? I’d say 4-5 of those of milk a day, maybe one glass of juice. The rest: water.” I think that was accurate, but I don’t really know. I mean it’s not like I’m monitoring it. Should I be?
The good thing was that Dr. H seemed to be unconsciously feeding me the answers he wanted to hear, and I played along.
“How much TV does she watch a day? Not more than 2 hours, right?”
“Right, right. I’d say it was about 2 hours.” (I failed to mention that this past Saturday the TV went on around 10 am and I don’t think it ever actually got turned off.)
“And her bowel movements. How often goes she go? About once a day?”
“Well, I think that once a day sounds just about right, actually!” (Although I don’t know if she goes once a day, faithfully like the royal family, or if she’s pooping every hour, to be honest).
“And how does her stool look?”
“Super!” I mean, did he want me to actually describe the turds? It looks like poop. I mean, like regular looking poop. Nothing to write home about, no blood or other alarming features. What was this guy getting at?
“And eating, she is able to eat with cutlery, right?”
“Suresuresuresuresure.” without mentioning that most meals end up with Audrey sitting on one of our laps (or one of our friend’s laps) and we have to use an effective little technique to which I will only refer to as “Mr. Fork” to get any amount of food in her.
The questions turned to more developmental things which I could answer. He asked about alphabet and counting and I said:
“I’ll tell you what, she counted all the candles on the Menorah out there in your waiting room, and she even knew the word Menorah!”
“Wow. I’m not even sure I know that word,” Dr. H said.
“I know, right?” I was so proud of my daughter’s Jewish heritage, of which up to this point I had no knowledge.
At this point in the interview, Audrey produced a wind-up bunny rabbit from her pocket and asked the doctor if he wanted to see it go. To his credit, he said he did. We had this absurd moment when he and I were watching Audrey patiently wind this damn thing up and set it on the desk.
It didn’t do a thing.
But then, Audrey gentlly touched the top of it and it performed as it should, hopping across the desk.
“Woah, cool!” said Dr. H, and I think Audrey was won over by him a little bit.
Next came the physical exam, and Audrey wasn’t so won over that she wanted to take her clothes off. She got shy all of a sudden, and no amout of cajoling or bribing on my part would get her to do it. I managed to get her down to her tights and her turtleneck, and the doctor said that he could work around that by going up under it to listen to her chest, etc.
I was really proud of Audrey throughout all this. She showed heroic patience in the waiting room, and now this guy, this stranger, was poking her, pressing on her, touching her and she seemed to take it all in stride. Her one concession was that she wanted to hold my hand throughout the whole thing, so there I was awkwardly leaning over the examining table, trying to hold onto her hand while at the same time staying out of Dr. H’s way. I think it was fine.
In a little while, the regular doctor came in and examined Audrey. It had been so long since I’d seen her, I didn’t even recognize her. I’ve said a lot of mean things about her in this blog, but I CAN say that she has a lovely bedside manner with Audrey and was able to put her at ease in a way that Dr. H (or myself) couldn’t. I guess it’s one of those soft skills that comes with time. Dr. H kept referring to Audrey as “buddy” and it didn’t come across as sincere to me, and I don’t think it did with Audrey either. Dr. G was pleased with Dr. H’s assessment of her, and things were going well.
The examination was almost over, and I just remembered I was supposed to ask about shots. Apparently our daughter needs to get booster shots somewhere between ages 4 and 6. The doctor said it was up to me when I wanted to do it.
Up to me!
What would my wife do? I think she’d say get them, right? I was imagining the post-exam report I’d be giving to her over the phone, and would she be happier to hear, “Everything went well, and she got her shots!” or “Everything went well, but I decided to hold off on the shots.”? The first one, right?
Then I thought maybe I should consult the shotee herself, my brave little girl who endured so much this morning already.
“Hey, Audrey. I think you’ll get a couple of shots right now. Is that going to be okay?”
“Yes Daddy. I’m not scared.”
Where does she get this bravery? She can swim, she goes to the dentist like a champ, and now here, at the doctors, in the face of a couple of needles, she stoically accepts her fate. We could all learn a lot from an attitude like this, I think.
Dr. H did one shoulder, and Dr. G did the other one, and for both of them, Audrey’s eyes got a little watery, but she didn’t cry (it would have been okay if she did!). I didn’t even get to hold her hand for this part, as I was boxed out by both doctors. All I could do was watch. She was mostly concerned that her Garfield band-aids went on straight.
I’d say that was a success, wouldn’t you?
On the way out, I had to ask Audrey, “How did you know that word, Menorah?”
“Blue’s Clues, Daddy.”
Huh. I didn’t know Steve was Jewish. I sort of took him for a Mormon.