Thursday, April 26, 2012

Being Different

Yesterday JT had his annual medical check-up. Before we left the house, I had a discussion with him about how he should talk with the provider. Many times when we are visiting the doctor's office, JT enjoys saying things that might set her on edge. For example, when she asks him if he wears his helmet when riding a bike, he'll say something like, "I love flying down the hill recklessly. Pain is only pain. I don't mind."

I spend the appointment cringing and waiting for her to begin the 'You Are a Bad Parent' lecture. I have endured these lectures on many different occasions. I know she's just trying to be helpful, but she really doesn't understand my boys all that well. I'm not sure how the medical community became society's go-to place for how to raise a child, but long ago I learned they have very little to add to my ability to take care of my kids.

During the conversation with JT, I explained that we are really only going to the appointment to have his health checked, not to benefit from her parenting advice. The less we chat, the less we have to be lectured. He asked me for an example of things she has said in the past. One that stands out in my memory is her advice on how to get my extremely picky eater, EM, to eat more vegetables. Her first suggestion was to puree veggies and hide them in his spaghetti sauce. I told her that he is hyper-sensitive to textures and smells and that there is no way I could pull that off with him. Then she suggested I give him some of the new V8 drinks. I just laughed. The boy drinks milk, raspberry Juicy Juice and grape Juicy Juice. Nothing else. I know this because I have spent the last six years of his life trying every possible means to entice him to try new food and have come to the conclusion that he will make it to adulthood on his limited diet. JT laughed hysterically at the idea of EM not noticing something added to his spaghetti sauce. HE knows what his brother is like and understood the futility of such a suggestion. HE KNOWS HIS BROTHER. This is the key. Knowing the child. Someone who sees my children a total of maybe one hour a year is in no position to suggest the best way to take care of them.

So, back to the appointment. The first snag we run into is the nurse telling JT he will need two immunizations. I had come to the appointment knowing they were probably going to want him to get the meningococcal conjugate vaccine. Common practice in PA is to give this vaccine upon entry to 7th grade. I wasn't sure if I wanted to have that one administered yet, since he isn't the typical age for a 7th grader. It used to be given to kids before college entry, not in middle school. I wasn't sure about his risks for contracting any of the illnesses associated with this vaccine. Plus, I had prepared him for the possibility that he might get one shot, not two. I was surprised that they wanted him to get a DTaP booster, since I thought the standard dosage was to give a booster every 10 years. We chatted with the nurse for a bit and I told her we'd discuss it with the doctor as well. We came to the conclusion that we'd only do the meningococcal and save the DTaP for next year.

JT mentioned that his throat has been a bit sore. The doctor took a look and found he had a small ulcer on the back of his throat. I get these ALL the time, usually when I have been eating too many acidic foods. I also used to get them from cinnamon gum until I found out I was allergic to the acacia found in most brands and stopped chewing it. I told the doctor that's probably what it was, but before I even had a chance to discuss it, she was doing an unnecessary strep culture. JT told her he didn't have strep. I told her it wasn't strep. But does anyone listen to the non-experts? Nope. 30 minutes later the rapid strep test came back negative. Big surprise there.

She also spent a great deal of time quizzing me about JT's school work and progress. Up until now, I had always found her to be a supporter of our decision to homeschool the boys. For some reason, she now had a need to find out if he does any testing and how he does on the tests. In the past, I would have chatted about his school work with her. The way she asked this time made me feel like I was being examined, so I told her he tested advanced in all subjects and I'm not concerned about any thing in his school work.

We left the office feeling like we had been defending ourselves through the visit. JT was irritated about the strep test and why they wanted to give him two shots. I felt like I had been through an interrogation. When we got home, I complained to my husband how the doctor hadn't listened when I said it wasn't strep and how next time I was going to have to be forceful in order to refuse unnecessary testing. He said that most doctors are probably used to people accepting what they say without question. I know this is true. I am just tired of always being the 'weird' one. Granted, I don't really want to be 'normal'. I enjoy my life. I feel I have made very good choices for our situation. I'm just tired of having to keep my guard up around all but my closest friends. The people who 'get-it' are few and far between. I often worry that my boys will have a hard time finding people who understand them. It wasn't until recent years that I recognized that I really hadn't found many people in life that understand me.

If you happen to be someone who gets it, thanks for listening.

If not...keep it to yourself for now, okay?


Tracy said...

I TOTALLY get it! And especially within the medical and dental communities...when did people turn into sheeple? When did they relinquish their role as their child's strongest advocate and just blindly submit to whatever they're told?

It's not that I don't trust doctors--or anyone else highly trained in their fields--they have my utmost respect and appreciation. But the relationship is one that goes both ways.

I think that one of the greatest gifts I can give to my girls is to watch their mother research issues of concern, then ask informed questions at appointments and never relinquish my role as primary decision maker and doctor's partner in my own care (and that of my children). I try to give them a model of respect and dignity with plenty of room for humour and relationship-building. And for the most part, it's worked out really well for us.

We've finally reached a point where we really love our care providers, but it hasn't always been an easy path! Being in a large city, we've occasionally enjoyed the freedom of just not returning to offices where we didn't connect as equals and felt like parts being tinkered with on a conveyor belt. Not so easy for those in smaller communities, I know.

And as for the homeschooling questions...tiresome doesn't begin to describe it, but we just keep doing our thing. We've even had one doctor sigh and say how much she wished she could follow our path for her daughter :-)

Annie said...

Good grief! I am sorry for this. Well, feel free to talk with me anytime. Even if we didn't agree or have the exact same response, I would leave room for two different perspectives. Geez!

Cyber Momma said...

Tracy- Sometimes I wish we lived in a larger community so I had more options for medical care. I just want competent care without judgments on my life. Is that too much to ask? :-)

Annie- I have always been grateful for your open-minded attitude when we chat. :-)

Misty Brown said...

How sad. I am sorry & I too get it. I feel as if all the times I prepared for a ‘fight’ and pleasantly found a sympathetic open-minded individual gives me a false sense of general acceptance. I am never well prepared for disapproval & I feel so blind-sided by thoughtless options re: my child & our way of life. Recently, I was scoffed at by a parent who asked me what grade my child was in. I explained she was home schooled and I had lost track of what grade she would be assigned in a state school. The woman laughed, “Well, you must not be very good at teaching her if you don’t even know what grade she is in…” The woman pretended to be joking but it was obvious she wasn’t….

Cyber Momma said...

Misty- Thank you for your comment. I'm sorry to hear that you have felt the same way. Maybe someday people will realize that giving advice to parents who aren't asking for it is not needed.