Simon hates going to the doctor. Our first evaluation with a developmental pediatrician and psychologist were going fine, my 3 1/2 year old easily letting us parents out of the room for fun skills tests, charming the testers and showing off his reading skills. What we didn’t know is that the doctor would do a physical exam in addition to the behavioral, emotional, and academic tests. The screaming, crying, desperate attempts to flee made the exam incomplete. They never did get a blood pressure, after ten attempts, and I think they gave up the head circumference after one.
With this most recent experience in mind, I got a feeling of dread when I saw the well child visit I scheduled months ago show up on the calendar. Pause. Breathe. You have time, don’t just accept it, make an effort to make it work.
I repeated my directions to my self, and opened up my online healthcare portal. We have the good fortune to have quick access to electronic communication with our doctors. I typed, read, retyped, and reread a letter to the doctor, briefly mentioning SPD, referring to the extensive chart notes the OT and evaluators have (thank goodness they’re all in the same organization! No pesky release of information requests.), and requested a few very specific adaptations for my son. Don’t touch him until it’s necessary, let us use bubbles if we need (they worked wonders when he needed stitches in the ER), take it slow, keep the lights and sounds low. Let Simon weigh things. He loves that. We told Simon all about the trip, and the way they would try not to touch him, and let him do fun stuff. He’d get to a play with a flashlight.
The doctor himself, not one of the nursing staff, came to greet us in the waiting room. He was quiet, kept his distance. Simon climbed happily onto the scale, declaring proudly that he was 42 pounds. No wonder he’s so hard to pick up now. And then a minor miracle happened. Simon stood under the board that slides down to measure height. He stayed long enough to get an accurate height measurement. He would scream and wail and run from it every time in the past.
After a lot of hesitation, coaxing, and playing, we got a good look in his eyes. When I held a piece of veggie booty above my son’s head, he opened his mouth wide and the doctor got a long view. I dropped it in my son’s mouth, feeling a little bad about treating him like a puppy in training. Whatever works.
The doctor never did get a look in his ears, or even attempt a head measurement, but he had a long time to listen to heart and lungs, feel his belly, observe his normal, non-terrorized movement, and have a chat about his sleep, behavior, and so on.
A little advance warning for all involved, and we get what we need out of our visit. I’m proud of my son, who was toast by the end of it and wouldn’t complete the eye test, but no ones worried about his vision, so we’re not concerned. He held it together as long as we needed him to. I’m grateful for a doctor who took time to listen, respond to our concerns, and make adaptations to make things easier on all of us. And mostly I’m thankful for the diagnosis itself, for the information we’ve gotten about SPD, about Simon, about ourselves.