Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Pediatrician

Our pediatrician holds a saint status in my heart.

I remember the day I went to meet with Dr. F, with Lucas’ immunization records from UCLA and many adorable photos of my baby who, after five months in the hospital, could finally come home. I was so excited to start planning his return, and coordinating the details with the pediatrician was a major part. Emergency plans would need to be in place and having a good working relationship with the pediatrician would be vital, as Lucas had many medical issues and specialists and Dr. F would be in the middle of it all.

I sat in the tiny cold room with animals painted on the walls and a pile of kiddie books on the table next to me. I was nervous and shaky inside as I held a stack of pictures, flipping through them, admiring my sweet baby who was alive after a miserable 8 month fight to survive. I was anxious to get down to business with Dr. F and I waited, rehearsing what I would say to him. Dr. F walked in the room and took a seat. I am sure I was glowing from all the hype that was going on inside my body. Before Dr. F even had a chance to review the records and admire the pictures of Lucas connected to his ventilator, playing in his exersaucer with a huge smile on his face, Dr. F took out a verbal pin to pop my balloon of hope and excitement.

He explained that he had met with the other pediatricians in the practice and they had decided that Lucas could no longer be a patient in their group. His reasons were because of the extra attention, time and care that would be needed with a patient like Lucas and the discomfort other patients might feel having a child on a ventilator in their office waiting room. My heart sunk. Inside I felt anger and sadness, but kept an understanding smile on my face. Feeling like a leper, I walked to my car and had a good cry.

What was I going to do? UCLA would not release Lucas without a pediatrician and our own doctor had rejected him. I was in the dumps because I knew that hauling a baby around with a 40 pound home ventilator, suction machine, in a double stroller with a nurse could be awkward for any pediatrician’s office to deal with. It was like wearing a scarlet letter. Upon my return to UCLA, I explained to the pulmonologist what had happened with Dr. F, and he shook his head in disappointment. I shared my fear of all kid doctors rejecting Lucas because he was a lot to handle and that he would have to grow up in one of those medical half way houses for patients that can’t be cared for at home. The pulmonologist said he knew a pediatrician one city over from our home and that he would discuss the possibility of this pediatrician treating Lucas. I did not like the idea of having to drive to another city as often as Lucas would need to visit, but at this point I was so drained from living in an intensive care unit for five months that I did not squawk. I was at the mercy of the system. Praying this new doctor would accept us, I waited to hear the outcome.

Yes! Dr. Gold would be happy to take Lucas on as a patient. Not only that, but on our first visit to see Dr. Gold, I was told I would not have to linger in the waiting room when going to an appointment, but would be escorted to the back office when we arrived. I was given the secret office phone number to bypass regular scheduling, and was introduced to Mary, the office manager. Everyone was warm and welcoming and did not treat us like lepers.

That was twelve years ago.

Today  Dr. Gold still treats us with the same warmth, respect, goofy humor and conservative style that he did that first day. He recently put Lucas on Tamiflu because of the H1N1 vaccination delay, and he promised that when the small amount his practice would receive was delivered, that he would save one for Lucas. Yesterday, Mary called and today we get the shot. I will have a piece of mind knowing I did all I could do to stave off what could be a serious illness for a kid like Lucas.

Looking back, I am happy that Dr.F rejected Lucas, although I did not see it as a blessing at the time. A year later, we moved to Dr. Gold’s city and this made things much easier. I could exalt Dr. Gold for pages about how gracious, moral, intelligent, silly, helpful, compassionate and wonderful he is, as we have had quite a history. But for now, I will suffice it to say that Dr. Gold holds a saint status in my heart.

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