Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bedside Manners

January seems to be the month of check-ups. Good time for a tune-up I suppose. I had mine, and now the girls are having theirs. We paid our respects at the ENT on Tuesday. Today it was the dentist. I know you will say I'm strange, but I love taking my kids to the doctor. I don't even mind going myself, as long as there is no danger of a painful procedure being performed as part of the appointment. I'm sure there are some mean and uncaring doctors out there, but thankfully, I have not had the bad luck to encounter more than one, maybe two, in my life. They are always so nice to my kids. And to me. The nurses make a big fuss over the girls when they come in. They make up great little stories about what they're doing, such as, "Do you think I can find a princess in your ear?" or "Your job is to give Mr. Thirsty a kiss so the flouride doesn't set up camp in your tummy." They give them little prizes. Today Big Stuff got a mood ring from the dentist. She thought this was THE BOMB. She marveled over it all day. "What does black mean, mama? I think blue means I am very, very happy." And the thing I really like? The doctors make me feel like such a good mother. I'm sure they pump up every mom who schlepps in the place, but for those 10 or 20 minutes I am the Queen Mum. And really, how often do you get direct and effusive praise for the everyday things you do, like say, keeping your kids alive for another year? I may not have a thing in the world to do with where they fall on those growth charts, but dang, it makes me glow with pride when they tell me my kid is better than 98 percent of all the other kids in the world...I mean taller. I am also lucky that the girls are great patients. The doctors never fail to compliment them and marvel at their good behavior as they are being poked with things or asked to listen to the wind for the 48th time. And again, although I probably have very little to do with their behavior at that given moment, I just glow with happiness. They are good, I think to myself, really good! The first pediatrician I had with Big Stuff was such a gem. He was an older guy, on the verge of retirement. Very old school in the way that he would just spend all morning talking with you, if that was what he wanted to do, totally disregarding his nurse's promptings to move on, bub. He would also give you all these great home remedies and teach you a little about anatomy and germs and the inner workings of the inner ear during your visit. I read a lot these days about how your doctor should be your partner in your healthcare. I doubt that many young doctors in these big old HMOs feel compelled to make a bunch of nervous first-time mothers their partners, but Dr. W sure did. I loved him for that. And he never failed to say at the conclusion of the appointment, "Well, you're doing a great job, mom." Man, those are some sweet, sweet words!

Maybe the fact that the girls have escaped feeling dread at seeing the doctor has something to do with their grandmother. She was a nurse (isn't she pretty?) for a pediatrician, a dear man whose family became like our own and still is. Mema is an encyclopedia of medical knowledge and experiences. I always call her first before I call a doctor. She's also a great caretaker, and she doles out special treatment and makes you feel downright spoiled anytime you are ailing. She taught me that when you're sick, a doctor helps you feel better. That's all. No biggie. So maybe that is why none of us seems to fear doctors too much. Small Fry even thinks some of them live in fairy tale books I suppose. At her ENT checkup, the nurse said, "I'm going to call Lois in to look at her ear." When she left the room, SF whispers to me, with a puzzled look on her face, "Who is coming? Lo-Bis?" I said, "Yes, Lois is coming to look in your ear." She says, still more puzzled "Is Lo-Bis a giant?" I'm not quite sure where she got that idea... probably something about someone getting into her ear, getting giant mixed up with leprechaun.. who knows? But how cute is that?

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