Thursday, May 04, 2006

An entry in the Gratitude Journal

We've got a great pediatrician. Really top-drawer. Dr. B wasn't taking any more patients when we started interviewing doctors. And she was the one who was constantly mentioned as being The One to Get from my physician friends, and friends who are particular about their medical care (and no, it isn't everybody. Some people just say "Okay" to whatever the doctor says, which is ridiculous. The name for that kind of person is Of Late).

But I can be tenacious. We had to have a doc with experience with internationally adopted children and also open to a parent with their own ideas about what was right for their child. I have extensive medical knowledge as it interests me, and have tons of reference books in the house. I have a Merck Manual by my side of the bed, okay?

I phoned a few times and finally begged Dr. B to take on our son, who was arriving from S. Korea within a month or two. She agreed. And I'm sure has been slapping her forehead for agreeing to take us on ever since. For example, Oldest was supposed to arrive in November of 2000, at almost 4 months old. We get a medical report that had scary info on it so we ran down to her office with the reports. She asked them to run some tests. Some expensive tests. I have to give the ageny is S. Korea kudos here; they ran those very expensive tests right away, no questions asked, and immediately sent her the results. I had just enough knowledge to absolutely FREAK about some of the bloodwork, not realizing that Asians being a much older race, have alot more antibodies than us AB bloodtypes have, and just what that meant. Like immunity vs. a full blown case of the deadly disease.

I drove 100 mph down to her office, screeched into the parking lot, and waited like Sylvester The Cat pondering a move to catch Tweety; pacing back and forth and muttering in the full waiting area. She came out for our second meeting, and again greeted me with the words "Would you please calm down! Hand me the paperwork; let's see what we've got here..." And I promptly burst into hysterics "I just know he's dying of 'x'!" I moaned, which caused the entire waiting area to gasp. She patted my arm and said "Oh, I don't think so, but let's go back to my office and have a good look at the test results." So then I got a lesson in reading the nuances of bloodwork. And did I get a bill for all these meetings, and faxing to Korea, and conferences on the phone? No. Not even for long distance charges. Then he had to be hospitalized in S.Korea due to a UTI. More drama, more careening to her office. Frantic, beside myself. Again, full discussion of the BW and tests, taking all the time I needed. Again, no charge.

Oldest arrived, perfect as reported. We took him in on Day 2 of being in the US. She gently took him from my arms -- and I started crying all over again! She patted me and said "Have you had any sleep, Dear?" And I leaned against her, and wailed "Nooooooooo!" And she said "Well, of course not! You are a new mother!" and with that I quit crying. Like a faucet turning off. And got on with the business of Taking Care of Baby. I cried when he got his first shots (that I had seen, anyway).

For Oldest's MMR, I insisted on unit dosed injections. She didn't believe as I did, but she gave him 3 injections, a month apart each. She read the info I had from a friend in Chicago who had spearheaded alot of research and testified before Congress about vaccines and autism (Liz Bert, who sadly passed away on Dec. 28 of last year - tragic death).

Then, we got Youngest. He arrived with raging ear infections and sick as a dawg. Head circumference off the charts. More tests, more tears. Here we were at Day 3 in the US again, this time with 2 babies in our arms; Oldest now 18 months old and Youngest at 7 months old, weighing in at 22 pounds. There were 3 of us crying in her office; me from exhaustion and fear - I was totally overwhelmed - and had gotten food poisoning on youngest's arrival day (another time for this story). Oldest was flipped out at the arrival of Youngest, and Youngest was just Plain Sick. Youngest was sick the first 3 months after he arrived. Many trips to the doctor's office. Dr. B was always compassionate and kind. Suggested soy formula, then Odwalla Milk (sadly, no longer available) and supplements. He got better. We adjusted.

We were down to visits every other month when Oldest got horribly ill. Very ashen, sunken eyes, listless. I woke him from an early morning nap and got scared. He had gotten so much worse in that hour - he seemed to be barely breathing, wouldn't drink or even sit up. I called Dr. B in a panic, at home. The second she answered, I wailed "HE'S DYING! I THINK HE'S DYING!" She asked who I was, and who was dying. I stuttered out our names, and described his symptoms. She said "Well, I don't think he's dying, but let's meet at the hospital. I'll call in X-rays and bloodwork. Get dressed, drink some water, try to get some water down him, and I'll see you in half an hour." She met us at the hospital, and looked over all the tests. Listened to his lungs. Said to try to get some more water down him, maybe have a cup of coffee with her, stroll him around a bit, try to get even more water down him. We spent a while strolling Oldest and then she listened to his lungs again. "THERE! I thought so!" Turns out, Oldest had pneumonia. Antibiotics had him recovering quickly. Did I mention it was her day off? I found that out later that day, when I called her office to ask one more question.

Then, at Youngest's 15 month check a few months later, we went through all the usual questions; and then the red flags started waving - he was off the charts for motor skills, but not even on the charts for social or language development. She was very calm, suggested Early Intervention testing in a very non-threatening and normal way. Just some more tests, done by professionals. Made a few calls. And called me over the next few weeks to see how we were coming along. We finally got in for the EI testing. And got horrible news: He had nearly all the markers for autism, but we wouldn't know for sure for quite a while. I sat in the testing room, rocking back and forth, tears streaming down my face. My beautiful son. He was withdrawing more and more into a solitary place that I couldn't go. My husband held Youngest and cried too. The first person I called was Dr. B. She said "Oh gosh, why don't you come right in and we can look at the tests and talk about what to do next." The boys went home with their dad and I went into Dr. B's office. And cried like I have never cried in my life. While she held me and said nothing.

What Dr. B did in the next few weeks and months changed the course of our lives; she lined us up with the best people she knew to help us, and we've never looked back. We're still discovering what life will be for all of us, but it's a journey filled more with joy than pain.

And today? I took a big basket of gifts to her. With a note telling her what she has meant to us. Why didn't I do this sooner? I don't know. But I did it today. And she cried and said she was so grateful to have patients like us. And I knew she meant it. We needed her so desperately and we found her. Somehow, it all worked out.


My float said...

Oh Vickee, this is so beautiful. How lucky you all are to have found each other. And what a wonderful doctor you have found in Dr B. After I had my son, I took a gift to my obstetrician, who is truly a saint in the making, and she was very surprised and hugged us. These people, so skilled, so full of empathy and regard for other people, are very rare - I'm thankful for you that you have someone who clearly understands your needs, even just to sit and go through blood tests etc or reassure you or just hug you.

May the sun shine always on your little ones.

bonnie said...

You are a strong woman and very blessed, indeed! Your gratitude brings gratitude to my heart.

Carolyn said...

What a great story. I loved it.

daysgoby said...

That was lovely! Thanks for this post (especially after the drama of R) I appreciate your comments!

jak said...

Vickee- what a beautiful post- you are a AMAZING person as is are your sons and husband.I love this post and I love the way you write too.

we are on the go all weekend but I'll check back with you soon.

Miz S said...

Oh my God, I am crying here. What an amazing doctor she must be. And what an awesome mother your are.