Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Observations From The Pediatrician's Office

I took both my girls to the doctor, actually the pediatrician this morning for vaccines. Brooke needed the meningitis shot before leaving for college and both girls received the HPV vaccine. Yes, I am one of those liberal parents who, by vaccinating their children against a life threatening illness. is promoting promiscuity. Whatever . . .

The true reason for the visit was not nearly as interesting as some of the observations that the three of us made while in the doctor's office. I will admit up front that these are random findings so don't spend too much time looking for "the point".

1. When we first arrived in the waiting room this morning, there were two other patients waiting to be seen. Both were little boys and both were accompanied by their fathers. I really am not sexist, but it was unusual to see small children at the pediatricians office with their daddies. One of the men was engrossed in a magazine while his son played with the toys in the corner of the office. The other, who was wearing a blue T-shirt with what looked like the Superman logo on it that actually said "Superdad", was sound to sleep and snoring in the seat a few down from us. Another sexist remark - a mother who was asleep at the switch would not earn a "Supermom" T-shirt but rather a visit from CPS! When the nurse came to call this family back to the exam room, Dad snored on. The little boy, who was probably three, came over and grabbed his daddy's arm and said, "Wake up! They just called Christopher. That is me. Wake up! It took dad a minute or so to wake up and make his way to see the doctor. Perhaps they were there to see if narcolepsy is genetic.

2. The office policy seems to be "If you can't beat 'em, join em." So, they always have a Disney movie showing on the TV. As we were watching Tarzan, Erin commented on the fact that in many of Disney's movies, the father figure dies - Tarzan, Lion King, Cinderella. How depressing is that?, she asked. In the back of my head all I could think was that it was preparing the children of all those going to fight in Iraq for the real possibility that they may grow up without their fathers. I realize this is a bit cynical, but truer than we'd all like to admit.

3. As we were leaving, the movie had switched to Cars. Erin allowed as how this movie was gong to create an entire generation of poor drivers. And, "those talking cars are creepy anyway." I think I am raising the next generation of the TV watchdog group. I guess that is preferable to a bad driver.

4. We have been seeing the same pediatrician since Brooke was born 17 1/2 years ago. In all that time I have never been unhappy with any of the office personnel or the care and treatment either of the girls has received. Because we were only there for vaccines today, we saw only a nurse, one whom I have never seen before. Usually the nurses are upbeat and cheerful. Today's nurse, who I hope was on loan from a temp agency was less than cheerful and, well, not quite bright. I think having two children in the room at once was more then she could handle.

Once we established that Brooke needed the meningitis vaccine and the second dose of HPV and Erin needed the first HPV dose, I thought we were good to go. She came back and began with Brooke. "You are getting the first shot, right?, as she plunged the needle into her arm. "NO. The second!" "they are the same." Unphased, she then gave Brooke her other vaccine and Erin hers.

When we were in the office two months ago, I had given the doctor's office Brooke's immunization record that needed to be filled out by them and mailed to U of C. At that time the office was out of meningitis vaccines so they placed the form in her file to be completed and mailed once the vaccines were in. That was today. When I asked the nurse about the form, she looked at me like I had asked her if I could borrow a hundred dollars. She then replied, "What part of this are we supposed to fill out?" By this point, I had lost my patience. I snatched the form from her and pointed to the big orange letters that said, TO BE FILLED OUT BY YOUR HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL" She then said to me, "We can't complete this form because she did not have a physical." Again I snatched the form and pointed to the big black letters at the top that read, IMMUNIZATION RECORD. Without a word she took the from back and left the room. As it turns out, she had the doctor sign the blank form (except for the personal stuff that Brooke had filled out) and gave me a copy of the immunization page from her file so that I could transfer the information to the U of C form. It is a good thing that no one took my blood pressure as I was leaving the office.

When we got outside, Erin accused me of being harsh with the nurse. "That is how mistakes are made and people die in hospitals!" I could have overlooked any one of these things but the combination pushed all my buttons. Should we ever encounter this nurse again, the harshness will be increased logarithmically! Fortunately for Brooke, this was her last visit to the pediatrician. She's a big girl now.

So, Erin, I will try not to embarrass you next time, but you know how I feel about idiots, especially when it is your well-being at stake. Sorry! No, I'm not.