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The doctor is out

August 28th, 2003 · 2 Comments

Yes, the doctor is out. Out of the country, that is. Our pediatrician (“Dr. O.”) is on sabbatical, gone with her family to Europe where her husband is working for a while.

So at our appointment today we met our new pediatrician (“Dr. N.”), who is substituting for our doctor until her return sometime around the new year, and then he will be splitting her practice with her. I haven’t been 100% happy with our pediatrician, Dr. O.; I’ve had my moments when I’ve disagreed with her, thinking she is over-concerned for ordering extra tests to check various diagnoses. But compared to most physicians I’ve experienced she is fairly relaxed and reasonable. It’s great to have a doctor who is also a mom of three, and an islander, someone who understands the options and limitations. The girls and I have seen her at the grocery store and at the library with her kids, several years older than my own set. She knows what it is like to raise children and to do it on Bainbridge. A friend of mine called her “matronly”: she is gentle and firm, apologetic and concerned.

Dr. N didn’t fare so well today. I missed the three years of history and relationship I’d built up with Dr. O. It felt like a lot of work to explain to Dr. N. what I was expecting with my third child, after my other two kids, in areas such as mobility, diet, vitamins and vaccinations. I was surprised that he didn’t seem to examine Elisabeth much, look at her muscle tone, or have her demonstrate her crawling or walking abilities. I delay the MMR vaccination until 15 months, which goes against clinic policy, and I had to explain that to him also. At times it felt more like interacting with a machine, used to procedures, standards and policies, rather than building a relationship with a person. He asked how well Elisabeth could speak, so I had her demo her hand signs. Then when he asked me where he could find a book on sign language so his seven month old could learn, I felt flattered but also flabbergasted and frustrated!

Although I’ve had my moments with our old pediatrician, I realized how much I miss her. Both pediatricians we’ve had – Dr. O. here and the one we had in San Jose – were older than me, and also had more life experience, with children older than my own. But it was clear with Dr. N. that this is not the case. On my way out the door I picked up his vitae and saw that he finished his residency last year, and graduated from med school in ’99. So now I am older and more experienced as a parent than my pediatrician.

I know that there are plenty of young pediatricians out there who need experience, as physicians and as parents. Had I gone down that path – which I came close to doing – I would have found myself in the same position. So I do want to be patient and understanding, even merciful and gracious.

But there is something to be said for realizing the importance of having experience, as a physician and as a parent. There is something to be said for realizing that your physician is also your friend. And I hope Dr. O. returns home soon. She left behind some big shoes to fill.

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 enoch // Aug 30, 2003 at 6:54 pm

    loved reading how connected you feel to your regular pediatrician. i miss that with patients since i’m do urgent care. how come the wait on the MMR?

  • 2 me // Sep 3, 2003 at 10:34 pm

    Yeah, that must be hard to not connect with those you see: doing the urgent care must be very different.
    The wait on MMR is just to be a little cautious and allow a little more time before another vaccine. Abigail had a different schedule in CA than the clinic here, later dates for the shots, but I’ve gotten my dr. to do Abigail’s schedule for my other two girls.