Karin has been getting more and more angry with me that I haven’t posted. Well, I guess angry isn’t the right word but she knows how writing here is a great outlet for me so when a few days go by without a post she starts giving me a little shove here and there. Sometimes I need that, which is why we work so well.
So, a few things and of course a picture just to get me back into the posting routine.
Last week both LITTLE MAMMA and TRICKY CUSTOMER both posted about some of the awkward and sometimes inappropriate questions they get asked about their kids when out and about. They both made me think about my own experiences with that. For Liam with the trache and ventilator, and the wheelchair, and the fact that Liam will not speak or walk, I know that the stares and the odd questions just aren’t ever going away. And I’m ok with that. In fact, I’d rather someone ask a question even if it may be awkwardly asked or inappropriate because it at least gives us an opportunity to talk about Liam and to educate one more person about special needs and how to be more accepting of children no matter their ability. It’s only the look of fear and avoidance as if Miller Dieker Syndrome or any other chromosomal translocation is contagious (they’re not) that do get to me.
Last year we were asked to be on a local morning TV show to help promote a fundraiser for Hasbro Children’s Hospital. While in the green room waiting for our chance to shine we mingled with the TAPS guys. You know, the Ghost Hunters, over coffee. They were nice enough but the conversation stayed small. The weather, their book, nothing at all about Liam which is fine. The world doesn’t revolve around us and not every chat with him in the room needs to be about him. After a few minutes the last guest of the morning, a gubernatorial candidate arrived with his assistant. He took his coat off, laid it on the chair looked around the room and walked right over to us.
“So, What’s he got?” he asked matter-of-factly while rubbing his hands together and leaning in to get a closer look at Liam’s adorable face. Just like that. You could tell by the looks on their faces that the people around us were worried that we would be offended by the directness of the question. But to be honest it was the exact opposite. I respected the fact that he wanted to know what was going on with Liam. Rather than worrying so much about being polite that he didn’t ask anything at all but instead just fired away.
But that’s when out and about. Because while I’ve been thinking about the questions from strangers for the last week or so I’ve also been thinking about the crazy questions from doctors that frustrate me to no end! Even when they aren’t directed at me.
On Monday Liam’s best buddy was admitted to the hospital. Our families met through our children’s similar special needs and have grown close over the last few years. While visiting them the other day I happened to be in the room while a med student came in to introduce herself to Dad. Nice enough lady but as this kid (and by extension his father) was getting more and more uncomfortable Doctor wanted to ask the most ridiculous questions.
When you see a kid with a trache you can safely assume that Mom and Dad know what a blood gas is. When you see said father performing suction on that kid’s trache (while the nurse stands by WATCHING?!) you can guess that dad knows what a ventilator is. When the kid is crying, grinding his teeth, and arching no matter what mom and dad do, and the parent asks repeatedly for the PRN pain meds that are ordered, the follow-up question “do you think he’s uncomfortable dad?” may come off as more than a little silly.
But Eric, You may ask, You said yourself that she was only coming in to introduce herself, How was she supposed to know that Dad was aware of these things? To which I would respond that there is a big old binder called the patient’s Chart. It’s just chock full of information about the patient and maybe a quick glance at that before hitting the room may be in order. Hell, even if you can’t read the whole thing, how about the patient History & Physical. It’s generally only a few pages long and is prominently placed right at the front of the chart (I know these things as I spent 2 summers working in the medical records department of another hospital when I was in college) if you see that said kiddo spent the first 7 months of his life in a hospital the parents are probably pretty knowledgeable of these things.
Now I’ll admit that there probably are some parents out there that don’t know these things, that aren’t well versed in medical speak and maybe are so scared or in denial that maybe they do need things re-explained over and over again but to that I say utilize that nurse who is in the room a whole lot more than the doctors. Would it be that difficult to get a read on the family by asking the nurse? Because while you as a med student may be asking these things simply for your own information, you are a part of a team. After one doctor asks there are three or four more that will eventually make their way in to the room to ask THE SAME DAMN QUESTIONS!!! Just being there is stressful enough as it is. Answering the same questions over and over again can turn stressful into infuriating.
But I’m digressing and don’t think that I get many Med Student readers to the blog anyway (although I do know of at least one Doctor). I guess I can just sum this whole rambly mess of a blog up with the fact that outside of the hospital I will answer any and all questions. Makes no difference if it’s from friends, family or complete strangers. Fire away! But get us back in the hospital and I have zero patience for stupid or repeated questions.
I didn’t really mean for this post to turn into such a rant but hey that’s what it turned into. Here, I’ll make it up to you with another photo of the boy in his swing last weekend.
Talk to you later.