The Millionth Doctor’s Visit

OK, so it’s probably not the millionth time we have been to a doctor’s appointment but it certainly feels like it could be. Many of them as pointless as the ones that came before and this one was certainly no different. This time we were being ‘followed up’ by a doctor with a specialism in genetics.

Back when J was visiting the consultant paediatrician following on from his birth there were many tests carried out and theories discussed. One of these was a possible genetic cause for his difficulties. He was referred to see a specialist in this area, as well as many other referrals to various professional in the hope that someone would be able to determine a cause for his developmental delay.

Initially a wide range of blood and urine tests were carried out, head measurements taken, bone scans and many other tests. So far none of these have returned any positive results and no one is any further forward in determining a genetic cause for J’s difficulties. For me this is no surprise, as I know his issues are not genetic but a direct result of the difficulties surrounding his birth and the few days afterwards. Nonetheless I submit to the will of the doctors who are keen to prove me wrong and we attend these appointments. J must feel the same way that I do now about these visits, we just have slightly different ways of showing it. I tend to patently ask questions and listen to the vague, non-commital answers and wondering why I bothered to come in the first place. J however makes them pay for having him attend. He hasn’t seen this particular doctor for about two years and he was a lot smaller and more compliant then.

Today’s appointment was in a small room with a desk, chair, computer and medical bed, as well as a variety of other objects which are fascinating for a child. Upon entering the room he emptied out the bag of trains and cars I had come prepared with onto the bed, where they would remain untouched for the remainder of our visit. He then proceeded to move a lamp up and down, laughing as it squeaked, before finding the controls for the bed and pressing it up and down too. After removing him from this and trying to distract him with trains he then moved on to trying to work the blood pressure monitor, he enjoyed the sound it made as the air puffed up the cuff. Once he was removed from this he then tried to press buttons on the printer and keys on the computer. The room seemed to have no end of wonderful things for him to explore! To top it all off his doctor uses a wheelchair and J just loves wheels. His final ‘play’ was with the wheels as he tried to spin them round and round. To be fair to him, most of the doctors he visits have a little box of toys; new things which he can explore and it helps to keep him occupied, at least to begin with. Perhaps a lesson this doctor might take from the experience today is to make sure she has some toys in future.

For me the positive from this appointment is that this doctor thinks she no longer needs to see him, unless in the future we think it’s necessary. I wonder if it’s that she’s run out of tests or if it was the mere experience of the whirlwind that is J which helped her to make her decision. Either way, it’s one less set of appointments we need to attend where we are no further forward at the end!

Some useful tips for taking your child to doctor’s appointments:

Doctor: Preparing for a Visit – NAS

Visiting the GP – Ambitious About Autism

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