If you’ve been following along with my writing you would know that I’ve had some atrocious experiences with various care providers over the years. Since becoming pregnant with my first child I’ve been denied my right to informed consent, been bullied, manipulated and lied to by GPs, Obs and midwives. I’ve had paediatricians force formula and medication onto my baby and I despite my baby being healthy. I’ve had a GP tell me that after one year of age breastmilk has no nutritional value. I’ve had GP’s try to push me into giving my baby early solids.
So, when my latest GP advised that my 14 month old son should be seen by a specialist paediatrician I was devastated and seriously terrified. I wasn’t convinced that it was necessary, but went along with it because I didn’t really want to have to go to the effort of finding yet another GP.
They asked about his eating - tick!
Despite having private health cover I opted to go public because I figured there’d be a longer wait list, giving me more time to prepare myself and if public is better for maternity care then maybe the same holds true for paediatrics.
The original appointment ended up being cancelled due to the doctor being sick and I wondered if that was a sign from the universe, but I allowed them to reschedule. Every day I talked it over with myself – risks of cancelling, risks of going. Would it be worth it? I felt like a “hostage” like I HAD to go along, but I wasn’t going to be happy about it, but I wasn’t happy with that feeling. In the end I decided that given the risk of coeliac disease the benefits of going outweighed the risks. I was super prepared to defend my position and just prayed I didn’t have a panic attack as soon as I walked in.
We arrived at the hospital in one piece, but with me still questioning. Upon hearing the nurse talking with someone else about vaccination (we didn’t get the Varicella vaccine for either of the kids) I freaked out a little and steeled myself for the battle ahead. We got over that hurdle, got the little dude weighed and measured and settled in to wait for the doctor with me wondering what would happen if we just wandered on out and went for ice cream instead.
We got called into the doctor’s office and were introduced to the student who was going to do the consult with the doctor watching on. First question: “What can we do for you today?” Me: “Well I was referred here by my GP because my son is small.” “So you have concerns about his weight?” “No. I think that his weight is perfectly fine. The GP had concerns and I agreed to the referral.”
They asked about his social development - tick!
Now…That was rather a bit combative of me. Having decided that flight was not an option I went with fight and hope we all survive. And with any other doctor things could have gone horribly from there. Very professionally we moved straight into the questions. Which all went well. The student did appear a little nervous, but did a good job (in my opinion!). He asked if my son was still being breastfed – something that the GP had not asked at all since we started seeing her at one year of age. Well there’s a tick and a glimmer of hope! The doctor asked the student to explain the percentile chart to me, and with her quick comment of “I know that you know what the chart means I just want to see how he explains it” I was being won over. She then asked if we knew what the major issue is with the chart and while the student stumbled on that a bit I was able to pipe up “it’s based on formula fed babies”. When the doctor told me that she was presently putting the values into the correct WHO chart for breastfed children I fell a little bit in love and my head started to spin a little.
Evidence based care? From a hospital? Well blow me down – I did not see that one coming!
I was completely astounded at the quality of care that we received. The doctor obviously worked out that I didn’t want to be there and instead of getting defensive and snarky she worked out a way to win me over. I watched her talk through all the possibilities with the student and was exceptionally pleased to see that her respect for her patients was obviously transferrable to her students. She never talked down to him – even when he made a couple of small errors. She very openly displayed trust in me, as the mother and as the expert in my own child. And she related as well to the kids – who were being rather rowdy – as she did to the adults.
They forgot to ask if there is a possibility that he's half monkey.
In the end I felt assured that her recommendations were reasonable and evidence based. I felt reassured that my son was safe – despite him being sent for a blood test and also a heart scan referral. I understood the reasons for the tests being recommended. I felt comfortable asking questions.
I came out feeling empowered and confident as a mother.
And THAT my friends is what good care does. Regardless of whether you are seeing an obstetrician, a midwife, a paediatrician, an oncologist or your local GP, a good care provider leaves you feeling safe, empowered and confident in your abilities to make good decisions.
So thank you doctor for giving me back my confidence and for reassuring me that, while our health care system may be broken, not all the people working in it are.
And while I'm at it I'd also like to give a shout out to the pathology people who did a freaking awesome job with little dude's first blood test!
My niece is still breastfeeding her small son and he is almost 3 years old. They like to put people in boxes and if you don't fit then instead of saying, he is healthy so what if he is small, they try and medicalise you as they see you as not quite right. So glad your faith was renewed but so sad you had a bad time with maternity care. Things have got to change and bloggers like you will pave the way.