The Who’s pediatrician is sick. This isn’t news to us and I’ll ask for your forgiveness ahead of time because I have a feeling that this post will end up making me sound like I am blaming her for having cancer. Or forgetting that she and her family are really the ones who are suffering. Neither of those things is true. This is, however, the second time that we’ve been blindsided by her absence. I blame her staff for not caring for her patients by letting us know what is going on. But also — I blame myself for needing so much care.
We’re flying by the seat of our pants doing this whole parenting thing. M* and I have good instincts and we’re relatively practiced after 8 years of keeping The Who alive. But everything he goes through — every stage, phase, growth spurt, struggle, success — is new. It’s the first time. We have one kid. Everything we’re doing is novel. Every time is a first time. And although I trust us and the choices we make, I really rely on the once-a-year check-in with someone who has known The Who since he was three years old. Someone who has seen him through stitches on his face, minor surgery, migraine headaches, allergies, and head colds. Someone who knows him. Who knows me. Who sat and talked to me about whether or not to send him to kindergarten early, who took what she knew about The Who and combined it with all that she knew about raising four children up through the same school system in the same town.
Even though technically, she takes care of him, she also takes care of me.
The Who — knock wood — is not a sick kid. We are incredibly lucky to be able to say that the only time we have had to step foot in his doctor’s office in the past twelve months was to get his annual flu shot. Most of his yearly visits are uneventful. She talks to him, examines him, checks in with me, and then sends us on our way. I rarely, if ever, have much that I need to talk to her about. This year, however, I had a growing list. Eight years old has brought with it a host of small concerns — none of them major, but each of them something new. Something I’m sure his doctor has seen before either in her own kids or the many patients she sees. I was desperate to get some insight into the things that m* and I seem to only be able to guess at and suppose about. I was imagining that his doctor might have a heart-to-heart with him the way that people who care for you do. Help him understand things that m* and I can’t seem to get to penetrate. I was eagerly awaiting this day.
I pulled The Who out of school early this afternoon, got us to the appointment on time, and as I was filling out some paperwork in the waiting room, I realized that I had heard many voices coming from the office, but none belonging to his doctor. I started to wonder. And that’s when I noticed the letter posted unceremoniously on the desk, thanking some other doctor for taking her place while she received treatment. Again, I do not blame her for having cancer. Obviously. And I don’t blame her for taking time off to take care of herself. I wouldn’t even blame her if she left the practice completely. But I do blame her for not insisting that her patients be kept in the loop. It’s 2016. We all have email. We all have telephones. The good ole USPS still works last I checked. If I had received a message or a letter or an email letting me know that my child’s primary care physician (who, by the way, works in a solo practice) would not be around, I’d have made a different appointment. I’d have waited for her. And instead of feeling like she didn’t care who saw her patients or how her patients felt about it (which I know is not the case) I’d have felt respected. Instead, I left the office without The Who being seen, tears prickling in my eyes. Disappointed, angry, frustrated, and actually? Actually, scared. Scared that cancer was going to barge into the middle of everything and steal away the only person I trusted to help guide us as we try to take care of our boy.
I hope she is ok. I hope she is getting the best treatment available and that she is going to recover and be well — for herself and for her family. I hope she is able to come back to work because I know that she really wants to. And in the meantime, we will wait, even though it may be the hardest thing for me to do.