There was a time when doctors and I had a pretty chill relationship. It went a little something like this: I self-diagnose and don’t go to see them unless my illness becomes debilitating.
Those were great times.
Now that I have a child, I feel it is my duty to confirm my own suspicions by checking my own thorough research against their vast medical knowledge. This is a problem for the medical community because I’ve become somewhat of a nuisance.I Am Basically A Doctor.
When your child gets sick, step one in the first aid process is to Google it. Let’s be honest, any self-respecting person Googles their illness before going into the doctor’s office. I take it to the next level and spend a few hours going over every possible condition that Hazel could have, just to make sure I’m fully prepared for the appointment. You see, I like to think of my doctor visits as more of a collaboration between equals, and I like to be prepared.
When Hazel was a few weeks old, she threw up for the first time. So, obviously, we went to the doctor. He had to pull out a little book to tell me about a rare condition that sometimes causes vomiting in babies. I was able to list all of the other symptoms of this condition and rule it out before he could find it in the index. Boom. Just call me Dr. Mom.
No Time For Banter.
Sometimes the doctor tries to make small talk with me. Usually it centers around my accent- why are you in the UK, blah blah blah. Under normal circumstances, I like people to ask me about my life- it’s one of the perks of being an expat- but at the doctor’s office there is no time for this kind of chit-chat.
It’s a problem because I arrive for my appointment armed with a myriad of questions and well-researched hypotheses to discuss and the doctor wants to know if Chicago really is a windy city (Doctor, if you’re reading this- it’s called the windy city because the politicians are full of hot air and has nothing to do with the weather. Maybe you should also spend some time on Wikipedia before our next meeting).
I know that they’re people too and maybe they’re just reaching out for a human connection, but they’ll have to do it with someone else because I only get 15 minutes in there and you better believe we are going to spend that amount of time talking about all of the scary things people say on Mumsnet message boards.
No Doctor Could Ever Live Up To My Expectations
The first thing I do when I walk into a doctor’s office is look around to make sure it is clean enough.
It is never clean enough.
I want to walk into a doctor’s office that looks like an Apple store- no stacks of paper, clean, white surfaces and nothing but a doctor, his tools and his computer (manufactured after 2010). No personal belongings like regular-people coats or backpacks either. I’d prefer the doctor to be wearing blue or turquoise scrubs under a white coat, though I’d accept business-casual attire as long as the white coat is visible somewhere in the office to confirm the doctor’s identity. Definitely no coffee cups- empty or otherwise. I’ll allow a bottle of water as long as it is closed, un-blemished and at least halfway full. No personal effects like family pictures that might distract him from the job at hand.
Next, I’d like the doctor to be in the process of or just finishing washing his hands. I don’t like to have to trust that he washed his hands after the last patient- I want to see him drying them on a paper towel (absolutely no reusable towels) as proof. The doctor will also need clean, short nails and if it’s a girl, her hair should be in a ponytail. If the doctor is a man and his hair is long enough to be in a ponytail, I abort the visit immediately.*
I’d Like Them To Pretend A Little Bit.
Doctors rarely panic. I’m sure this is considered a good trait in the industry, but sometimes I’d like them to at least pretend a little bit to make me feel less like a hysterical mom and more like an appropriately concerned parent. I pretend that their credentials outweigh mine every time I go in, so I feel like they should return the favor.
I took several trips to the doctor’s office during the first few weeks of my daughter’s life, and during this time it became clear to me that they were not taking things as seriously as I was. Doctors don’t seem to panic because your child’s cry sounded more high-pitched than usual or their poo was a strange shade of green. They try to hide their annoyance or, at best, amusement when I come through the door with worries about a new freckle (it looked like the beginnings of a bruise and could have been deep vein thrombosis), but I would also appreciate some theatrical medical book scanning and perhaps a consult with another doctor before being assured that my child is completely fine.