The Lowest Priority

Raise your hand if 99% of the doctors appointment you’ve been to since having kids have been for them.

I’m totally guilty of this. I spend at least a portion of each week running to this appointment or that therapy session for Vista. And I would never, ever, ever forget her nightly meds.

But when it comes to doctors appointments for myself, or even remember to take my daily dose of happy, it sort of falls into the ‘I’ll get to that eventually pile’.

I’ve had a doctors visit on my to-do list for the past two-and-a-half years. It just hasn’t been that big a priority. It’s not like I was dying or anything. I simply am getting headaches and migraines more often. It’s been like that since I first got pregnant with Vista. But, in the grand scheme of things, it just wasn’t life altering enough to actually bother with the hassle of organizing a visit to the doctor for myself.

The past few month have been worse, so I finally got my act together and made an appointment.

Sitting in the office today, I felt sort of silly whining about headaches. I mean, really? But he nodded, raised an eyebrow when I mentioned how persistent they were and the occasional dizzy spell. He whipped out the handy-dandy blood pressure cuff and took a reading, and then a second one…. and a third one to confirm the first two. 150 over 90. That? Is not good. And that would probably explain the headaches.

I used to have perfect 120/80 pressure. But once I got pregnant with Vista, my blood pressure started creeping up. The day I finally went into labor it hit 160/115.

But after I had her, I got busy with new baby stuff. And there just didn’t seem to be time for anything else.

I’m realizing now I should have made the time. And I know most parents are guilty of that. We neglect ourselves in favor of our children.

So, I walked out of the doctors today with a prescription for blood pressure meds, two prescriptions for migraine meds, and a lab requisition form with almost every other box checked off. Evidently my doctor thinks draining every last drop of blood from my body will somehow help things.

But I will give him points for being thorough. He wants to make sure there’s nothing else I’ve neglected. So I’m getting the full panel – Electrolytes, glucose, cholesterol, vitamin B12, vitamin D, thyroid, protein, and a bunch of others I have no idea what they are for. Oh, and a bonus ECG, just for the fun of it.

I think we need to remind ourselves every once in a while that our own health is just as important as our kids. It doesn’t help them if we leave things too long and end up sick ourselves. So the next time you think ‘Oh…I’ll get to it…eventually…”, just go do it. That’s the voice of personal experience speaking.

 The Lowest Priority

The Good Doctor

Just a quick Vista update for those who care.

So… we had an appoint with our family doctor on Monday to talk about Vista’s inhalers and I also wanted to talk to him about some of her specialist flagging some of her behaviors as autism markers.

Visiting Dr.F is always interesting. First of all he is the ONLY doctor that Vista likes. She will let him check her, and even pick her up, with no screaming and crying. And then there’s the fact that Dr.F totally think the sun rises and sets with Vista. You see, she was his very first patient in his practice (in fact before he even had a practice). He was her doctor when she was in the Special Care Nursery (a step down from NICU), when she was born. And so he’s always taken a special interest in her.

I love the fact that she’s so relaxed with him. It makes a visit to the doctor so much easier. And I also like the fact that I feel like he listens to me and doesn’t dismiss me as a neurotic mother. That’s a rare and valuable quality in a doctor these days.

The first thing we discussed were her inhalers. And the fact that, yes, the doc at urgent care had prescribed her an inhaler that was way above her age range (thank you Dr. Lori for bringing that to my attention).  We confirmed that she doesn’t need to be on inhalers full time, but when she gets a cold, she’ll go on them for a week or two to keep her airways open.  I’m happy with that arrangement and it seems to work for Vista.

Then we talked about some of the autism makers we’re seeing.  Stuff like lining up toys, counting things over and over and over, and other OCD quirks she has.  He agreed that it was probably time to get her in for a formal screening, so he’s made a referral to the Children’s Hospital in the city.  He’s not overly concerned, especially because he’s thrilled with where she is with talking and walking in light of her brain issues.  He said  that any autism she may have would be mild and it may just be her quirky self.

Before we left, I asked him if he had received a call from Children’s Services back in December.  Surprise, surprise, they didn’t call him either.  That’s 3 names I gave them and they called none of them.  Unreal.  I still have to check with Vista’s pediatrician to see if they talked to him.  What I found interesting is Dr.F guessed within 2 seconds of hearing my story who it was that had reported me.  He’s asked me to gather some information about the CS investigation and pass it on to him and then he is going to file a formal complaint against the pharmacy (and pharmacist) who filed the report with CS.  I’m apparently not the only person who has had problems with that pharmacy.

I have to say, I came away from this appointment feeling good about where things are and very supported.  Having a good doctor, when you have a child with issues, can really make such a huge difference.

As we were walking out of the office, we ran into Dr.F’s wife who had brought him some coffee.  The Dr introduced us and his wife immediately looked at Vista and said “Oh!  Is this Vista Avalon?”.   I must have had a “how the fuck do you know my daughter’s middle name” look on my face because she started laughing and explained that Dr. F talks about Vista all the time and they both just love her name, so it’s always stuck with her.  Huh.

The biggest surprise of the whole visit, though, came with Vista gave Dr. F a hug before we left.  And not just one of her ‘I’ll sort of lean into you and let you touch me’ hugs.   I’m talking about an arms around his neck, squeezing hug.  Apparently even she knows a good doctor when  she sees one.

Just call me Dr. Mom

I’m beginning to realize that last winter we really lucked out.

Vista was for the most part healthy and didn’t come down with a lot of colds or sickness.

This year… *sigh*  Is a different story.

As soon as she gets over one cold, we get a week off before she starts getting  sick again.

Bil and I are so over it.

v asthma spacer Just call me Dr. MomThe whining,  the hysterics every time she sneezes, the being up all night because her nose is runny and that is an absolute crisis in her world.

And with every round of being sick has come a round of croup.  Except I don’t think it’s croup.  I think  it’s the start of asthma.

So with this latest round of sickness she’s back on inhalers.

There are a few things you learn very quickly when you have a child who is chronically ill.  That is to trust your instincts, trust that you know your child better than any doctor, and that doctors are not infallible.

I spend a large part of my days, when something new comes up, reading medical journals online.  Researching, cross referencing, eliminating possibilities.

When Vista was little, and her doctors insisted that she was fine and just slow to develop because she was a preemie, this research got them to agree to do an MRI (against their better judgment – they were just humoring me, you understand).   But mother’s instinct didn’t fail me and the doctors were shocked when her scan revealed a brain malformation and missing pieces.

And when I suggested when she was only 3 months old, that she might have a milk allergy, which was summarily dismissed by all her doctors… well, I should have listened to my mother’s instinct then.  By the time she was a year old, her GI specialist grudgingly agreed that she might have an *mild intolerance*.  Months of food diaries and elimination diets revealed a severe milk allergy.  Bad enough that she couldn’t even eat beef and a kiss on the cheek from someone who had just had a drink of coffee with creamer in it would leave an angry red mark on her skin.

Now I’m preparing  to do battle on the asthma front.

This time I have my own experience to draw from, though.

As a kid, I was diagnosed with croup over and over.

I had chronic bronchial infections.  There were years I was on antibiotics 11 months out of the year.

But it wasn’t until I was a teenager that a doctor finally shook his head, handed me an inhaler, and sent me for asthma testing, which confirmed  the diagnosis.

See, the problem was, even in the midst of an asthma attack, I don’t get the tell tale bronchial spasms that are what most doctors use to diagnose asthma.

After Vista’s coughing attack at Christmas that left her breathless and blue, we found out she doesn’t get bronchial spasms either. But the attack she had was a carbon copy of what my asthma attacks used to be like.

So, now, once again I am researching, reading, and preparing to make my case before the judge doctor.

Search Me

One of the fun things about website stats is you can find out the search terms people used to find your blog.

Terms like:

  • Evil Dead - I get a ton of hits every day from this one , after I wrote this post.  I guess if you search Google images it’s the first to come up.  Yay me.  Princess Jenn = Evil Dead.  Who knew? Well, I suspect Bil did, because he talks about zombies an awful lot, but still.
  • spanking in the wwe - dude I could not even make this shit up
  • badger arm - how many pages did they have to wade through to find my site by searching that?  I mean, really?  Because I talk about badger arms constantly.  It’s a real passion of mine.
  • i love my bubby karen sept 2009 – Ummm…. yeah.  I got nothing
  • Heather Spohr - I mentioned her one time in one post in passing (it was all good Heather, I promise).  Note to self, put the names of famous bloggers in every post
  • do follow blogs on walk in tubs – I don’t even know what the fuck that means.  Could someone please translate from “I don’t know how to type Google search terms” to English?  That would be great.  Thanks.
  • Baby blood – this would be after the zombies hit my site. WTF??  Who the hell searches for baby blood?  What kind of sicko… OK, you know what, I don’t even want to know.
  • doctor fucking patients – I’m sorry, I think you’ve mistaken me for the other Princess Jenn (warning: NSFW)
  • my mother phucking pictures – there are certain things I don’t want to know about my mom.  This would be one of them
  • miss tard sleep badger – again – I’ve got nothing.  Totally speechless.  But what is with the goddamn badgers?
  • wwe “she bites” – My bark may be worse than my bite, but seriously I’m going to gnaw my arm off, feed it to a badger, while looking at bloody pictures of doctors phucking my mother if these searches don’t stop.

P.S.  I swear I’m not sleeping with anyone at Google.  They just love me for me.

Excuse Me While I Bang My Head Against This Brick Wall

After my post earlier this week about pity parties, what to I find myself doing?  Yeah, because I like to be all hypocritical like that.  Hey, just sticking with my strengths here.

iStock 000002243299XSmall 200x300 Excuse Me While I Bang My Head Against This Brick WallI spent the morning scrubing and disinfecting the bathroom (while scrubing and disinfecting V in the tub) after yet another unexplained puking episode.  They are random, cause unknown.  And doctors can’t be bothered to find out.  We did have a Gastro-Intestinal specialist for V, but she basically shrugged and said “Yeah, she might just be like that until she’s older”.  F*cking super.  Really?  Well in that case, you come to my house and clean up after her, hold her while she sobs, because she’s so goddamn tired of throwing up herself.

After getting V out of the tub and drying her off, 3 hours of her crying non-stop began.  She’s exhausted, but can’t tell me what’s wrong.  I’m frustrated, she’s frustrated.  Nothing distracts her.  I tried singing, telling stories, massages… she just cries.  Again, the doctors shrug and say “She’s kind of a mystery.  We have no idea”.  Well that’s f*cking super.  Then you come over and spend all night, every night, for weeks on end while she bawls her eyes out and screams in pain. And then the hitting starts.  She starts hitting herself over and over and over trying to soothe herself. And you have to restrain her, which just makes the whole thing worse.

I’ve tried to get an appointment with our family doctor.  That call was placed on Monday.  No one ever bothered to get back to me.

I am so sick to death of fighting to try and figure out how I can make my daughter feel better.  I’m not the one with the god damn medical degree here so why am I doing the job of a doctor?

And, yes, we have seriously considered bringing her down to the States.  The only thing holding us back is the fact we haven’t won the lottery lately and a trip like that would be extremely expensive.

I’m officially throwing up my hands and saying I give up.  I don’t know what else I can possibly do at this point.

I’m lucky that I can call Bil at work after an especially impossible day and he’ll try to come home a bit early if he’s able to.

For those women who don’t have a support system like that in place… well…

I told someone once that I could understand how shaken baby syndrome happens.  I get why some women get to the point they end up murdering their children.  I don’t condone it. I would never, ever, in a million years, let that happen.  I just understand how people already teetering on the edge eventually break and take that step over into the horrible.  You can hate me for that. You can stop reading right now.  Feel free to tell me how awful I am in the comments.  But until you’ve gone three weeks without sleep, while rocking and doing everything in your power to calm your child, when even drugging her doesn’t work, and the doctors won’t do anything to help?  Then, and only then, can you judge.

People are always telling me “Just wait til she’s a teenager.”  At this point I’m just trying to make it through the next week.

It’s About Bloody Time

I’m doing the happy dance right now.

We finally got the call today that Vista’s been assigned to a neurologist and we go meet with him on Tuesday (Aug 11). It will be so nice to finally get some of our questions answered. Like could her hydrocephalus be affecting her balance. Should we be concerned about her seizures. Are their any concerns about her bumping her head due to the existing hydrocephalus and brain malformations.

This appointment has been a long time coming. We’ve known since Vista was 6 months old that she had a neurological issue. It took us until she was 18 months to convince the doctor of that and get him to order the MRI. We finally got the MRI in March, results in April and have been waiting, waiting, waiting, since then to get into see a neurologist.

As much as I love the free (most of the time) health care in Canada, if we were in the US we would have seen a specialist months ago. So, say what you will, but give me the option of private health care.

When Phd = Phucking Horrible Doctor

I thought my first post back after BlogHer@Home was going to be a wonderful “we had such a good time, thanks everyone, thanks sponsors” touchy-feely post.  I did sit down to start writing one this morning.

Yeah, that was before my morning turned to crap thanks to a doctor who has her head so far up her ass I’m sure she can see her own tonsils.

A bit of background here.  (And if you don’t like TMI, skip this paragraph).  Vista suffers from chronic constipation and, unfortunately, sometimes her bowels get completely blocked and back up into her stomach, which then causes her to throw up.  A lot.  The past couple weeks we’ve been trying again to slowly ween her off formula and onto rice milk.  The previous two times we tried the switch resulted in a bowel blockage, so we were trying a very slow introduction this time.  Well, it didn’t work.  So we’ve been dealing with a bit of puking the past few days while we get her sorted again.

So… on to idiot doctor story.  We were supposed to have an appointment with Dr.C today to have some assessments done for Vista to try and access some resources in the big city that aren’t available to us, living in a small town.  Half an hour before we were to leave, though, Vista started throwing up.  So I called the doctors office and apologized profusely saying “I’m so sorry.  I know this is short notice, but Vista is throwing up, so there’s no way I can make the hour drive into the city.”

No big deal, right?  Yeah, you would think.  Well receptionist puts me on hold and Dr. C gets on the phone.  I start explaining how sorry I am that I can’t make it in.  But driving with a puking two-year-old is out of the question.  The doc quickly cut me off and what she said next made my blood run cold.

“I don’t think you understand the importance of this appointment.  If you miss this appointment no one is going to want to help you.  And quite frankly, I am deeply, deeply concerned.  It is critical that you make this appointment today”

<insert me trying, once again, to explain the logistics of a one hour drive in a hot truck with a puking child>

“You have a decision to make.  If you decide not to attend this appointment, then I have no choice but to discuss this with **** {the other person we were meeting with to discuss available resources for Vista} and I really feel we’ll have to contact Children’s Services about this.”

<insert me spluttering going ‘Excuse me???? Children’s Services???  For WHAT???>

“You are obviously in denial and I am deeply, deeply concerned.  If you decide not to make this appointment then it shows your refusal to get help for you and your daughter and I feel that Children’s Services will need to be informed”

She signed off the call by telling me that there would be a $50 cancellation fee and would I like to be invoiced for that.

I hung up the phone and promptly started sobbing hysterically.  She was going to call Children’s Services on me??  WTF?  Was I not the mother that stayed by her child’s bedside every night in the hospital?  In fact I’ve never spent more than 6 hours (and never a full night) away from my daughter.  Was I not the mom who pushed the doctors to properly diagnose and treat my daughter’s reflux?  Am I not the mom who’s spent the past year working with specialist of every size, shape, and description working to make sure that all Vista’s milestones are met due to her developmental delays?  Am I not the one who pushed and pushed and finally got an MRI ordered that proved we were right in our suspicion that she had some brain issue causing her delays.  Yeah… And yet you want to call Children’s Services on me?  FOR WHAT?  Fuck you bitch.

We’ve had just recently started the process of switching to a new doctor  (an easy 5minute drive, rather than an hour on the highway).  This new doctor is amazing.  We first met him in the NICU after Vista was born.  He was our favorite resident. So when he told us he was going be starting a family practice in our small town, we were elated.  Unfortunately, due to various factors, that took 2 years.  He’s still managed to see Vista a handful of times over the past two years, and is always great with her.  He also has a background in neuroscience, which is a huge plus for us now with her mid-line brain issues.

So after today’s phone call, I called his receptionist and explained what had happened with the other doc.   My mom came with me and watched V, while Dr. F took his lunch hour to sit down and chat with me about what had happened.  As soon as I mentioned that Vista had been throwing up, he stopped me and asked “Is she OK?  Do you want me to take a look at her?”  I must have looked surprised because his next question was “Didn’t the other doc ask if Vista was OK?”  I realized that at no time had my other doctor even inquired if Vista was alright.  She had absolutely no interest in anything other than us making that appointment.  The reason for this became abundantly clear when Bil called old doc and told her to transfer all our files to Dr.F and the first thing the bitch starts in on is a schedule of fees.  It’s all about the money with her.  Nothing more.

Dr. F listened, took notes, and assured me that I had nothing to worry about.  He had watched Bil and I advocate for Vista in a variety of arenas over the past two years.  If anyone called me from Children’s services I was to direct the call to his office and he would take care of it.  It was so amazing to feel listened to.  Once we were done he walked with me out into the waiting room.  Mom and Vista had gone out to walk around so he grabbed his shoes and told the other patient in the waiting room “Sorry, I’ll be right back.  There’s a little girl I have to say hi to”.  Once we found them, he immediately knelt down to Vista’s level and started talking to her about the flowers she had picked (I don’t even want to know from where) and how pretty they smelled and how they matched her shoes.  He is just such an amazing doctor and we feel so lucky to have found him.

Two doctors. The same medical program from the same university.  One is all about the money.  The other is all about the patients.  Take a guess  who will never see a red cent from me or anyone I know.

*addendum: I’m really, strongly considering filing a formal complaint with our Health Region.  I feel this doctor tried to bully me into an appointment when it was not in the best interest of my child.  Threatening a mother with Children’s Services is just low.  And slimy.  And something no RESPECTABLE doctor would do. *

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