Thursday, February 14, 2008

Letter #24

Dear Future Physician:

Thank you for deciding to dedicate your life to helping others!

My children have both had issues, and I am diabetic so we have had a lot of experience with doctors. My son was born at 35 weeks and was not breathing when he came out. The doctors told me nothing, my husband disappeared to be with our son, and I was scared. Don’t be afraid to talk to your patients! Let us know what is going on, and if you really don’t know what’s going on be honest. But then find out! While my son was in the NICU for 5 weeks, doctors’ communication was horrible. I had no place to stay near the hospital, so I had to go home every night and wait for my husband to be done with work so we could go see our son. The doctors treated us like scum and acted as if we had no right or clue. Had I known then what I know now, it would have gone differently… but ultimately the doctors didn’t care what we thought. Please don’t under-estimate the value of parents. My daughter was a surprise and we found out that she had hydrocephalus at our first prenatal ultrasound. I found the best doctors during this time. There was one that was brutally honest, but I still appreciated his honesty. We had many tests and were uncertain about our daughter’s future. We were scared. But the compassion shown to us was amazing and it got me through. My daughter was born via a planned c-section at 39 weeks and things could not have gone better. The NICU staff at that hospital was phenomenal! They communicated well, respected my husband and I, and tried to involve our son even though he couldn’t go into the NICU to see his new sister. She had surgery at 7 days of age. She has had many more surgeries, but we have found doctors that respect us and keep us informed. My daughter’s neurosurgeon is wonderful because he uses my name! Please, when you speak to parents, know their names (even Mr. or Mrs. Soandso would be better than “mom” or “dad”). We now travel to another state to see an epileptologist for my daughter’s epilepsy because they care. We drive 900 miles one way to see them!

Ultimately you need to remember that parents are the eyes and ears “in the trenches”. We know what happens on a day to day basis, we know what is “normal” for our children, we have instincts and feelings that are indescribable. And now that my daughter is older, she appreciates having a doctor take the time to talk to her. She likes to know what is going to happen before it happens. She likes to know she matters. As a doctor, be human. Be willing to admit you don’t know everything and you will learn more than you can imagine!

Good luck!


Mom to Jack (age 5) and Megan (age 3 ½)

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