Thursday, February 14, 2008

Letter #27

Dear Future Physician,

Thank you. Thank you for caring enough about your fellow man that you chose to become a physician. As a parent in the medical profession, and as the parent to a "medically complicated" child, I understand some of what has prompted you to become a physician. You have a genuine concern for others, and need to make things right.

My biggest piece of advice to you is this: never discount a mother's (or father's) intuition. While I respect that you have a job to do; a job that you take seriously, this is my child. If I say that something isn't right, or tell you "this is not normal", please do not dismiss me as a frantic parent who is overreacting. I am frantic. I very well may be overreacting. But this is my baby. And something is not normal. Help me understand what is going on, ask questions that may help me think in a different direction, explain to me WHY you feel that your diagnosis is correct. Do not tell me, "You are just a mother. You could not possibly know something is wrong." I have been told this by a physician, and I almost punched her.

My child is not your only concern; you have many patients. But while you are in an exam room with me and my child, please act as if my child is your only patient for the time you spend with us. Examine my child, talk to my child, tell my child what you are doing. Do not speak harshly to my child, or promise that something won't hurt when you know very well it will.

Please understand that while I am a "medical mom" who has pushed IV fluids through her child's central line, placed a naso-gastric tube properly a million times, has prepared TPN, who knows what a paracentesis is, who has seen no less than 8 liters of fluid drained from her child's abdomen (not at one time, but still 8 liters from a three-month-old!)...I am still a mom. I love my child, and hate to see anything hurt my child. Let me remain in the room to help calm my child, but don't scoff at my tears. It hurts to see a catheter inserted into my child's side, and to see you press on my child's abdomen to remove ascites. If it takes six NICU nurses, three flight nurses, and four surgeons to finally place one IV in my child's head, I am going to cry. But I don't want to leave my child's side.

Have compassion. I think that is almost as essential as the piece of paper that declares you have successfully completed the degree of Medical Doctor.


Laurie C.
Mom to Anthony, Living Donor Liver Transplant Recipient
Four years old, four years post-transplant, and living life to the fullest!

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