Every time I take one of my children to see a specialist I am reminded of my first time going to see one with Jake when he was about 4½ months old. Jake, who was 5 weeks premature, cried for the first 4months 13days 16hrs 32min of his life (straight). He would only sleep in an upright position and we found that his car seat was the best option. We would keep it in the Snap n’ Go and park him into bed every night.
When he finally cut back on the tears, it was like walking off a tarmac and into a library- I could think again. I noticed his head looked a little flat and took him to a pediatric neurologist. Dr. Gore or Dr. Bore as I prefer to call her, examined Jake for plagiocephaly, or “flathead,” to see if he should be fitted for a helmet. Yes…that’s correct, a helmet. Looking back on our visit, it seems all of her comments were excessively vague and rather benign, but somehow she managed to coax me into a state of agitation.
Dr. Bore is one of those people who is impressed with her own brilliance, and likes to speak unexcitedly as she tries to overwhelm you with her superior knowledge. Silently, Dr. Bore waited as I changed and then undressed Jake, never uttering a word until I was safely sitting in my chair. This reminded me of the way my father behaved when he had some horrific news to impart which could be something as tragic as selling the family car. “Jenny, are you sitting down?” As if I might faint upon hearing such horror.
With Dr. Bore, however, I sensed the silence was not some kind of soap-opera-esque melodrama. It was more like: I-do-not-waste-breath-on-distracted-ears kind of silence. I literally sat there with fingers crossed trying to remember the rules governing such situations. Do you cross both hands for extra luck? No, no I think one cancels the other out, right? And does that make it zero luck, or does it skip right to bad luck? Oh man, now what do I do? Of course, my toes! I uncomfortably fidget, contorting my fingers into a series of svengali half-crosses in what seems to be verging on an epileptic seizure to erase the obsessive thoughts echoing throughout my head. Speak lady so I can stop torturing myself!
After a long exaggerated sigh, Dr. Snore begins to expound on the two theories as to why his head is flat. The first being a severe complication in which the skull plates prematurely fuse causing the brain to grow out in any way possible- the side, the top, the nose…which could not only lead to deformity, but brain damage as well.
I am about to cry. Why is she speaking volumes on this subject? Just say, this is not the case with your son. JUST SAY THAT! I get frustrated with my vain attempts at telepathy, and interrupt her.
“Do you have any reason to believe that’s his diagnosis?”
“I’m just going through the possibilities, please allow me to continue.”
Oh, I’m sorry my desire to rule out a gruesome existence for my son has gotten in the way of your neurology-for-dummies lecture. Please don’t let my nervous breakdown shorten your diatribe. The sound of the paper bag I’m breathing into helps to drown out her voice until I hear, “…and the second and most likely possibility is called positional flatness. This is caused by spending too much time sleeping or being on ones back.
Hello? Is anyone home? I told you he spent the last 4 months sleeping in his car seat; doesn’t that ring a bell? Why do specialists always insist on discussing the horrible and unlikely option first? I should probably just go now, but I decide to prolong this torture…
“Well you’ve seen a lot of heads, is his severe?”
“Look his head is flat. I’m not going to tell you that something flat is round. Its flat.”
Gee thanks Magellan. Do you get the impression I have a 5th grade education? What tipped you off the finger crossing fiasco?
She goes on to check his tone and development. All that anguish and I get to stay longer for a freebie, what a perk.
“He has poor muscle tone, he doesn’t roll he doesn’t tilt, he doesn’t grab…what does he do?”
“Hmm…tsk, tsk…just keep an eye on him for the next couple months.”
Really, I should do that? Cause us uneducated folk we like to kick our kids out of the nest at say …I don’t know…5months. “Fly free little birdie, and go earn some money it’s time to pay Momma back.” But if you think we should wait…
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