Life as MommyMo

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Seeing clearly

Sam had his five-year-old check-up on Friday. Thanks to several factors over the years, we are more on a mid-way-through-the-year plan for his well visits...

It's now Sunday morning and I'm fairly sure I've still got a hearing loss as a result of this visit. I told Sam in the morning that I'd be picking him up from school early so he could go see the doctor. He immediately asked if he'd be getting any shots. I told him that I wasn't sure. He seemed to take it in stride.

We arrived at the office, and he asked the receptionist if he'd be getting any shots. She said she didn't know. Again, fine with him.

We get into the exam room, and he asks the nurse if he'd be getting any shots. She at first said she didn't know. Then, after his eye exam and blood pressure reading, he asked again. At that point, she reviewed his papers and saw that he was up to date, but had not had a flu shot yet. When I nodded that I did want him to have it, the freaking out began.


It took the doctor a while to come in and finish the visit, for which we were able to have no meaningful conversation, despite the fact that he'd been evaluated for ADHD since we were last there. The nice man took pity on me and just covered the basics, I think.

I did learn that he's grown two inches in the last year and gained four pounds. He's a whopping 37 pounds when dressed now!

I was also quite surprised to see that he failed his vision exam. I never would have guessed that would happen, but I stood there and watched as he consistently confused a circle shape with house and heart shapes. I came home and made an appointment with a pediatric opthalmologist and am guessing we'll end up needing to get him glasses.

The funny part is that his Daddy has terrible vision. If his glasses come anywhere near my face, they give me an instant headache. Sam keeps grabbing them and putting them on. I yell at Rob to not allow that since it's got to be bad for Sam's eyes. Now I'm guessing that they aren't nearly as annoying to Sam as they are to me since he actually needs some help with his vision.

That same afternoon I tried to make an endocrinologist appointment for Rob. A very short version of the current situation is that Rob's experiencing some unusual symptoms related to his thyroid, the likes of which we have not seen since he was diagnosed with cancer 12 years ago. Our family doctor has determined that a good endocrinologist needs to assess him. I, of course, am a little concerned, as is Rob. We're obviously hopeful that nothing major will come of this, but it's scary nonetheless.

Lucky for us, there is a gigantic perk in working for the American Cancer Society in that when I expressed a bit of concern to my boss, I was quickly ushered to the deputy chief medical officer, who completely assessed Rob's symptoms and history and was able to placate me, saying that he was fairly sure there's not a recurrence, but still an endocrine issue that needs addressing. He strongly recommended we see a doctor at Johns Hopkins who is known as the best thryoid cancer expert in the world right now. I called the next day and learned that what we thought was good health insurance isn't recognized by that health system. We still think it's important to get checked out by this doctor, so are going to fork over an obscene amount of money for a consult.

I follow the health care reform debate very closely and recognize that there are many factors involved in what people see as the best plan. I consistently analyze what I'm hearing and still believe that it's a basic human right to have health care, particularly if you live in a country where it is so readily available. I also agree with my pastor who makes the point that Christians are directed to love their neighbors as they love themselves. Ensuring that your neighbor, no matter their financial status, can access health care is a clear example of that directive.

I could not stop thinking of those without insurance or financial resources as I made Rob's appointment. We might as well not have insurance in this case. Luckily, we are able to scrap and sacrifice to afford the consult. Many people might not be so lucky. They might be able to call this fantastic doctor, only to learn that the very best in the field in within their sight, but cannot help them with an issue like a cancer scare (or worse) because they cannot afford to pay for the visit.

I do not believe that is right.

I have been pondering exactly how I want to change the world in the name of little Anna, who so beautifully changed the world in her short 80 days on this Earth. I am coming to the conclusion that I need to find a way to be more actively involved in helping people get health care. I will continue to be involved in the advocacy side of this, but I want to find a way to more practically provide help as well.


Melissa said...

Karen, I'll be praying that Rob gets a quick (and easy) diagnosis. I know that until you know for sure, it will be hard to wait.

Camden is the same way about shots - he SCREAMS. I told Brian he's got to take him from now on. The dr. also had some concerns about his sight - he didn't fail the test, but his eyes have regressed some since last year so we're supposed to keep an eye on it. I bet Sam is going to look adorable in glasses!