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Dear Pediatrician, Sometimes I Really Hate You

Photograph by Twenty20

Dear Pediatrician,

Sometimes I really hate you.

For someone who went to medical school for eight or more years, why can't you seem to diagnose the most basic medical conditions? Why do I have to tell you the proper treatment for my child's conditions? Why do you always say that my child "just has a cold"? Why are you always trying to convince me that it's normal for my toddler to be constantly sick?

After battling with you for almost 18 months, I've finally figured out the answer to all these questions and couldn't believe how simple it was: It's not your child.

It's not your child and you're so used to seeing so many kids that I feel like you don't take us all seriously. I'm tired of you downplaying very serious matters or dismissing them all together. I'm finally speaking up to demand that you provide the care my daughter deserves. Because, while we may just get a brief 15 minutes together at each appointment, I'm the one who sees every little struggle at home.

You aren’t there for all the nights when I’m standing over my daughter, gently pressing my hand against her chest to make sure she is still breathing.

You aren’t there during the discussions I have with my husband about how we can possibly get our daughter to gain weight. We brainstorm ways to get her to eat more and feel like failures each time she weighs in below the 2nd percentile, for the 20th month in a row.

You aren’t there for the calls I make to my mom in absolute panic over one of your diagnoses that each time has turned out to be a misdiagnosis. You should exercise extreme care when using terms like “birth defect” and scaring me to death, especially when you’re wrong about it.

You know it’s necessary, so why do I have to act like a lunatic to prompt any action from you?

You aren't there for my toddler's heart-wrenching asthma attacks or to see that the inhaler you gave us doesn’t work. Why do we have to try it for another month just to be sure?

You aren’t there in the middle of the night when I’m sitting in my steamy bathroom, slathering Vicks onto my screaming toddler's chest because she's so horribly congested. Time after time, you tell me it’s just a cold. Colds do not last for five months straight, Doc, so get it together. Why does it take me screaming on the phone to get a referral for a specialist? You know it’s necessary, so why do I have to act like a lunatic to prompt any action from you?

The fact is, you aren’t there for any of those things, but I tell you all about them during our visits, so you do know about them. I sincerely wish you could understand how I take seriously everything you tell me in your office, and what a direct impact your words have on my life, marriage and parenting.

My parenting has evolved and changes constantly in response to your recommendations and diagnoses. I parent, to the best of my ability, based on what you think my child should and shouldn’t do, what she can and can't participate in, and what would be best to avoid.

I wish you would take your responsibility more seriously. Your actions are not those of a concerned physician and I have had enough. I'm not above screaming and arguing because I am my child’s best advocate. I will not sit idle while you guess your way through medically treating my kid. You are, after all, employed to save and better lives. So, whatever it takes, I'm going to make sure that you are doing just that.

Sincerely,

A mom who has had it

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