Annuals and Anxiety

Recently, Eddie had his annual well-child check-up with his pediatrician. This is the only medical appointment that sneaks up on me every year. Eddie has to see a specialized physician every three months so I never really feel like he is short on doctor visits. I understand that checking in with the pediatrician is important, but it always brings up old feelings and sometimes new issues.

The thing that I have always hated most about these annual check-ups is the ritual of running through developmental milestones. Since the time Eddie was nine months old he has missed virtually everything on the list. His first doctor insisted on going through them every time no matter what. I’m sure there could have been liability issues if he skipped it, but after saying “no, he doesn’t/ can’t do that” two dozen times I could never help but feel beaten and depressed.

Eddie has had his current doctor for two years and he also has gone through the milestones. At this latest appointment, I was met with a happy surprise. He brought out the 6-yr-old fact sheet, looked it over, and stated, “This probably isn’t relevant.” Thank you. I was prepared for the onslaught, but did not have to go through it. I was able to laugh over some of the safety concerns for 6-yr-olds and how they’d apply to Eddie. A moment that often has me in tears had me grinning. All I can do is embrace Eddie for who he is and not get wrapped up in who he isn’t.

The second dreaded part of the exam came up next, “Do you have any concerns?” If you have a child like Eddie, you understand the weight of this question. If I bring up something new, I bring upon Eddie more testing and appointments and I bring upon myself more stress. If I don’t bring up a concern, I am left questioning my judgment and will probably call his doctor next week anyway.

So, I opened my mouth and expressed our worries about Eddie’s foot and hip structure and his inability to walk independently. He has been in physical therapy for 5 ½ years and wears foot orthotics but his gait is still terrible and he won’t walk alone. After a quick exam, we decided to move forward with x-rays, orthopedic consults, and a trip to our nearest Shriner’s Hospital. This is what I knew would happen but really I’m surprised it wasn’t addressed sooner.

I think with kids like Eddie, there are so many caretakers, that crucial items are easily overlooked. All the doctors on a child’s “team” often assume another doctor is addressing an issue when they aren’t. Parents feel like the “team members” will say something if they think there is a problem, so if it isn’t mentioned, great. It is obvious how things slip through the cracks.

I was recently asked who managed all of Eddie’s care and which doctor would be the best source of global information for my son. I confidently stated, “That would be me.” If there is a problem, it is up to me and Eddie’s dad to have it addressed. Eddie counts on us to take care of him and there is no way we are going to let him down. It is true that we have always liked adventures; so, off we go traveling down another new road titled “Orthopedic Impairment.”