Thursday, December 6, 2012

Take Two New Parents and Call Me in the Morning

When I was in medical school and faced with the BIG DECISION (i.e. which field of medicine to choose) I was really torn. I was one of those nerds who loved (almost) every medical rotation. I skipped from one field to the next and fell in love each time. While rotating through OB/GYN, I thought I had found my home. Until I realized I only wanted to follow the baby after he/she was born, not the mother. I would hang out with the Pediatricians in the delivery room, examining the squirming, wet little tadpole of a baby and drag my feet back to the delivery table when the Obstetrician called me over to stitch/clean/put lady parts back together.
I loved the idea of Pediatrics because children are so innocent. Unlike adults, when children get sick it is usually not due to self-sabotage with illicit drugs and drinking and unprotected sex. I felt this would keep me motivated throughout my career and stave off the unfortunate onslaught of resentment and anger that doctors can often feel toward their patients.
However, I worried about choosing Pediatrics for life. I feared that I would miss that adult connection and conversation that I experienced in every other rotation. As I delved further into my exploration of Pediatrics, it became clear that even though the child is the primary patient, Pediatricians largely treat the parents. So it was cemented -- I could work with the babies and talk to the adults! My cake was had and eaten.
But it isn't always puppies and rainbows in Pediatrics. The most frustrating component for me is the part I thought I'd appreciate the most -- the parents. Namely, the bad parents. Throughout my residency training there were stand-out stories that still haunt me to this day: parents leaving their sick children in ERs, abandoning them in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit when times got tough, abuse cases, neglect, Munchhausen syndrome by proxy, etc.
And now that I am in training in Pediatric Endocrine, I am especially pained by the less than stellar families of children with diabetes. There are parents that lie to my face about how often they give their small children insulin injections, parents that make up blood sugar numbers and submit them to us, parents that do not bother to find the time/way to bring their child in for important blood tests or appointments.
I was very well-practiced in lying to my family and my Endocrinologist as an adolescent -- it was calculated and intentional. But my parents were absolutely stricken with grief and anguish and worry. I was always so angry with them for "nagging" and not being able to "let it go." I am SO LUCKY to have parents that weren't willing to let it go. Because of my personal experience, I naively thought that it was going to be only the children/teens who tried to lie and deceive. It is appalling to witness that parents -- adults -- are doing this, too.
So in a perfect world, after writing prescriptions for insulin and test strips, I would be able to write a prescription for a new set of caring, honest, hard-working, well-intentioned parents. It's just too bad insurance companies would never be able to cover "priceless."

1 comment:

  1. This is so sad. I don't want to think these parents exist. I hope they are rare.