Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Doctors are our Friends

Today I'm bringing in my little Princess for her 6 year check up. The last time we went, I promised there would be no shots, but I was wrong. So when I tell her that I promise there are no shots today, I hope that I am right. She is very afraid of doctors. Despite the fact that her dad works in the health care field, she has no faith in doctors. She says that doctors only hurt her. Which isn't true but I can see why she would think that. When she was 3, we brought her to an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor to check her vocal cords. She had a very raspy, hoarse voice which sounded cute but didn't seem normal. They needed to visualize the vocal cords to make sure there weren't any polys or growths causing the hoarseness. The doctor explained that they could do it under sedation but because of her age it would require her to go to a different facility and it would be more involved of an exam, or he could do it right there in the office, which would be slightly uncomfortable for her but it would be quick and without the worries of complications from anesthesia. I decided to go for the quick peek. It took three nurses to hold her down and keep her still while the doctor inserted a scope in her throat. She didn't like it one bit. Thinking back now, I think it might have been better to have her sedated, it would have been less traumatic but slightly riskier. It's a tough call. It turned out she had no growths which was wonderful news, but now she had no trust and a strong dislike for all doctors.

Which included dentists, and any other person wearing a white coat. Then the next time we visited the dentist was a disaster. First of all, she remembered the throat doctor torture chamber and was very reluctant to let anyone with a white coat near her. Incidentally they wanted to take full x-rays. She wouldn't open her mouth for anything. They ended up not taking the x-ray but were irritated that she wouldn't cooperate. There was really nothing anyone could have said to convince her to put those x-ray cards in her mouth. I tried to explain to the hygienist why my daughter was not cooperating but they seemed to feel that it was my apprehension that caused my daughter to be afraid. The hygienist needed to understand that a first time dental visit after a bad experience should be low key for a child who is so sensitive. Prior to this visit, I tried to be as upbeat and positive as I could and prepare my daughter ahead of time for what would happen at the dentist visit. It would have been nice for them to be a little more understanding, and to want to make the experience a positive one. I think that doctors and dentists should know that children have a long memory where pain is concerned.

Then, we had to go in the next year for an ear infection, and the doctor (who didn't really seem like she knew what she was doing) perforated the ear drum when she inserted the otoscope. She said it was only "scratched" but there was blood coming out of my daughter's ear. The doctor said it was because she moved while the scope was in there.

So now each time we go to the doctor where anything needs to be inserted in her ear or mouth, she just stiffens up and you can see that there is no trust. At her last check up, she was sitting on the table just trying not to cry. I could tell she was genuinely afraid, but trying to be brave. It breaks my heart that a few bad experiences have made such a lasting impression on her.

We do have a great pediatrician, she has a great bedside manner and she understands that my daughter is an extremely sensitive child. Hopefully, in time my princess will learn to trust doctors again. Wish me luck!

1 comment:

Moody said...

I don't blame her for being afraid! She's had some unfortunate experiences. My two older kids were traumatized by dental visits when they were very small, so when my youngest needed dental work I opted for the gen. anesthesia. I'm so glad I did, because she has no fear of dentists whereas my other two were very much like your daughter (or worse). I don't think the kids remember the actual event so much as just the fear, and that can be so difficult to get over.