One thing I learned this past week is to never underestimate the navigating skills of an Onc-Parent in the mighty “rapids” of the World of Medical Needs. I want all of you Onc-Parents (I use this term with utmost respect and love) to know that the skills you are learning now will help you and your family in the future…
My illustrative story:
This past Monday night, I was dancing at the Academy of Dance. Near the end of class, I landed from a leap on the side of my right foot… and heard a “Crunch.” I finished the dance as best as I could. The next day, I told my mom that I thought my foot was feeling a bit better, and I limped around school for two days before we decided it would be good to get it X-rayed—just in case.
Mom did her best to try to get me in to see my pediatrician, but they didn’t have any appointments available. She decided to take me to an urgent care facility so that we wouldn’t have to wait—you will love this story! As we entered and approached the receptionist, we noticed we were the only people in the place. Without looking up, the receptionist asked a few questions and shoved a clipboard in front of Mom.
When she left the window for a moment, Mom looked at me and asked, “Do you ever feel like a number?!”
The chill in the air intensified as the X-ray technician came into the waiting room and brought me back to the examination room while Mom was finishing up paperwork. He was obviously quite irritated by my presence. After he let me know that I ruined his evening (because we arrived fifteen minutes before closing,) he proceeded to diagnose me before the X-ray.
“If you’ve been walking around on your foot all week, there’s nothing wrong with it. You don’t need an X-ray.”
Then… more verbal abuse for “ruining his evening.”
Mom and I looked at each other in disbelief. We both agreed that this facility needs a disclaimer on their door:
“If you arrive after 5:45, we will accept you as a patient, but please be advised this gives us full rights to be rude.”
It would have been easier to take if they would post this disclaimer… at least you would be aware of what to expect! Mom believes this: If they are open for business, they need to treat people with kindness and respect– or they need to be closed.
The doctor took one look at my foot and sent me back to Mr. Rude to have it X-rayed. Oh joyJ More lessons in patience for Melinda… suddenly Mr. Rude changed his tune. While he was preparing my cast, he continued his verbal onslaught—only now he began telling me that I should have come in much sooner, because now I “ruined my foot by walking on it.” Mom and I exchanged wide-eyed glances while he released his frustration with his words.
“You’re not going to be able to dance for a really, really long time.”
Mom could not remain silent any longer, blurting, “It’s a good thing you were across the room from Melinda when you said that—she just might slug you one.” Then she smiled at him.
His reply was abrupt, “I hit back.”
Here is where I get to the part about “Navigating the Rapids for Medical Needs.” The urgent care doctor and Mr. Rude both told my mom that I would not be able to get in to see an orthopedic surgeon until late next week. By this time, my fractured foot might begin healing the wrong way… and I need to see if surgery is necessary. Mom knows how important dance is to me—which means my feet are very important.
Do you think Mom would accept this information without doing everything she could to get me help as soon as possible?
No, no, no… not an “Onc-Parent!”
She spent yesterday morning calling everyone she could think of, and after many calls, and help from caring angels, she got what she wanted. One of these angels is Vanessa from Digital Imaging who arranged for a special courier to return my X-rays to the urgent care. Another angel is Karen from Dr. Jonathon Fow’s office. Even though Dr. Fow is booked solid through next week, she called him and arranged for us to bring my X-rays to him at his Morro Bay office so he could take a look.
Wow! Dr. Fow took time in between his surgeries to look at my X-rays and personally call a physician to help me. He handed the phone to my mom and they set up an appointment for me on Monday morning. His fee… nothing.
My love goes out, once again, to all of the Onc-Parents who navigate the Rapids. Keep pushing for what you need for your child and don’t take “No” for an answer.
May God bless Vanessa, Karen, Dr. Fow, and all of the Angels who choose daily to “Do Life” from your hearts.
Facebook/ Grace: A Child’s Intimate Journey Through Cancer and Recovery
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