Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Fun with doctors! A visit to the pediatric neurologist
I wasn't well prepared for our annual visit to Max's pediatric neurologist today. Usually, I have a long list of questions, but I hadn't gotten around to it. So I winged it. Given that this is Max's head we're talking about, and given that this doctor costs a small fortune, that might seem totally irresponsible. But for once, I didn't have a whole lot of concerns to air.
For the first part of the appointment, Max stared out the window at the cars going by (happily, the office is located adjacent to a busy roadway) as Dave and I reeled off all the great stuff Max started doing in the last year:
• Max is walking up stairs by himself.
• He's trying so much harder to stay words, and has been speaking sentences. We may not always understand them but, he's trying.
• He's using his pointer finger. And he's learned how to navigate the iPad.
• He's been showing us what an amazing memory he has—his so-called "special strength." The doctor pointed out this means he's also adept at sequencing (as in, Max knows that to get to the car wash first you have to go here, then there, then turn here), which will come in handy for math and if our car navigation system ever conks out.
• He's recognizing words when he reads signs, books, t-shirts.
• He's more into coloring, which he used to hate (and which is really great for developing fine-motor skills).
• He's using both hands more spontaneously (his right hand is the weaker one because the bilateral stroke was worse on the left side).
• He's got a best friend (a kid at school) who he tells us about all the time.
• He's got great hair. OK, this I didn't say. But it's true.
I had concerns about Max's still-developing trunk control; if he gets stuck in a funny position in bed, he's not yet able to adjust himself. The doctor thought that we should consider aquatic therapy again, which Max hasn't had since he was a baby. [What I thought: "OMG! How are we going to fit another therapy into his jam-packed schedule?!" What I said to the doc: "Sounds good!"] We also spoke about Max's continued challenges with loud noises and sensory OD. The doctor suggested we get him a good set of earbuds. Lightbulb! I don't know why it sometimes fails to occur to us to try obvious solutions. [Banging head against the wall.]
I asked why Max wasn't verbalizing questions. "It's part of his language development—it's not yet in his repertoire," the doctor said. "You have to teach him how to ask questions." He encouraged us to put even more questions on Max's iPad that would encourage interaction with us and other kids, simple questions like: What's your favorite flavor of ice-cream? Where do you live? Would you like my dad to take your car to the car wash, perhaps?
I held back on asking what was up with the car wash obsession, because what the heck was the doctor going to say? It's caused by a lesion in his brain?! Whatever, it's one of his quirks, like Sabrina's insistence on pulling up whatever pants she's wearing to her knees. Although that doesn't cost us $10 bucks a pop, or potentially cause paint to peel off the car. But, still. Max deserves to have his quirks, like every other kid does.
I was very, very, very psyched that the doctor is no longer measuring his head. That used to torture me when Max was little; I knew the microcephaly (small head size) was a result of the brain damage from the stroke. I'd get teary when the doctor would take out his tape measure, because I knew we'd find out that Max's head size was way below normal. Although now it's proportional, and the good hair has definitely come in handy.
Max loved showing the doctor photos on his iPad. He didn't want to get on the scale (maybe he inherited that from me) but he finally did, and he'd put on some decent pound-age (that he most definitely got from me). It's quite possible that, soon enough, he'll have the heft to push Sabrina around and tell her to quit teasing, although I don't think I'll be putting that goal on his IEP.
At the end of the visit, I asked a question I already knew the answer to. I couldn't help it; I needed to hear the doctor say it. "Is it possible Max could have another stroke?" I asked. The doctor looked at me. "It would be verrrrrrry rare. Reportably so. Most kids have their strokes, and they're done."
Dave and I both walked out of the office feeling very content. And Max?
He wanted to go to a car wash, of course.