Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Good times at the pediatrician's office

Max was excited for his annual checkup at the other day because he wanted to tell our longtime pediatrician, Dr. G., about his plans to move to Los Angeles. Max sure has come a loooong way from those days he'd melt down in the waiting room.

After taking Max's vitals (he is exceptionally vital!), the nurse handed me a form about well-being that typically teens fill out on their own. After she left the room, Max and I decided to do it together. You had to reply not at all/several days/more than half the days/nearly every day to a series of problems.

Problem: Little interest or little pleasure in doing things.
Reality: It's impossible to keep Max at home on weekends—he wants to be out there constantly, "galavanting" as Dave likes to say. 
Me: "Max, do you enjoy doing different things?
Max, enthusiastically: "YEAH!"

Problem: Feeling down / depressed / hopeless
Reality: Max is one of the happier people on this planet.
Me: "Max, do you ever feel sad?"
Max: "Yes!"
Me: "When?"
Max: "Because I can't move to Los Angeles!"
He cracks up.

Problem: Troubling falling sleep / staying asleep / sleeping
Reality: Max falls asleep basically as soon as his head hits the pillow and doesn't wake up till about nine hours later.
Me: "Max, do you sleep OK?"

Problem: Poor appetite / overeating
Reality: Max is a skinny boy who counts eating among his favorite activities. 
Me: "Max, do you love to eat?"
Max: "STEAK!"

Problem: Feeling bad about yourself / feeling that you are a failure
Reality: I honestly wasn't totally sure about this one. I mean, Max has told me that he doesn't find having CP challenging. And he's generally pretty confident and not easily put off when he can't do stuff. Still, Max has an inner life I am not fully privy to.
Me: "Max, are you happy with who you are?"
Max: "Huh?"
Me: "Are you happy with being Max?"
Max: "Fireman Max! Yes!"

Problem: Do you have trouble concentrating on things such as reading the newspaper or watching television
Reality: HA HA HA HA HA. Max could sit on our couch and watch YouTube videos of fire trucks all day long.
Me: "Max, do you watch a lot of fire truck videos?"
Max: "YES!"

Problem: Moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed
Reality: Um, cerebral palsy?

Problem: Thinking that you would be better off dead / thinking that you want to hurt yourself in some way.
Reality: Um, Max? But I tried:
Me: "Max, are you happy to be alive?"
Max: "I want to live in Los Angeles!"

We moved on to the flip side of the form, which turned out to be even more LOL-y.

"During the past 12 months, did you drink any alcohol?"
Reality: Dave gave Max a sip of beer this summer and Max was all, "Ewwwww!" 
Me: "Max, do you drink wine or beer?"
Max: [Laughs uproariously.]

"Have you smoked any marijuana or hashish?"
Reality: Max does not know what this stuff is.
Me: "Max do you do drugs?"
Max: Cocks his head to one side and gives me a look.

Now we are both cracking up. This screening test is not exactly geared toward a teen like Max, who lives a rather innocent existence. A more appropriate question for him would be: Do you ever drink milk to excess? Yes, he does.

After we finished the form and were waiting around for the doctor, I found the video of Last Christmas on YouTube. Max is obsessed with that song, which he is performing at his school's holiday show this Friday. So I put it on and we both sang along at the top of our lungs and that's exactly what we were doing when the doctor walked in.

The exam went well, making it pretty much the best doctor's appointment I'd ever been to. Probably Max, too.

1 comment:

  1. I really appreciated two phrases you used in this post ... "inner life" and "innocent existence." "Inner life" I think is a great term for the bundle of feelings and perspectives that people tend to wonder about in people with disabilities, especially those with cognitive or intellectual impairments, or even just communication impairments that make it hard to express their inner life in ways that are clear to most people.

    "Innocent existence" I think is a common experience for kids and youth with disabilities, but crucially, not for all. One of the ways that ableism manifests itself is when people assume that certain disabilities automatically mean a person has an "innocent existence." In reality, I think other social and economic factors play a much bigger part in this. And, as a disabled adult who grew up with a fairly "innocent existence" for most of my youth, I can say that it definitely had pluses and minuses.


Thanks for sharing!

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