There have been times in the past two years when I have felt like life is what happens in between Gavin’s medical appointments.
Don’t get me wrong, things have slowed down from the hectic six months post-treatment when the Bean and I were flying around the city from our 10:00 at Bloorview to our 1:00 at Sick Kids. It would’ve been much easier with jet-packs, but until that fantasy comes to be a reality, we’ve been stuck with a Pontiac Vibe and stuck in traffic for more hours than I care to share. Hours filled with chit-chat, singing, DVDs and the occasional shouting match.
Of course, by “slowed down” I mean that we now only go to appointments once or twice a week. How can this be, you ask? We need to go to MRI every three months and then neuro-onc clinic. Neurosurge clinic every six months. Eye clinic, audiology, dermatology and nephrology. Orthotist, physio, osteopath, naturopath and regular old pediatrician. (The last of which Bean now realizes pretty much always involves jabs as he gets re-vaccinated, so does not enjoy those visits much.) He also checks in at Bloorview with the brain injury team and feeding clinic. In the past couple of months we’ve been able to remove three of those things from the roster, but have now added dentist to the list.
Today was eye clinic. Eye clinic is the epitome of boredom. They see 80 patients a day. We have been there for 3 or 4 hours in the past. So although the appointment was for 11:15, I opted to wait til Gav finished school, toss him in the car and race to hospital. Once we’d picked up lunch we were an hour late. And of course, today is the day the doctor was not still around, and they had to call her back to see us. Oops. They didn’t chide me too harshly when I told them that today was Terry Fox Day at school and that I’d wanted Gav to take part. (Rest in peace, lovely Terry.)
Today I broke my own cardinal rule of clinic visits. This is: Never accept what the tech/fellow has to say as final, WAIT to speak to the staff doctor before freaking out. First Gav had to do some vision tests. It seemed (to me) that he wasn’t doing very well. When asked to identify certain letters, he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t see them and was not identifying them properly. Huh? His vision has always seemed pretty good – did it take a huge nose dive recently and I didn’t know? Panic set in. The assistant informed me that he may require some sort of aid but the doctor would let me know. I fired off an anxious text to Bean’s Dad.
A few minutes later we were ushered in to meet the fellow. He has seen Bean before and is actually amazing with children. They were chatting away within a minute. I feel I should mention this because it’s surprising how many pediatric doctors are actually not that good with kids. He examined Gav’s eyes and then said, “Well, everything looks great!” Wait. What happened a few minutes ago…? The staff, Dr. Wong, came in and she also said, “Everything looks great, see you in six months!” When I asked them about the tests, they told me that Gavin had actually performed slightly better than on the previous one and his vision is considered perfectly normal, with normal responses for his age. Phew, relief. Note to self, do not forget the cardinal rule of clinic visits!
Perhaps I should also say that I know that wearing glasses is an okay thing. I know many glasses-wearers. Don’t we all? It’s just that this would be something else on top of all the other stuff. Later this afternoon we were at the park and there was a little girl there who’d lost her glasses. The mum was in a tizzy because the glasses cost $800. Yikes. They found them, hurrah, but I thought to myself, Yeah, that’s just another thing I don’t feel like worrying about.
I’m tired now, because all these medical visits knock the stuffing out of me. I believe that’s the technical term for it. The reason that they do so is that I take on this persona of Funnest Hospital Mum Ever in clinic. I am a book-reading, game-playing, song-singing machine. We dance, we craft, we play games on the iPad, we laugh, chat, watch shows and have treats. I do all of this because I don’t want Gavin to ever think that his childhood is somehow lacking because we have to spend so much time appointed. And because of this he still thinks of the hospital as a fun place to go. But man, it’s exhausting.
I’m going to part with a couple of gems from the world of Gavin:
Trying to open a sticky tube of toothpaste: Arrgh. I can’t get this BLOODY thing open.
We should ask Daddy for the money. He has PLENTY of money, you know. (News to me, Beanie.)
Today in eye clinic, pretending to be an ophthalmologist:
G: I just need to shine this really bright light in your eyes.
Me: Okay, that is pretty bright.
G: Yeah, it is. Hmmm. This is a problem. I see germs in your eyes.
Me: Germs? Oh no, what do you have to use to fix it? Drops?
G: No. I have to use this tool. It’s called… a… scraper-pick!
Me: (Dying laughing) A, scraper-pick?! Do you have to scrape the germs out of my eyes?
G: Yup, hold still. This is going to hurt a lot.
I can imagine that a scraper-pick would actually hurt quite a bit, Beanie. Now go work on that bedside manner!