Home > Top Ten > Top Ten: Reasons I Dread James’s Annual Physical

Top Ten: Reasons I Dread James’s Annual Physical

Before your automatic response to this is, “change doctors,” let me just start by saying that we love, love, love our pediatrician and a handful of nurses at this office or we’d never go back here. Ever, ever again. Secondly, many of the reasons on this painfully long list would exist no matter where we went.

It’s after days like this I realize that the study done comparing the stress levels of special needs mothers to combat soldiers is completely accurate (though I certainly hope the 9-12 years off my life isn’t). Here’s how the nearly 4 hours spent in James’s physical went down today:

1. We wait over an hour to be seen, while James asks every five minutes if he is going to get a shot. My reply, I don’t know, isn’t exactly the truth but I can’t bear to start the meltdown quite so early.

2. The nurse takes James back to get his height and weight and pulls out a blood pressure cuff. The panic button has been hit and James starts to cry, shouting “No! Take that away! Nonononono!” I casually whisper to the nurse, “If you want to get through the rest of this exam you should probably not pick this battle – it only gets worse from here.”

3. She puts away the cuff and pulls out the headset for the hearing test. I am unprepared for the vehemence of James’s reaction to this one. The “nononos” start up again as James frantically pushes the headset out of the nurse’s hands. She looks frustrated, but says, “I’m going to put, ‘unable to complete’ on the chart.” “Good idea,” I say encouragingly. “What’s next?”

4. We get through the eye exam relatively quickly and wait for 20 more minutes in a new waiting room. James watches Dr. Oz  and breakfast battles.

5. Once we are finally called back I allow myself to relax a little while I catch up with the doctor (did I mention we love his doctor?). Until he mentions that James hasn’t grown at all this year. Not even half an inch. With James’s severely advanced bone age, there has always been a slight concern that he might stop growing before he hits puberty and go from the tallest kid to the shortest man in no time. After many years of testing and worrying over nothing, I had kind of shelved this one. Darn it. The doctor expresses more concern than usual and suggests getting new tests done before deciding on a “course of action.” Good thing I have a few weeks in between the move and the baby to figure all of this out.

6. We make it through the rest of the physical easily, until the doctor can’t find James’s second testicle. Seriously? It takes a very uncomfortable 15 minutes to bring it back down from wherever it was hiding. I’m sure you can guess how James liked that part.

7. We’re done. Oh wait, we need blood drawn and a tetanus booster. James starts to lose it upon hearing that there will be shots, but it’s the additional 20 minute wait for the nurses that provides him with the time to properly build the anticipation.

8. James’s reaction to the blood draw, while always unpleasant, is borderline crazy today. I run through all of the usual tricks – video games, ordering Chinese for dinner, thinly veiled threats – to no avail. James responds by offering to take another eye test or just a “bandaid with no shot!” I finally grab James by the arm to lead him to the chair and am slapped, punched and kicked in retaliation. Hmm, this is new. I let go, allowing James to assume the fetal position in a corner, shaking like a leaf and screaming. Lots of new today. After a quick huddle, I give the go ahead and the nurse calls for reinforcements.

9. It eventually takes 4 adults to carry my 97-pound child over to a table, unfold him and pin him down for his blood work. The first needle goes in and James goes crazy. They can’t find a vein and pull the needle out. “Are we done?” James asks hopefully. “Almost” sends him back into a crazed frenzy to get away. Twenty minutes (and several more sticks) later he has given up and lays on the table, complacent, quietly crying and completely pathetic looking. While the hysteria doesn’t earn him many sympathy points, it’s much more heartbreaking to see him like this. They finally find a viable vein in the hand. Afterward, James politely declines stickers, coloring books and lollipops.

10. There’s just the shot left. The nurse assures me that the next nurse will be in shortly to get this done to prevent more time for anxiety. I explain to James that there is one more thing and he’s all done, and it will be very quick. He makes no move to get up from the exam table, simply laying there in a daze. 10 minutes pass and I leave him to investigate, where I find the “next nurse” casually talking to another woman in the hallway. “Excuse me,” I interrupt. “My son needs to have one more shot. We’ve been here for over 3 hours – he has special needs and is very upset, and I’m hoping to avoid any more waiting time because he’s working himself up into a panic again.” “I’m just one person and I’m very busy,” the nurse replies, and goes back to her conversation about HPV shots and hypothetical teenage girls. I storm off and wait 10 more minutes before going back into the hallway to stare her down. She glances up and sees me. I don’t move – I continue to stare at her like I would at one of my toddlers if they were behaving poorly. She says something to the woman about “not being able to chat because she has demanding patients” and comes to give James his booster. It takes 3 seconds and he’s done.

While walking out of the office James asks if he’s earned Chinese food. “Are you kid-” I start. The first nurse overhears him and says, “You sure did! You were very brave in there.”

What the hell – we could both use a little lo mein tonight.


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