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Changing Doctors

When I was pregnant with Jane we interviewed pediatricians. While sitting in one of the offices I felt a little familiar with the pediatrician. I couldn’t quite place the face, but then he and I both realized that I had been his patient many years ago.

From my daughter’s birth in 1998, through 2005 My Pediatrician was my children’s pediatrician. The care they received was top notch. The office, was not. The office started with screeching and wait times were at a minimum an hour, sometimes more. One day, as I sat in the waiting room it dawned on me that I could change doctors. Immediately.

It wasn’t an unemotional decision. The man who had kept me in good health, the man who I’d trusted and who had cared for my children would no longer care for them. I didn’t feel good about going elsewhere. And then we got there. We got to the new pediatrician and appointments were honored, they didn’t triple book. The office was kind and not screechy. Medically it’s the same for my kids. Both places are excellent, but only in one were they kind.

When my son was five months old I finally admitted to myself noticed that his eyes were crossed. Volumes could be written, but the punch line is that he immediately started wearing glasses, each eye was patched for several hours a day, and the diagnosis was strabismus and amblyopia. After a few months it became apparent that my son required surgery. As the doctor was telling us about the surgery, I kept hearing that he had trained under Dr. Cutter (not his real name, don’t bother googling), and my husband and I decided to go directly to the source.

At ten months old and then again at 18 months old my son had surgeries on both eyes. Dr. Cutter was masterful and my son was given the gift of vision. I am forever grateful to him for that. When I think of people who have changed our families lives, I think of Dr. Cutter. My heart swells and my eyes water. That is why leaving the office is so difficult.

Dr. Cutter is working reduced hours now. Yesterday my son had an appointment with Dr. Cutter’s associate. We arrived at 3.45 for our 3.45 apointment. At 4.30 when we were still waiting I went to the desk to reschedule, and stood next to a woman who was leaving. She had been there with her two children since before 2.00 and still hadn’t been seen. I asked the office to reschedule us, we’d come back on a less busy day. They offered up February 6th.

My son turns 9 in July. You get the first 9 years to correct these problems, we can’t wait, he needs the doctor. He has one, maybe two exams left before the clock ticks and time is up. I have to take care of my son, and feeling cannot be part of the decision.

Next week we will return to the doctor we saw in Alexander’s infancy. He does less in the way of surgery, but the office is convenient and the wait times are reasonable, if at all.

I left Dr. Cutter’s office with a knot in my stomach. My son had been there weekly for the first few years of his life, and then regularly thereafter. Alexander learned to walk in those hallways and our exams went from infancy to childhood, from finding the toy to identifying the letters. We had a red glazed donut in the Doctor’s lounge after every exam where his pupils were dilated. Every time. We almost looked forward to it, Alexander and I.

My son grew up in that office, and now it’s time to leave. I find it extraordinarily painful.

4 thoughts on “Changing Doctors”

  1. This post REALLY struck a chord! I am sorry this is happening. It is a HUGE deal. Recently our doctor of 18 years decided to move back East. She left us saying we were “in good hands.” Turns out the doctor she recommended was not taking patients – and the place we went to for 18 years – could care less. OK – challenges bring opportunities, but my husband was pretty darn upset.

  2. At first I thought–oh, UCLA Eye Clinic. My niece was born with only one eye (anenopthalmia) and we had to take her regularly to UCLA where they were working to prep the socket for a prosthesis. The wait was excruciating–particularly with an active toddler. But then I thought back to all the eye exams I sat through when I was a kid (my sister had crossed eyes too). They always seemed to keep us waiting for about three hours. I don’t know what it is about eye doctors–never did learn why they’re always running so late.

  3. My daughter goes monthly to the doctor for Amblyopia. She isn’t a surgical case (she doesn’t have strabismus). We’ve seen specialist after specialist and I’ve poured hours into researching it. More and more researchers are saying that there isn’t a cut-off on when it can be fixed and it can be fixed later in childhood, teen and even adults – of course it is slower and more work. Vision Therapy can also help teach the eyes to develop binocular vision.

    I have had to “break up” with doctors offices before because of the long wait times, etc. So frustrating. I try to schedule the appointments for early morning so they have less time to get backed up for that reason. Especially given that my son has autism so the waiting is even worse for him and everyone else around us on those afternoon appointments.

    Good luck!

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