Dear Doctor S—-
I want to thank you. Really. Even though you gave us bad news, I want to thank you for your approach, courtesy, and helpfulness.
Truthfully, we don’t know you well. Wendy goes to see you once a year, to get new glasses. We were just there a few months ago. But in the last month or so, she was having a hard time seeing again, and I thought maybe it was growth or puberty or whatever, and I took her back to you. I had Penny in tow as it was school vacation week.
You remembered all of us and asked us each questions about work, school, sports, and our town. You spoke about people we knew in common. You were ok with Penny playing on the floor of the room while you conducted your exam. You don’t know how much I appreciated that, most of the time doctors find the extra child to be tiresome at best and a nuisance at worst. You totally went with the flow of our chaotic life.
You examined Wendy and realized that it wasn’t really her vision that was off, that her prescription didn’t need to change that much, so you looked for more problems. It turned out that Wendy was seeing double. You examined her and you asked her good questions. She had a hard time explaining some things, and you encouraged her by telling her that you know these things are hard to explain, but she was doing a good job and she should keep going and he would ask questions for clarification. Doctors don’t do this often enough, not only did you engage Wendy, but you encouraged her, and when she didn’t have the right words, you asked thoughtful, non-threatening questions to help her. Then you let her and Penny go out to pick glasses.
And this is a small thing, but I need to mention it. Your staff was totally fine with both girls trying on as many glasses as they wanted to, and Penny didn’t even need them. They let them try on a hundred glasses, or what seemed like it. They were patient when the girls wanted to try on the crazy cat eye glasses or the pointy square glasses. Eventually they narrowed Wendy down to five pairs, then three, then two, but they let the girls explore and have fun in the process of finding just the right pair. No one judged them, no one told them no, no one worried they were going to break something (except perhaps me.)
While the girls tried on their fashion accessories, you told me about your concerns. Based upon Wendy’s medical history, her medications, and her symptoms, that I should speak to her specialists immediately, and that I should contact her pediatrician and make an appointment. You answered all my questions. You continued that I should ask about a neurology consult and that this likely will lead to more tests. All of these things you did firmly but not in a way to try to scare me. You just let me know that something was wrong, it was serious, and we needed to look into it. Then, and this is important, you helped me by telling me EXACTLY how to look into it.
I’ve been doing this a long time now doctor, almost nine years. I pretty much consider myself a professional hospital parent, and I have to tell you that you did everything right. Your exam was thorough, you were ok with the extra kid, you validated Wendy and her explanations, you explained your concerns to me, and you helped show me the way to the next step.
I don’t know what the outcome will be, this is a new needle in the haystack of Wendy’s medical conditions, but I want to tell you how much I appreciated our encounter yesterday.