Last week, Ronan had an eye appointment at rather large medical facility. We were going to a place where multiple specialties work under one roof. That can be a blessing – providers have access to the main medical file and can look over other doctors’ notes to review current treatment plans and progress. If any sort of collaboration needs to be done, communication to another specialist can happen quickly. But, being in a large facility can have its drawbacks – instead of just a few patients, there are lots more patients, nurses, doctors, and medical stuff coming and going. With that, there’s more sensory stimulation, waiting room time, and sometimes, an increase in frustration. Just walking into a facility like the one we were going to could be a challenge for Ronan. Knowing the types of tests he’d be asked to do that day would be also, so I did as much as I could ahead of time hoping things would run smoothly.
Being unfamiliar with the location we were going, the first step, literally the one Ronan would take out of the car, could be hardest. Happily, Ronan got out and then waltzed right into the building! Curious about where we were and about everything he was seeing, Ronan took his time walking down the very long corridors to the clinic. He pointed to words he recognized while we were in the elevator and also signed the ones he knew the sign to. As we walked, he smiled and began to scroll through some of his favorite signs. He does that to tell us he’s happy. I smiled back at Ronan.
Rounding the corner, my expression changed. As I expected it would be, the waiting room was packed. Oh, boy. This could be a long day, I thought. I was glad that I’d brought all sorts of Ronan-happy things (snacks, his favorite books, and an iPhone to watch favorite videos). They would help keep Ronan distracted while we waited for his name to be called.
While sitting and waiting after we’d been checked in, I began to feel apprehensive about the new provider assigned to Ronan’s case. I’d learned that the doctor we were seeing was not the specialist I’d agreed to take Ronan to. This doctor only knew Ronan on paper. In order to get a better picture of what’s going on and why we were there, I’d need to offer a full history. I began to mentally go over everything I wanted to say and ask him the new doc.
With as many medical issues that Ronan has, I wanted to give as much relevant information as possible and prayed that what I said, and how I said it, would be respected. My thoughts were interrupted after just a few minutes.
“Jameson. Ronan?” a very young doctor called out.
Making eye contact with him, I raised my hand and turned to Ronan. “Hey, buddy. That’s us.”
“Follow me, please,” the doctor said.
Since the doctor we’d been assigned was young, likely inexperienced with a child like mine, and would only be able to do so much before having to refer us to the head doctor, I walked into exam room 10 steps ahead of Ronan and quietly stated, “He’s non-verbal and has sensory issues. Speak to him. Tell him exactly what you’re going to do and why, and that should help.”
Without replying to me, he turned to Ronan and said, “Hey, big guy! Can you sit right here?” Ronan responded immediately and positively and got settled in the chair.
Taking out some files I’d brought, I said, “Ronan signs. It’s not straight up America Sign Language. It’s more RSL…Ronan Sign Language, but if you need me to interpret anything, let me know.” The doctor nodded his head, said he understood, and said, “You do what works.”
Other people might have dismissed my attempt to help, but I felt myself begin to relax. Still skeptical since he’d yet to begin the physical part of the exam, I watched the doctor for his next move.